What Is Electrical Stimulation?

Electrical stimulation therapy (E-Stim, FES, or NMES) uses electrodes to send weak electric shocks to the body. This therapy prevents muscle atrophy and reduces stroke symptoms. It also increases the function and strength of muscles. The stimulation causes the muscles to contract, allowing a patient with paralysis to regain some degree of movement and strength. Proper electrode placement is vital for the success of electrical stimulation therapy.

Types of Electrical Stimulation


There are different types of e-stim. The two main types are Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS. TENS is often used for treating pain — both acute and chronic. Signals are sent to block or reduce pain signals that travel to the brain. EMS uses a stronger current that works to get the muscles to contract.

It can help to improve muscle strength and mobility. Other types of e-stim include Electrical Stimulation for Tissue Repair (ESTR), Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES), and Interferential Current (IFC). There is also Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) and Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS).

When Electrical Simulation Is Used


E-stim is used during physical therapy to accomplish a number of tasks. If a patient has an injury or illness that causes limited functional mobility or pain, the therapy can be useful. A physical therapist will usually use the treatment as part of the rehabilitation program. Conditions that benefit from the therapy include post-surgical pain and lower back pain. Other conditions include tendonitis, bursitis, and poor motor control, and muscle weakness.

Why Use Electrical Stimulation?


There are different reasons why electrical stimulation is used during physical therapy. First, the stimulation can be used as a means of administering inflammation medication. It can also be used to contract the muscles that are not functioning effectively or those that are weak. E-stim can be used effectively to reduce spasms or pain.

There is evidence to show that e-stim can be effective in treating stubborn wounds. It is important to know that e-stim may be useful as part of your rehab program. It does, however, need to be used alongside other exercises.

What to Expect During Therapy


If your physical therapist decides to use electrical stimulation, it is a good idea to know what to expect. The therapist will start by exposing the part of the body that is being treated. Electrodes are then applied to the skin. The electrodes are connected to a stimulation machine or device through a wire.

You will experience slight tingling that will increase until the sensation feels strong but still comfortable. If the therapy is seeking to provide pain relief or for muscle spasms, you should relax during treatment. If improving muscle function is the objective, you might be required to contract the muscles while the device is working.

If you experience pain or limited mobility, talk to your doctor and find out if you can benefit from electrical stimulation. The use of electrical impulses may be slightly uncomfortable, but the therapy should never hurt. If you experience any pain during the treatment, you need to inform your therapist. The therapist will adjust or discontinue the therapy.

To know more about electrical stimulation, visit Sports Performance & Spine at our offices in Leechburg or Murrysville, Pennsylvania. You can also call (724) 236-0829 or (724) 286-4992 to book an appointment today.

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