Electronic muscle stimulation is commonly used by athletes, doctors of chiropractic and physical therapists to treat pain and muscle spasm and assist in rehabilitation for all parts of the body. It can be used as therapy for restoring muscle tone after surgery or for the disabled. Some companies have even marketed electric muscle stimulation to make muscles appear more toned and decrease fat.
What You’ll Need
Electronic muscle stimulation is usually performed in a physical therapy office or a chiropractic office. This therapy may also be prescribed for use at home with a TENS unit. Electronic therapy consists of a control unit, two lead wires and two to four neurostimulation electrodes. The control unit usually has a timer, pulse width, pulse rate and sensory output knobs. The lead wires connect the control unit and the electrodes and transmit the electric current. The neurostimulation electrodes are the pieces of the equipment that attach to the skin and have a sticky feeling to them.
How Electronic Muscle Stimulation Works
Electronic muscle stimulation works by transmitting an electric current through the skin into the muscles and nerves. Depending on the settings of the machine, it can transmit a current to relieve pain or spasm. The unit can also be set to target a specific muscle or groups of muscles to assist in rehab and tone.
What to Expect from Electronic Muscle Stimulation
When you attach the electrodes, they will feel cold and sticky at first. When the unit is turned on, you may feel a range of sensations, including pins and needles, dull tingling, muscle twitching or full muscle contraction. These sensations will vary based on desired benefits and personal tolerance. Typically, these sensations last only during treatment time. However, with some of the more intense settings, you may have a sensation that the electrodes are still attached and feel the tingling after the machine has been turned off and the electrodes removed. This can last for 30 minutes or more.
When to Use Electronic Muscle Stimulation
Electronic muscle stimulation can be used to help reduce edema or swelling, improve tissue healing and reduce acute or chronic pain. It can be used to target many problems of the muscles as well. These problems include muscle spasm, muscle weakness, healing muscle fibers and re-education to train a muscle to work properly after injury or surgery.
A person with a cardiac pacemaker, heart disease, palpitations or arrhythmia should not use electronic muscle stimulation. This therapy has not been tested on pregnant women, except during labor and delivery. Use according to prescribing physicians or therapist recommendations.