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TENS & EMS & Microcurrent how about it?

Do not compare apples and oranges thus also do not compare PEMF with TENS, EMS, Microcurrent or SCENAR devices. All these devices fall under the name of neuromodulation and are not PEMF devices.

Compare pemf with tens
Tens electrodes on skin

Neuromodulation is a way to relief pain locally by applying electrical stimulation to the specific area where pain is felt. A small portable, battery powered, device generates electrical impulses and these impulses are then applied through electrical conducting adhesive gel pads [electrodes] placed directly on the skin. 

Electrodes applied to bare skin

Electrical neuromodulation triggers a biological response by stimulating nerve cell activity causing release of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins cause pain relief by decreasing the perception of pain in the area where the electrodes are attached.

The above treatment method is applied with a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator or in short, a TENS machine.  

Although this method is non-invasive it does not treat the underlying cause of the pain and usually only helps for temporary local pain relief. It may also cause skin irritation and even burns because of the electrical current running through the bare skin.

TENS machine


TENS is sometimes confused with Electrical Muscle Stimulation or in short EMS. This is also called Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation [NMES] and is used for muscle rehabilitation e.g. after stroke and for prevention of muscle atrophy as result of physical inactivity.

TENS and EMS devices look very similar and both use electric lead wires with electrodes. TENS is used for decreasing local pain, where EMS is for muscle stimulation. EMS causes muscle contractions and can be used e.g. for strength training by athletes or for muscle toning.

Contrary to TENS where the user only feels some slight tingling under the electrodes, electrical impulses generated by EMS devices are much stronger and do cause muscle contractions, which can be clearly felt.

EMS device

There are many manufacturers and hundreds of cheap TENS machines available around the world.

TENS device

Slendertone EMS device

Microcurrent devices send very weak electrical signals into the body. Such devices apply extremely small microamp electrical currents [less than 1 milliampere] to tissues using electrodes placed on the skin. These microcurrents are supposed to interface with the body's internal peripheral nervous system for the purpose of a natural therapeutic intervention.

Some manufacturers supply a hand-held applicator connected to a microcurrent device calling this PEMF while the electromagnetic field strength of such a device is so minimal that it can only be measured with very sensitive electronic equipment. Microcurrent “PEMF” applicators do not come even close to real high intensity PEMF devices and as such calling this PEMF therapy is clearly misleading.

The working mechanism of microcurrent efficacy is not established. Some studies assume that there might be some correlation between traditional Chinese acupuncture and microcurrent.

Scenar are fancy Russian devices similar to regular TENS and EMS devices. SCENAR is an abbreviation for Self Controlled Energy Neuro Adaptive Regulator which is just an “interesting” name for a standard neurostimulator.

Microcurrent device

Tennant microcurrent device

Scenar device

Scenar device

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