Electrical Muscle Stimulation
Electrical muscle stimulation therapy (ESTIM) is a safe and effective method of treatment that can provide pain relief and recovery for several conditions. A standard electrical stimulation device, such as a tens unit, utilizes self-adhesive electrodes placed around the target treatment area on the body. The electrodes of the tens machine are then connected via wire leads to the unit, through which electricity can pass and ultimately interact with sensory and/or motor nerves.
If you are suffering from a painful condition and you are looking for relief, electrical muscle stimulation may be the answer. Request an appointment with OSR Physical Therapy at one of our locations in Anthem, Phoenix, Peoria, Gilbert, Scottsdale, Sun City, & Glendale, or Moon Valley today to learn more about electric massage therapy.
How will functional electrical stimulation benefit me?
At our physical therapy practice, our main priorities are your comfort, safety, and dignity. With electric muscle therapy, you will undergo a physical examination at your initial appointment, in addition to being asked questions about your current condition and medical history. From there, one of our licensed physical therapists will create an individualized estim treatment plan, based on your specific needs.
If our physical therapist believes electrical muscle stimulation will be beneficial to you, he or she will explain it in-depth, and it will be incorporated into your treatment plan. During an electrical stimulation treatment, you’ll be asked to sit or lie in a comfortable position, your skin in the target treatment area will be cleaned and prepped, and your PT will guide you step-by-step through the entire treatment.
Will electrical stimulation therapy hurt me?
To put it simply – no! In fact, the intensity of the electrical muscle stimulation or sensory nerve stimulation can be easily modified to the tolerance of each patient.
Estim contains a variety of different modes to stimulate the nerves in different ways. These modes all consist of different currents, and the current you are prescribed will be dependent upon the nature of your condition and the severity of it. The different types of modes include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), interferential, pre-modulated, Russian, and symmetrical or asymmetrical bi-phasic.
Some patients report feeling a small sensation, such as a “tingly,” “prickly,” or “pins and needles” feeling during estim treatment. When used for muscle strengthening, electrical massage therapy from a tens unit can sometimes become a bit uncomfortable, but it should never result in pain.
What should I experience from electrical muscle stimulation therapy?
One of the biggest reasons electrical stimulation is prescribed is for pain management. This modality can trigger an innate and completely natural analgesic effect by stimulating specific sensory nerve fibers (including A-beta, A-delta, and C fibers), which both decrease the sensation of pain and release neurotransmitters that prolong the pain-relieving effects.
Electrical stimulation therapy has a variety of other benefits, including:
- Decrease swelling
- Reduce muscle spasm
- Improve range of motion
- Increase local circulation
- Improve motor coordination
- Provide neuromuscular re-education
- Provide biofeedback (aka improve body awareness)
- Prevent or reverse muscle atrophy (especially after prolonged immobilization, such as a limb being cast as a fracture heals)
- Reduce, eliminate, and/or control pain (both acute and chronic)
Electrical stimulation therapy is also safe to use on every area of the body – even the anterior neck, eyes, or over areas with damaged skin or decreased sensation. However, using a tens machine is not for everyone. Those with deep vein thrombosis, those who are pregnant, those with pacemakers, and those with impaired cognition would likely be advised against electrical stimulation.
Some of the most common conditions treated with electrical stimulation include:
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Ligament sprains
- Muscle strains
- Acute sports-related or auto accident-related injuries
- Neurological conditions, such as a stroke
Consult with a physical therapist at OSR today!
If you are interested in learning more about electrical muscle stimulation therapy, or if you think it could benefit you, contact OSR Physical Therapy today to request an appointment. We’ll get you started on the path toward pain relief and recovery through electrical stimulation physical therapy techniques!