Dr. Ho’s Pain Therapy System Review: Can It Relieve Pain?

By Anthony Dugarte, M.D., C.S.C.S
Updated on: May 12, 2020

What is Dr. Ho's Pain Therapy System?

Dr. Ho claims that the Pain Therapy System can relieve pain, ease muscle tension, and improve circulation through transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulations (TENS).

Pain is among the most common reasons for a trip to the doctor’s office. More than 20% of US adults are estimated to suffer from chronic pain.

As the source of the pain can be wide-ranging, the treatment choices are just as variable. Common management options can include medications, supplements, ointments and creams, hot and cold packs, physical therapy, as well as more invasive medical procedures.

Both your pain and its management can carry substantial physical, emotional, and financial burdens.

Dr. Ho claims that his Pain Therapy System provides a drug-free and more cost-effective option for addressing your pain.

In fact, he claims that the Pain Therapy System can be used to manage the following conditions:

  • Headaches
  • Back Pain
  • Neck and Shoulder Pain
  • Joint Pain
  • Nerve Pain
  • General Aches and Pains

In this article, we’ll help you determine if these claims are true by detailing the recommended use of the device, reviewing the science behind TENS, as well as addressing the available purchasing options for the Pain Therapy System.

  • Drug-free and non-invasive
  • Unlikely to cause harm
  • Managing pain from home is convenient
  • Favorable return policy
  • Strong evidence supporting efficacy is lacking
  • Will not address the underlying source of the pain
  • Pricy, and replacement pads can add considerable cost
  • Many comparable devices are more affordably priced
  • Reviews at Amazon are mediocre

How to Use Your Pain Therapy System

Dr. Ho claims that the Pain Therapy System can help relieve pain from the comfort of your own home. This is said to be accomplished through TENS - the application of a gentle electrical current through adhesive massage pads.

To use your Pain Therapy System, start by placing the self-adhesive pads on to the skin overlying your pain. Next, click on the power dial.

Once the unit powers on, you can gradually increase the intensity and choose from three separate massage patterns modules; deep, vigorous, or gentle, calming massage. Also, each module offers four different massage techniques.

Set the built-in timer for 10 or 20 minutes - the Pain Therapy System will shut off automatically after your desired duration.

According to the website, TENS should work by sending electrical impulses along your nerves to prevent pain signals from reaching your brain. Dr. Ho claims that this will help relieve pain, decrease muscle tensions and spasms, and improve circulation in as little as 20 minutes.

Is There Any Science Backing the Pain Therapy System?

According to the product page, Dr. Ho commissioned clinical investigations that examined the proposed benefits of the Pain Therapy System.

While the Pain Therapy System was found to be effective in relieving muscle stiffness and tension in pain clinic patients when compared to the control group, this study was funded by Dr. Ho.

Also, without being published in a medical journal, it is unlikely that this study has undergone a rigorous peer-review process. Thus, results must be taken with a grain of salt.

The ability of TENS to relieve a variety of pain-related conditions has been rigorously studied elsewhere, however.

This review concluded that TENS might represent a safer option for pain relief when compared to other medical managements. However, the potential effects may be limited as individuals develop a tolerance to their TENS device.

In a review of 12 randomized trials, TENS did not improve symptoms related to chronic back pain, though researchers did conclude that it may offer short term improvements in functional disability. When reviewing 9 randomized studies, researchers similarly found the evidence supporting TENS as a back pain treatment to be lacking, mainly due to poor study quality.

In a study examining previous reviews of TENS use in those with chronic pain, researchers were unable to draw a strong conclusion. Again, they found the available evidence to be insufficient to effectively determine if TENS is beneficial or harmful in those with chronic pain.

Another recent large review also found the available evidence to be inconclusive regarding the ability of TENS to benefit acute low back pain.

As you can see, TENS is a well-studied topic. Unfortunately, due to the variety of study subjects, methods, and results, it has been challenging to draw strong conclusions regarding the effectiveness of TENS.

Is the Pain Therapy System Safe?

TENS devices like the Pain Therapy System are generally safe to use, though there are some things you should know about before using.

The risk for serious harm is unlikely, but minor side effects related to skin irritation are possible. You may unknowingly have an allergy to the adhesive used in the skin pads.

Shaving or trimming the area to which you apply the pads can limit irritation and ingrown hairs from repeated use of your TENS. Similarly, your skin should always be clean before pad placement.

While pads are reusable, they should also be kept clean. Ensure that the adhesive cover is free of dirt, debris, hair, etc. when you store them away and replace them frequently.

You should avoid placing pads over broken skin, cuts, abrasions, bruising, etc. to avoid unwanted pain or infections.

Lastly, it is advised that those with heart pacemakers or epilepsy, as well as those who are pregnant, should avoid the use of TENS.

The biggest risk for adverse effects when using TENS is that these devices do not address the underlying causes of pain. They simply mask the signal. Without properly identifying the source of your symptoms and taking proper steps in management, you may never truly experience relief.

Speak with a doctor to determine the best plan of care.

Pain Therapy System: The Cost

Dr. Ho’s Pain Therapy System can be purchased directly from the product page.

Three different options are available:

The Basic Package comes with the TENS unit, 8 regular pads, 2 large pads, foot pads, a travel bag, and an instructional DVD. It currently costs $199.99.

The Deluxe Package includes the same items except that you get double the amount of regular and large pads. This package costs $229.99.

Lastly, the Ultimate Package includes Dr. Ho’s Pain Therapy Back Relief Belt and Magic Heat Pad in addition to the contents of the Deluxe Package. It costs $279.99.

You can also purchase pad replacements. The kits vary in both the size and number of pads included and range from $35-$50.

Like other products offered by Dr. Ho, the Pain Therapy System is backed by a 90-day guarantee. If you’re unsatisfied, email drho@drhonow.com or call 1-877-DrHoNow (1-888-816-6547) to process your return.

The same packages are also available through Amazon and are priced similarly. Keep in mind that you’ll miss out on the 90-day guarantee with this option, however.

What Are the Alternatives?

Dr. Ho’s Pain Therapy System is not the only TENS unit on the market. With a little bit of investigating, you are likely to find comparable devices available for purchase in-store or online.

For example, the TENS Massager from iReliev comes with 20 pads and offers 8 different settings. At $59, it is less than a quarter of Dr. Ho’s intermediate package.

iReliev also offers a 100% money-back guarantee and has a 4.6-star rating on 677 reviews at Amazon.

This unit offers many additional pads, a variety of settings, and a 60-minute built-in timer. Considering the cost and the return policy, this is probably a better place to start if you’re considering a TENS unit.

The Bottom Line

Dr. Ho’s Pain Therapy System does offer convenience though the research in support of TENS is lacking. However, you should be aware that even if effective, TENS only addresses the symptom and not the underlying cause.

Therefore, you may find relief during use, but still experience pain when you’re not using the Pain Therapy System.

Nonetheless, the 90-day guarantee does allow ample time to determine if the Pain Therapy System can offer benefits. Though the system is pricey, this helps eliminate much of the financial risk to try it.

At HighYa, 16 users rate the Pain Therapy System 2.9-stars. Those unhappy cite product malfunctions, pad durability, and issues with the return policy. Customer support did seem to address all concerns and mentioned that they couldn’t control return policies when units are purchased through other vendors.

TENS may provide some relief, but given the available research, opting for a more cost-effective unit may be a better idea before splurging for the pricier system offered by Dr. Ho.

Either way, you should speak with your doctor about addressing the cause of your pain. Otherwise, it may persist even with using TENS and other therapeutic options.

Customer Reviews

Start your review of Dr. Ho’s Pain Therapy System:
  • 17 Customer Reviews
  • 47% Recommend This Product
2.8 out of 5
5 star: 41% 4 star: 0% 3 star: 5% 2 star: 0% 1 star: 52%

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  • Like getting a tattoo

    • By Jen Bauer,
    • Canada,
    • Apr 3, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    If you think getting a tattoo is relaxing, then this is the system for you.

    I made sure I followed the instructions and dampened my pads before putting it on my skin, but every time is starts off feeling like a tattoo needle is violently attacking my skin. Very painful! A few times it would subside and eventually feel fine, however, that initial start to my treatment is so painful that I dread using the system, and if I find the courage to go ahead, I end up crying from the pain!

    I have had TENS therapy at physiotherapy appointments, and it NEVER felt painful. I even bought news pads within a week of my purchase of this system to make sure I did not have a bad set of pads, but it was the same result. I have 30 days to return it for a full refund, and I am returning tomorrow with 15 days left on my return timeline. That's how painful it is!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Great product

    Overall Experience:

    I do have numbness and pain in my buttocks. My son bought the Dr. Ho's Pain Therapy System Pro through HSN in the USA. This is a great product because it relieves the pain and the numbness does not bother me that much anymore after using it. And, I like the company's proprietary auto modulating pain relieving waves which other ones do not have.

    I just started using the unit over a week ago and so far it works great for me.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

  • Be careful when you buy the circulation promoter

    • By Raylene S.,
    • Colorado,
    • Apr 30, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Be careful when you buy the circulation promoter. You cannot return this even when you break the seal! What a rip off. I just turned on the circulation part for the feet. Because I did this, I can no longer return. So how are you supposed to test it, because when you test it, it is not returnable. How are you supposed to test a product and then not to be able to return this! What a rip off!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Apr 30, 2019

      Company Response from DR-HO'S

      Hi Raylene, we are sorry to hear you had issues with this unit, however, our Return Policy covers a 90 day period when you purchase directly from us. https://drhonow.com/en_ca/90-day-money-back/

      I encourage you to call our Customer Care team at 1-877-374-6669 to resolve this issue, as you can certainly return after you have used the unit, provided it is within out 90 days.

      If you purchased from another retailer, you would have to abide by their return policies, as we can not control other retailers return policies.

  • Ask all questions you can before you buy it!

    Overall Experience:

    I never used the product, so I can't say that it's good or bad. I returned it because what they said that it will cost me wasn't true, and they charge me more. They will start sending product and charging to your credit card until you do something. Now I had to pay to return it via certified mail and wait for my refund.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • The best

    • By Tamara A.,
    • Canada,
    • May 27, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I had back pain for two weeks, so I went into a Walmart pharmacy to buy some back pain pills. I was surprised to see the Dr. Ho machine there for $159.00. I was very scared to buy it, but at that point, I would try anything. I will swear on this. That night it was working and the next day my back was good. The best money spent. I would swear on this.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    • Mar 5, 2019

      Company Response from DR-HO'S

      We are honored you took a chance on us and we are so glad that we provided you with the relief you needed!

  • Awful

    • By Natty P.,
    • Canada,
    • Feb 19, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I was sent a faulty remote. It stopped working after months and they expect me to pay $25 plus shipping. SCAM, I will never buy stuff from TV again.

    Poor business. Customer service does not understand English at all.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Apr 30, 2019

      Company Response from DR-HO'S

      Hi Natty, sorry to hear you had an issue with your remote. We have a 1-year warranty for our products. If you have your receipt, we can repair/replace your unit.

  • Good product

    • By Judy C.,
    • Ontario, Canada,
    • Jun 29, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I have been using this product for almost a week. I am feeling much less pain than when I started out. I am experiencing a lower back problem in the left buttocks and upper thigh. I was very skeptical, but am very pleased with the results so far. I am also doing stretching exercises, which I was unable to do before I used this device. I would recommend this product.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    • Mar 5, 2019

      Company Response from DR-HO'S

      Thank you Judy! We are happy to hear that you are feeling better and can now do your stretching exercises!

  • Great product!

    • By Daniella H.,
    • Timnath, CO,
    • Sep 11, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I used to be a patient of Dr. Ho in Toronto and had the original pain therapy system, which helped me a lot with migraines, neck, shoulder and back pain.

    It got lost as I moved around a lot. I recently had a severe muscle spasm in my mid/lower back. I remembered Dr. Ho's system and ordered a new one online. After two weeks of painkillers, muscle relaxant and a cortisone injection, I still had quite a lot of pain, until I started using the pain therapy system. As in the past, it helps me a lot, and I felt relief after just one session.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    • Mar 5, 2019

      Company Response from DR-HO'S

      It's wonderful to hear that you are getting the relief you need with our system. In addition, we are happy that you remembered us from your clinic days!

  • Garbage

    • By Ghislain B.,
    • Manitoba, Canada,
    • Aug 16, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    That is the worst piece of garbage I ever bought. Never in my whole life I'm going to buy that. Supposed to be a doctor, more like a charlatan. They text me back and I never saw a penny, yet it has been over 6 months. I can say goodbye to my money.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Aug 19, 2019

      Company Response from DR-HO'S

      Hi Ghislain, thank you for reaching out to us. It is not in our policy to ever "text" with customers, so I am unsure who you are dealing with regarding your purchase. I invite you to please contact our Customer Care team at 1-877-374-6669 and we can verify your purchase and provide receipts to you.

  • Mixed bag

    • By Anne M.,
    • Northern Idaho,
    • Aug 8, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I purchased the Dr. Ho Pro Deluxe Package in June 2019. While the main unit works extremely well for relieving pain and muscle spasms from my generalized dystonia, the smaller pads separate too easily (after 1 or 2 uses) and are no longer viable.

    I replaced the Dr. Ho pads with much better quality professional-grade TENS pads in order to benefit from the Pain Therapy System. These new pads are also much less expensive.

    The travel foot therapy pads, however, did not work well for me at all. I followed instructions, used the system while seated, and found no relief. Instead, the plastic knobs had nearly embedded in my skin and my son had to peel them off both of my feet. Thankfully, no skin was punctured.

    I have found that using the professional-grade TENS pads on the bottom of my feet provide the best results for my foot pain.

    Dr. Ho's did offer me replacement pads, but I opted to stick with what I know works.

    The electronic unit for Dr. Ho's Pain Therapy System is excellent and offers much more pain relief than a typical TENS unit. However, the gel pads are overly priced for the poor quality, and the traveling foot therapy pads aren't worth the pain for tender feet.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

  • Absolutely love it.

    • By Daniel S.,
    • Joliet, IL,
    • Mar 19, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I just got it today from HSN. I must say I am completely satisfied. I have spent the day trying the different attachments and finding my settings. I have not felt this tense free since high school. The foot pads work magnificently. Aches and pains are gone that I didn’t even realize I had. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of Dr. Ho’s products. Thank you for what is probably going to be the best night sleep I have had in a while.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    • Mar 21, 2019

      Company Response from DR-HO'S

      Hi Daniel! Thank you so much for letting us know how much you love it! We are so glad that you are feeling pain-free and sleeping well!

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