Electric Pulse Therapy

Electrical stimulation, also referred to as e-stim, is a tool that applies electrical stimulation to a muscle or muscle group for pain, spasticity and muscle contraction. It is placed on your skin by electrodes that come in different sizes to the specific area you want to treat. The electrodes deliver impulses through the skin to make a muscle contraction, inhibit spasticity, and relieve chronic pain.

Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) is a method of non-invasive muscle shock therapy that has been used for years and is now being adopted by athletes and frequent travelers because it helps reduce muscle fatigue and soreness and increase the rate of recovery. It also reduces stress on muscles while increasing the range of motion due to decreased stiffness in the joints. The EMS technique can be applied to any part of the body, with or without skin contact.

What can Estim help with?

Electrical stimulation can help build and regain strength in muscles suffering from atrophy. It is also used to inhibit spastic muscles to help gain a specific range of motion that someone may be lacking in. It is most commonly used for spasms in the back which help relieve pain by sending currents from the electrodes into, and through, the skin directly to the spasm itself.

Does Electrical Muscle Stimulation cause pain?

E-stim can be an unusual feeling, but is not a painful therapy. Many who experience low sensation actually enjoy the opportunity to be able to feel their muscles (sometimes for the very first time!). As you would hear our occupational therapists say, sensory drives motor function. If you can’t feel the muscles, you can’t use them, which is why e-stim is a wonderful therapeutic tool.

How Estim therapy works

Electrical stimulation is used in a few ways to achieve different effects, such as muscle strengthening and relaxation. EMS uses short bursts of high-energy, low voltage electric currents that stimulate the muscles. When the electricity is applied to a specific site through electrodes, it interrupts the pain signal transmitting the sensation of pain from the brain to that area. In addition, the electrical energy damages some cells at the application site and stimulates nerves that then transmit more positive signals to other parts of your body. As a result, you will feel less pain and more relief. Estim can target specific muscle groups. The current stimulates the muscles, causing them to contract over time. With continued application, these contractions will cause strengthening of the targeted area and help it relax by increasing blood flow and circulation in both directions. This helps improve flexibility as well. EMS therapy is also known for reducing inflammation and resulting swelling.

Estim has been used for years in physical therapy offices, chiropractic clinics, and some hospitals to increase mobility and maintain strength without overworking a patient’s body part or joint.

Benefits of Electrical Muscle Stimulation are:
• Stim machines help improve people’s bodies by increasing blood flow (circulation) to body parts that are weak or injured, making it easier for them to heal.
• Electric pulse therapy is beneficial because it gets your muscles moving, which can help build up strength in weak areas. Muscle stimulators do this by assisting the nerves to send messages from the brain to the muscles, making it easier for your muscles to move.
• Estim therapy is used to treat injuries by stimulating tissue that has been hurt or damaged. This causes the body’s natural repair process to begin sooner and speeds up recovery time.
• Electric stimulation therapy treatments are not painful, but they should never be stopped mid-session. Turning the power off mid-session will not hurt you, but recovery time can be delayed. Side effects include dizziness and headaches, and estim is not for people with diabetes or heart conditions.

What are the different types of Estim?

At Crawl Walk Jump Run, we currently utilize Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation, or NMES, and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator, or TENS, units. According to the Pennsylvania Physical Therapy Association, an associate of the American Physical Therapy Association, NMES “…involves the use of devices that transmit electrical impulses through electrodes to stimulate muscle groups. There are two different types of NMES: one is functional electrical stimulation (FES) and the second is lateral electrical surface stimulation (LESS).”

We utilize FES a great deal at our facility, as it works to replace stimuli from destroyed nerve pathways through electrical muscle stimulation. One of the machines we utilize FES on is our RT600™, as this form of e-stim works to improve muscle tone, strength, and the ability to increase independence – especially with walking. We also utilize NMES with our VitalStim® unit, helping those with oral motor weakness and feeding difficulties.

Additionally, we utilize TENS units, which apply electrical stimulators directly to the pain site. TENS are commonly used to relieve pain from surgery, symptoms caused by a traumatic brain injury, chronic pain, muscular pain, etc. One of the great benefits of a TENS unit, is that you can use these in an inpatient, outpatient and even a home setting.
Other procedures include:
• Electrical Stimulation of Tissue Repair(ESTR): To alleviate pain by reducing inflammation and improving blood flow
• Interferential Current(IFC): Pulses are helpful in reducing pain.
• Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation(NMES): Useful for increasing muscular strength and recovering muscle function.
• Functional Electrical Stimulation(FES): Aims to create long-term stimulation to keep muscle and motor skills strong.

Who should use Estim Therapies?

Anyone can use estim therapy, with it being a non-invasive method of treatment. Estim is also known for reducing inflammation and resulting swelling. In addition, it’s safe to reduce chronic pain because estim will not damage the nerves through overexertion like other methods such as surgery do. Estim can be taken home by the patient and used on all parts of the body, even when there is no skin contact. The process can be applied virtually anywhere on the body, including the neck, shoulders, legs, and lower back. Electrical Muscle Stimulation targets specific muscle groups with brief, high-energy pulses of low voltage electric currents that stimulate the muscles.

Estim stimulates nerve receptors in the muscles and interrupts pain signals sent from the brain to the body. Estim is also known for increasing range of motion due to decreased stiffness in joints and can help reduce tightness, soreness, and fatigue. Estim is easy to use, portable, and very inexpensive.

How can e-stim be used at home?

As you may or may not already know, various forms of e-stim can certainly be used at home. Most commonly you will see people with their own TENS units, especially if they deal with chronic and deep muscular pain. E-stim units, like smaller four-electrode FES systems, can also be purchased for in-home use by themselves, or in accompaniment with other devices such as a WalkAide.

If your therapist believes an e-stim unit would be beneficial for in-home use, they will incorporate this into your personalized home exercise program, or HEP. Please speak with your therapist if you would like to learn more about the varying forms of electrical stimulation, and how they can benefit your everyday life.

Is the equipment portable?

The portable stimulator is a small battery-operated or rechargeable device that can be worn about the waist. The unit can be programmed, turned on or off as needed for pain control.

Although these units can be purchased or rented, a prescription from a physician may be required. The physical therapist is often the person to teach the patient how to use the device, including proper placement of the electrodes for optimal benefits.

To ensure the patient will benefit from TENS, the portable device is used on a trial basis before the patient takes it home for long-term use. Unfortunately, TENS is not always an effective treatment.

Benefits of a Stim Therapy and how it can help you improve your muscle function

Stim therapy or electrical stimulation therapy (e-stim) is commonly used in physical therapy offices as a way to increase the range of motion, strength, endurance, and overall performance for patients with musculoskeletal injuries.

It’s also been shown that stim therapy may be effective at treating chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, neck pain, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, knee arthritis, hip joint problems, shoulder impingement, frozen shoulders, rotator cuff tears, bursitis, tendinosis, trigger finger, carpal tunnel syndrome, tarsal tunnel syndrome, and other soft tissue disorders.

in this article, we will introduce the different types of stim therapy and discuss the top 10 benefits of using stim therapy.

Types of Stim Therapy

There are many different types of stim therapy devices available on the market today including:

• E-stim machines – These are typically large units that have multiple electrodes attached to various parts of the body. The machine sends an electric current through these electrodes causing muscles to contract and relax. This type of device has been proven to work well for people who need to strengthen their core muscles. It works best when combined with exercise programs designed specifically for each individual patient.
• Hand-held stimulators – These smaller hand-held devices use two small pads connected by wires which send pulses of electricity into the skin. They are often used to treat acute injury situations where there is no time delay between treatment sessions.
• TENS unit – A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS)
This is one of the most common forms of electrical stimulation therapy. It uses surface electrodes placed over painful areas of the body to block nerve impulses from reaching those tissues. When this occurs, the brain receives less information about the area being stimulated so the sensation becomes dulled. In addition, the nerves themselves become desensitized to incoming signals. As a result, they don’t transmit pain messages to the spinal cord.

Ultrasonic wave generators -These devices produce high-frequency sound waves that stimulate deep tissue structures below the skin’s surface. Some studies suggest ultrasound may be more beneficial than traditional massage techniques because it stimulates deeper layers of connective tissue. However, some research suggests that ultrasound might not provide any additional benefit compared to standard manual therapies. Magnetic field stimulators – Magnetic fields are generated using coils wrapped around specific points on the body. Studies show magnetic fields may reduce inflammation and promote healing after surgery. There is limited evidence suggesting that magnetic fields could be useful for reducing pain associated with certain kinds of headaches.

Relieving Back Spasms

Back spasms are notoriously uncomfortable. The sharp pain associated with spasms can be so intense that people are often unable to sleep, sit down or stand upright.

Stimulation devices have been used in physical therapy offices for decades to help patients get relief from back spasms by sending electric currents through electrodes placed on specific areas of the low back. The electric charges cause the muscles to contract and relax.

Electrical stimulation is often the first line of defense against back spasms. e-stim units designed for treating back pain can be worn on your belt or placed in your pocket, freeing you up to go about your normal daily activities (even though you should avoid strenuous activity).

Believe it or not, wearing a TENS unit has been shown to lower the amount of pain medication you need during a spasm, and that means a higher level of comfort.

Strengthening of Weakened Muscles

Muscle Stimulation is also widely used for people who have experienced muscle injuries.

Examples of this are stroke patients who have had a stroke that has caused them to lose the use of certain muscles. Exercising these muscles with an electric stim unit can help strengthen those muscles again, therefore giving the patient more control over their movements. It can also be used after an injury.

This is especially true for older adults who need help with normal daily activities like bathing, dressing and getting up from a chair. Electric stimulation units can help these patients regain strength in their limbs so they’re better able to perform the tasks necessary to live independently at home or in a care facility.

3. Slowing Down the Process of Muscle Atrophy

Muscle atrophy is a natural process where muscles get smaller and weaker due to inactivity.

Typically, when people can’t move (for example, if they’re confined to bed for weeks because of surgery), their muscles begin to shrink and lose mass. This weakens the muscles and makes everyday tasks harder both now and in the future when the patient has recovered and is ready to take up physical activities again.

By exercising muscles with electrical stimulation, patients can maintain their muscle mass and strength while they’re waiting for the injury to heal. Stim therapy does this by stimulating the nerves responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and muscles. These nerve impulses tell the muscles what to do and keep them strong.

Aiding Faster Recovery From Sport Injuries

Sports injuries are an unfortunate reality for athletes.

Examples of sports injuries that can benefit from stim therapy are sprains, strains, and even fractures. They can all benefit from electrical stimulation therapy because it helps promote the healing process by increasing blood flow to the injured area.

This is works in two ways:
Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the muscles that need them most while removing waste products from the area.
• Blood acts as a carrier for the body’s immune system cells to help repair any damage or remove debris from an injured area so it can heal faster.

Enhancing Sports Performance with Stim Therapy

Electrical stimulation increases blood flow, which helps muscles recover from injuries more quickly. Just as it enhances recovery from injuries, electrical stimulation can also enhance sports performance for athletes who are already healthy.

Stim therapy may not directly increase your speed or strength, but it does help improve overall muscle coordination and balance by stimulating the muscles you use to stay upright when you exercise. This means you are able to run faster and perform better during a game or other type of competition.

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