The Omron HeatTens is the latest drug-free pain-relieving product, that does what its name suggests, offering heat therapy combined with TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) technology.

As someone that runs quite a lot of half and full marathons, cycles a lot, and weight lifts I am inevitably in some form of pain quite frequently. Most it is just delayed onset muscle soreness, but I have also been plagued with minor running injuries. Similarly, my partner loves to run, but she also has regular calf issues and sciatic pain. So, a drug-free solution to pain relief sounds good to me.

Heat therapy has long been used as a form of pain relief and is regularly used in physiotherapy and for sports massages as it will dilate the blood vessels, promote blood flow, and help sore and tightened muscles relax.

OMRON HeatTens Tens Machine With Soothing Heat For Joint And Muscle Pain Relief
  • OMRON HeatTens is a certified pain reliever (also called TENS machine) with Dual Therapy which combines soothing heat and clinically proven TENS technology for joint and muscle pain relief.
  • Simplify your pain-relieving treatment with 6 pre-set programmes for different body zones. You can also customise the treatment with 3 heat and TENS combinations, 3 body massaging modes.
  • Effectively relieve joint pain and muscle pain using TENS technology which helps to block pain message, to trigger the release of endorphins and to improve blood circulation.
  • Rechargeable pain reliever; no need to buy replacement batteries.
  • Free 2 sets of OMRON Gels (HV-PAD-3E) which last up to 30 uses per set and are replaceable.

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TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)

TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) Therapy is a little more controversial. Omron frequently states that TENS is a clinically proven technology, making it sound highly effective, and this is technically true, trials have shown benefits. However, the overall effectiveness of this technology is still up for debate, and it appears to be dependant on what you are trying to treat.

Quoting NHS.uk:

There isn't enough good-quality scientific evidence to say for sure whether TENS is a reliable method of pain relief. More research is needed and clinical trials for TENS are ongoing.

Healthcare professionals have reported that it seems to help some people, although how well it works depends on the individual and the condition being treated.

However, the NHS doesn’t rule out TENS and states that it can be used for short term relief of pain and that a GP can refer you to a physiotherapist or pain clinic.

They also go on to state that TENS can be used for:

  • arthritis
  • period pain
  • pelvic pain caused by endometriosis
  • knee pain
  • neck pain
  • back pain
  • sports injuries

It is also worth noting that a study performed on healthy human subjects demonstrates that repeated application of TENS can create analgesic tolerance within five days, reducing its efficacy.

Studies also show that tolerance to repeated application of TENS can be prevented by multiple strategies, both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic.

However, any form of pain relief that is nonpharmacologic is good, this is especially the case for anyone suffering from chronic pain conditions such as arthritis, and something I would regard as essential if you are on any form of opioid-based medication for pain.

Omron HeatTens Pain Reliever

I will precede the following by stating that there are quite a few safety precautions with this device. You are passing electricity through your body after all. While it is perfectly safe to use most of the time there are various precautions to take about placement on your chest, if you are pregnant or have heart issues. So consult with OMRON and your Doctor first.

So with all that out of the way, Heat and TENs is a worthwhile consideration for anyone with regular injuries or some form of chronic pain.

The Omron HeatTens is not particularly expensive either, at just £99.99, if it helps you cut back on pain medication it may pay itself off over time. There is one big caveat here, the machine requires sticky gel pads, which have a limited number of uses. You get two in the pack, and 4 pairs would cost a further £19.99 from Omron. Competing brands offer sticky pads for as little as £14 for 40. I imagine you could use some third party alternative to lower the price, but I can’t guarantee if this will work or if the effectiveness will be reduced. The number of uses will vary, but I think you should get about 10 applications.

Using the machine is quite simple, the instructions cover everything clearly, and you can even work it out from the basic interface.

You have four therapy options with two heat tens patters with each program lasting 30 minutes. When you set it up you have two heat intensities, then the TENS level goes from 1-20.

You then have dedicated TENs therapies. Each TENS treatment cycles between frequencies and power with the higher frequencies offering very fast small pulses, then the lower frequencies offers quite intense slow pulses.

It is probably best to start low and work your way up, I found I could tolerate the higher frequency phases at a high level, but when the lower frequencies started it would feel a little uncomfortable.

I typically used it between 15-18 so reasonably high but not the max level. At these levels when using it on my legs there was a significant amount of movement from the pulses, especially the more powerful low-frequency ones, most of my leg would jolt. It is a strange and not entirely unpleasant sensation.

Results

I used the machine extensively following my most recent marathons and the few days afterwards. In my case, the heat application did help a little, I feel like a warm bath would be a more efficient way to apply heat, the muscle soreness covered such a large area two relatively small pads were not the most efficient way to apply heat. However, if you have a regular localised pain, I would imagine that this method would be more convenient, rather than taking multiple baths per day.

Subjectively, I did feel like the TENS therapy worked, frequently after marathons, I struggle to get to sleep because I am too achy, but my legs gave me no bother this time around. It is hard to say how effective it is, sometimes I struggle to notice a difference when taking pain killers and NSAIDs, but I much prefer the idea of a none drug treatment for pains and injuries whenever possible.

Overall

Overall I feel like the Omron HeatTens has helped my post-marathon pains, and I think it would be a superb tool for managing long term pain conditions.

I would say £100 is a reasonable price for something that can help reduce the need for medication however the attractiveness of this price is tainted by expensive gel pad replacements which work out at £5 per pair. OMRON doesn’t state how long the pads will last, but you can extend their life by rinsing them under a cold-water faucet (no soap is required), shaking off the excess moisture, and attaching them to the pads holder. You can also place the pads in the fridge overnight. I have used my pads around 10 times, without taking too much care, though that would still work out at 50p per treatment.

On the flip side of this, you could argue you can’t put a price on health, and reducing your need for medication, especially with stronger pain meds is always a good idea.

  • 85%
    Performance - 85%
  • 85%
    Initial Price - 85%
  • 60%
    Running Costs - 60%
77%

Summary

An effective drug-free short term relief of pain that has an attractive initial price but you reoccurring costs could mount up.
OMRON HeatTens Tens Machine With Soothing Heat For Joint And Muscle Pain Relief
  • OMRON HeatTens is a certified pain reliever (also called TENS machine) with Dual Therapy which combines soothing heat and clinically proven TENS technology for joint and muscle pain relief.
  • Simplify your pain-relieving treatment with 6 pre-set programmes for different body zones. You can also customise the treatment with 3 heat and TENS combinations, 3 body massaging modes.
  • Effectively relieve joint pain and muscle pain using TENS technology which helps to block pain message, to trigger the release of endorphins and to improve blood circulation.
  • Rechargeable pain reliever; no need to buy replacement batteries.
  • Free 2 sets of OMRON Gels (HV-PAD-3E) which last up to 30 uses per set and are replaceable.