Electrical Stimulation Therapy

What is Electrical Stimulation?

Electrical Stimulation - Physical Therapy Treatments - Electrical Stimulation

Electrical Stimulation or Electrotherapy is a technique used to repair injured muscles and reduce pain. It works by sending mild electrical pulses to the muscles and nerves through the skin. These electrical pulses mimic the action of signals coming from cells in your nervous system. They then target dysfunctions located in your muscles or nerves.

For muscle recovery, electrical pulses are sent to targeted muscles to make them contract. By continuously contracting and relaxing these muscles, blood flow increases, helping repair the damaged muscles. The repeated contraction and relaxation cycles can also improve muscle strength.

This procedure also "trains" muscles to respond to the body's natural signals to contract. This is especially helpful for stroke survivors who must relearn basic motor functions.
For pain relief, this therapy block pain receptors' messages from being sent to the brain.

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What benefits does Electrotherapy provide?

This therapy has shown to be an effective therapeutic option for individuals suffering from pain and weakness. Below are some of the benefits clients may experience:

  • Decrease pain
  • Muscle re-education and Strengthening
  • Increase range of motion
  • Increase circulation
  • Decrease spasticity
  • Reduce edema
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Improve overall function

Who benefits from ELECTROTHERAPY?

This procedure is usually employed in conjunction with other medical techniques and treatments, rather than by itself. For patients having physical therapy, electrotherapy may reduce pain sufficiently for them to participate more actively in selected exercises. this electrical therapy is among the most preferred pain relief options. It is getting more attention as an alternative to risky pain relief medications.

Electrotherapy may be appropriate for the following conditions:

Back pain
Cancer-related pain
Diabetic nerve pain
Dysphagia (trouble swallowing)
Joint pain
Migraine headaches
Muscle injury from trauma or disease
Poor muscle strength
Post-surgical pain
Urinary incontinence
Spinal cord injury
Surgery recovery
Stimulating bone growth
Wound healing
Muscle strengthening (mainly for high-performance athletes, like long-distance runners, or military personnel involved in high-intensity training)
Researchers are also working on ways to use this therapy to help people with advanced multiple sclerosis walk again.

When ELECTRICAL STIMULATION is not recommended?

Even when electrotherapy is safe to treat numerous conditions, there are some contraindications.

Areas where you should not apply:

  • Carotid sinus/anterior transcervical area
  • Heart transthoracic area
  • Abdominal, low back and pelvic area during pregnancy
  • Cancerous lesions
  • Over malignant tissue
  • Moisty wounds
  • Superficial metal (e.g. staples, pins, external fixators)
  • Near the eyes or over reproductive organs

Conditions when you should not get this therapy:

  • If you're prone to seizures
  • Altered tissue sensation
  • Impaired mental status
  • Presence of an implanted electrical device like a cardiac pacemaker, defibrillator, or implanted pain stimulators

What to expect during electrical stimulation?

The area of your body being treated will be exposed.
The therapist will attach electrodes to your skin, which are going to be connected via wire to an electrical machine.
You will feel a slight tingling sensation.
The setting will start on low and gradually increases until you feel a strong but still comfortable sensation.
If the electrotherapy is used for muscle spasm or pain relief, the treatment will be relaxing.
If the electricity is used to improve muscular strength or function, you may feel your muscle twitch or contract repeatedly.
The application of electrical impulses may sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable, but they should never hurt. If you feel pain during a session, tell the therapist in charge so your treatment can be adjusted or discontinued.
Each electrotherapy session may last from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the condition being treated.
Electrical Stimulation - man on machine

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