March 28, 2021

which is better for tennis elbow, the fiix elbow or TENS unit

Which is better for Tennis Elbow, the Fiix Elbow or TENS?

Among the variety of treatment options available for tennis elbow are the new E5 Fiix Elbow device and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Both are non-invasive, non-drug, affordable interventions that can be administered at home for pain relief. However, the Fiix Elbow, which is an FDA Registered Medical Device specifically designed to treat tennis elbow, ultimately is the best choice to effectively treat this painful, and sometimes chronic, condition.

Which is beter, TENS or Fiix Elbow?

Let’s address which is better for tennis elbow.

Addressing the Cause to Promote Healing

Developed by physical therapists and fitness equipment professionals, the Fiix Elbow wearable device transforms a proven clinical procedure called instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) for convenient self-care at home. Also known as Graston Technique® or Gua Sha®, IASTM is traditionally delivered by physical therapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists, using a stainless-steel tool.

Through deep, compressive strokes to the injured area IASTM breaks down scar tissue, releases adhesions, stimulates circulation and promotes the synthesis of new collagen and connective tissue. Introducing controlled microtrauma to the connective tissue, muscles and tendons elicits an inflammatory response that ultimately helps stimulate healing and functional restoration.

With the Fiix Elbow, treatment is automated and simple. Users just strap the device to their forearm, and the steel massage elements administer concentrated massage to the injured tendon. The protocol is quite manageable: 10 minutes per day, three days per week for eight weeks, along with physical therapist-prescribed basic stretching and strengthening exercises.  

Trials with the Fiix Elbow have shown that 96 percent of participants experienced reduced pain, with an 85 percent increase in grip strength and a 76 percent improvement in functional activities. Instrumental to this significant success is that the Fiix Elbow doesn’t simply mask symptoms, but instead directly addresses the cause of the pain – the tendon – and actively works at the cellular level to encourage healing.

TENS Overview

TENS therapy is used to decrease pain, commonly in conditions such as tendinitis, fibromyalgia, arthritis, neuropathy and more. It involves delivering small electrical impulses through electrodes that are attached to the skin either where pain is felt or at trigger points.

The electric current floods the nervous system, which reduces its ability to transmit pain signals to the spinal cord and brain. Furthermore, TENS increases the body’s production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers. The effect of TENS, then, is temporary pain relief.

While the scientific research has yielded inconsistent results on TENS, anecdotal reports indicate that it is a safe and useful complement to other therapeutic protocols. TENS units are compact, portable and battery powered, and easy to use whenever pain relief is needed. Treatment can be anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes, and can be administered daily.

When it comes to treating tennis elbow, however, TENS on its own is not recommended. While it offers pain relief, effects can wear off as soon as the treatment finishes, or may last up to 24 hours. But electrical stimulation alone does not help to heal the injured tendon or support long-term functional restoration. It merely serves as a short-term analgesic.

Therefore, the Fiix Elbow is better than TENS for efficient, effective tennis elbow treatment.  

Nate Stier MPT, LAT

Owner of Orthopedic & Sports Rehab Physical Therapy Clinics. Former Director of Rehabilitation for the Minnesota Vikings and Graduate of the Mayo School of Health and Sciences.



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