If you’ve ever visited a chiropractor or physical therapist for your soft tissue injury there is a good chance you have experienced a form of electrical muscle stimulation, or e-stim therapy (also referred to as EMS, electormyostimulation or NMES - aka neuromuscular electrical stimulation)
With e-stim, a therapist secures electrode pads to your skin. He or she then turns a dial or presses a button on an electrical muscle stimulation device, a console that is either plugged into the wall or battery-operated. This machine generates electric impulses that stimulate your skeletal muscles to contract. Depending on the device’s program setting, the contractions may be barely noticeable, or they may feel, and look, like involuntary twitches.
The primary purpose of e-stim therapy is to simulate what happens in the body when you voluntarily contract and release a muscle many times in a row. This process strengthens and repairs tissue, particularly muscles which have become shortened, weakened, or atrophied due to injury or disease.
EMS therapy mimics the action potential that comes from the central nervous system. An action potential is what we call it when a neuron (cell in the nervous system) transmits information (electrical impulses) along an axon (the thread-like conduit leading away from the neuron body, toward other cells). When these impulses pass a threshold, the action potential is fired, and something happens. In this case, that something is a muscle contraction.
EMS therapy creates steady electric impulses that stimulate muscle contractions--many of them over a sustained therapy session. This repetitive contracting and relaxing of the muscles have the effect of:
Another form of e-stim therapy called TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) works on nerves rather than muscles. It is used primarily for managing or blocking pain signals to the brain and has been in regular use by doctors and physical therapists since the 1960s.
TENS therapy can issue electrical stimulation at different wavelengths for different purposes (relaxation, circulation, blocking pain) and can be performed at home after the patient has been taught the proper and safe use of the equipment.
Some types of EMS devices (for example, ab-toning waist belts) can be purchased directly by consumers for muscle toning. Over the years some of these models have been banned by the FDA for being unsafe. When used for recovery, rehabilitation, muscle training, or pain relief, however, EMS and TENS devices are normally prescription-only and administered by professionals: for example, chiropractors, sports medicine physicians, physical therapists, or orthopedists.
Both EMS and TENS have been in wide use for decades. When administered by professionals, they are safe and painless and have very few if any side effects. Administered correctly, these techniques can make a difference in pain levels and can aid muscle recovery, relaxation, and rehabilitation.
To find out if you can benefit from this therapy, you should first have an assessment by a physician. People with open wounds or certain health conditions (such as a pacemaker) should not use e-stim or TENS therapy without approval from a doctor.
Please contact Hometown Chiropractic in Salem, UT with any questions about the use of E-Stim or TENS at (801) 504-6370.