TENS, or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, therapy is the process of administering small doses of low voltage electrical current to a pain source in order to relieve it.
Previously used only by doctors and physical therapists, TENS units are now available for home use, and there is a variety to choose from.
They're very small—about the size of a mobile phone—and they generally run on batteries. You connect the electrodes (small pads connected to the unit by a wire) to your skin, turn it on, and let the healing begin.
Why and how does this work? Well, as is typical in many medical mysteries, there is no definitive answer. There are, however, two theories.
One is that the electrical impulses travel along the nerves, and scramble the signals from the brain that tell your body you're in pain.
The other is that the electrical impulses stimulate and release endorphins, which are the naturally-occurring chemicals in our brains that our bodies release when we hurt ourselves, to relieve the pain.
Icy Hot Smart Relief and Aleve both make a TENS therapy device that is affordable and effective. We tested, researched, and reviews both fully, and when compared head-to-head, here's why Aleve is the clear winner.
Icy Hot Smart Relief vs Aleve Direct Therapy
Dual Theory Approach
Designed to relieve lower back pain, the Aleve Direct Therapy TENS device utilizes three-stage waveform technology that incorporates both the signal-scrambling and endorphin-releasing methodologies into one unit. This combination utilizes both approaches to relieving pain.
Drug-free and completely safe, the low voltage pulses work to target the pain where it occurs and stop it fast, so you can get back to doing the activities you most enjoy.
Slim, Flexible, and Easy to Use
Flexible and thin, the unit is designed to move with you, no matter what your level of activity. It's only a little under an inch thick, seven inches long, and three and a half inches wide.
It weighs just under five ounces, making it barely perceptible. The electrodes snugly and securely adhere to the contours of your lower back, so it's easy to apply and forget.
You can wear it discreetly under any garment. It's durable and will stand up to even the heaviest wear and tear.
There are no wires or straps to contend with, so it's virtually unnoticeable. And, as you can see in this video, it's very easy to set up and use.
Practical and Convenient
The gel pads are reusable up to five times (you can get a replacement pad). They stick to your skin and stay in place no matter what your level of activity. You control the level of intensity—there are 15 to choose from—by way of the easy-to-use remote control, making it very easy to take with you to the office or when you travel.
It's not to be used in the car, when sleeping, or in water, however. Both the unit and remote control use AAA batteries. If administering 30-minute sessions at a time, the batteries in the device will last 120 uses.
The remote control battery will last up to six months, depending on how much you use it. It's silent when running, so you can rest easy when in a crowd or place of business. No one will know you're using it, so it's completely discreet.
Regulated by the FDA
The unit has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration. It is regulated as a Class Two medical device, so you can use it with peace of mind.
Available on Amazon, this device is an outstanding affordable, drug-free pain reliever that you can wear almost anywhere. It also utilizes AAA batteries, which are easy to find, affordable, and available in rechargeable options.
Icy Hot Smart Relief Review
The Icy Hot Smart Relief delivers TENS therapy to relieve moderate to chronic back pain as well, but the feature set and cost simply don't measure up.
It, is like a unit. It operates on the principle of blocking the signals to the brain that tell us we are experiencing pain and stimulating the release of endorphins, the pain-relieving chemicals that naturally occur in our bodies.
The design isn't as elegant, attractive, or easy to use as the Aleve model. To use it, you snap the unit onto the electrode pad, peel the pad off the adhesive strip, and then you attach the pad to the point of pain on your back. You then press the on/off button and select your intensity level.
When you are finished, you remove the unit and stick the pad back to the adhesive. Each pad lasts approximately 12 to 30 uses.
You get more intensity levels with the Icy Hot version—you can adjust it all the way up to 63. However, doing so uses a lot of battery power, requiring you to change the battery frequently.
It has no remote control, so you must use the buttons on the unit itself in order to change the setting. It's not quite as discreet as the Aleve model.
The device remains exposed on the adhesive pad for adjustments, which makes it a bit less durable and not as easy to camouflage under clothing. It's bulky and unsightly.
The Icy Hot uses CR2 batteries, and if you use it at higher levels of intensity, you will go through a lot of batteries. Because they are more expensive than regular AAA batteries, this cost will add up quickly, making this unit much more expensive in the long run.
It also prohibits you from using rechargeable batteries, which are more convenient and cost-effective.
If you suffer from chronic or moderate musculoskeletal pain in your back, knees, neck, or hips, you've probably tried every remedy there is to get some relief.
Muscle and joint pain can be caused by many different factors, and each has the same, if not more treatments. This makes zeroing in on a cure very elusive.
What research has shown, however, is that relief can be had with the use of TENS therapy.
While there are many models on the market to choose from after we put the Aleve Direct Therapy TENS device at the top of the list.
Utilizing the same technology as doctors and physical therapists use; incorporating waveform technology; delivering high-intensity pain relief; slim, flexible, and easy to use; and backed by a one-year warranty, it's our number one choice for relieving back pain.
Does Icy Hot Actually Help?
Claiming to address tough and chronic pain at its source, the Icy Hot SmartRelief TENS Therapy is an at-home pain management system that purports to utilize advanced technology employed by medical professionals. Operating on the principle of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy, this control unit targets persistent sore and aching muscles, promising professional-strength pain relief with a simple push of a button.
The Icy Hot SmartRelief works by blocking pain signals, a mechanism grounded in the scientific understanding of TENS technology. TENS therapy involves the use of electrical impulses to disrupt and override pain signals traveling to the brain, thereby delivering relief. Widely recognized in the medical field, this technology is acknowledged for its efficacy in managing various types of pain.
Offering convenience, the Icy Hot SmartRelief Control Unit is wireless and requires no assembly. To use, one must snap the control unit onto the electrode pad, activate the power, and then choose from the 63 available intensity levels for drug-free pain relief. Emphasizing reusability, the product positions itself as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly pain relief solution.
It's crucial to acknowledge that the effectiveness of TENS therapy, including the Icy Hot SmartRelief system, may vary among individuals and pain types. While the product aligns with established principles of TENS technology, individual responses may differ. Thus, user experiences and specific scientific studies on this product may offer additional insights into its efficacy.
In summary, the Icy Hot SmartRelief TENS Therapy system presents itself as a technologically advanced and user-friendly approach to pain management, in line with the established principles of TENS therapy. For a more comprehensive understanding of its effectiveness in addressing diverse pain conditions, user reviews and further scientific research may be valuable.