HomeElectrotherapyTENS versus EMS: Do both use the same electrodes?
TENS versus EMS: Do both use the same electrodes?
June 03, 2015  |  Posted by Dr. Josephine Bitler

TENS versus EMS: Do both use the same electrodes?

Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) with the use of electrode pads has been pretty popular these days. Nearly one-thirds of Americans suffer from chronic pain and I’m one of them. This is why we greatly benefit from electrotherapy using electrodes for TENS unit. I have undergone TENS therapy, countless times that I have somewhat already mastered how this works. However, I’m quite baffled as to how TENS is different from EMS and whether or not they use the same electrodes. The curious cat in me was again stirred and so I decided to do a little research on EMS.

EMS stands for Electrical Muscle Stimulation and TENS means Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Judging from the names, you can tell outright that they have different applications. EMS is for muscle stimulation whilst TENS is for nerves. Although the two units may vary in function, they use pretty much the same electrodes. I have tried using DONECO® electrodes for TENS unit and I never had any issue on their adhesiveness, so they might as well be used for your EMS unit.

The placement of electrodes during TENS therapy is usually dependent on the location of pain while in EMS, the electrodes are placed near your motor points. Your motor point is the area that has the greatest response during muscle stimulation. There are usually recommended areas during EMS. Nevertheless, it would be best to consult your doctor first because, just like TENS therapy, proper placement of electrodes as well as the choice of electrode pads are also very crucial in EMS as these are the two major factors that would determine the effectiveness of the therapy.