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Electrical Muscle Stimulation: An Alternative Therapy

Electrical muscle stimulation, often called EMS, is a type of treatment often used in physical therapy or other rehabilitation settings. The two primary uses for this treatment are pain relief and muscle re-education. In most settings, there is a machine that provides an electrical current. Wires from the machine are connected to adhesive patches that are placed on the skin over a predetermined area. Electrical current is then sent from the machine to the patches and delivered into the muscle tissue below, causing a sensory or motor response. This therapeutic treatment is often used for reducing painful symptoms and decreasing local swelling of soft tissue. Ligament sprains, muscle strains, and spasms respond very well to this treatment as it helps in reducing muscle atrophy and increasing blood circulation. Other uses include muscle strengthening, endurance, and spasticity management.

Diagram of Muscle Stimulation

Small amounts of electrical currents are delivered to electrode patches while a combination of low and high-frequency impulses travel into the tissues below the skin. This stimulates the body to secrete natural endorphins and activate natural painkillers such as opioid receptors in the spinal cord, brain stem, and peripheral nervous system. Interferential electrostimulation therapy can be utilized for fast-acting pain relief for patients with painful symptoms.

Electrical stimulation has many benefits that support it in being an effective way to manage pain and re-train muscles after injury or disease. E-stim is non-addictive, and the machines are often compact and user-friendly. They are cost-effective and provide many with an alternative to taking pain medications. There are few risks associated with the use of e-stim. The main shortcoming of e-stim usage is that it will not solve the underlying condition when it comes to pain, this is where Chiropractic and other modalities can help! Using EMS in combination with other treatments can help your body heal, along with the reduction of pain. 

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