What is Electrical Muscle Stimulation?
Electrical stimulation treatments involve placing electrodes on the skin over painful or afflicted areas. When activated, the electrodes send small electrical pulses to the muscles below the electrodes, which in turn cause them to become innervated and leads to repeated muscle contractions. While this may sound unpleasant to some, the process is pain free and the contractions often result in a tingling or warming sensation.
What are the Benefits of Electrical Muscle Stimulation?
One of the main uses of electrical stimulation is for pain relief of the patient. The electrically innervated muscles cause repeated contractions, which leads to an increased amount of blood flow to the area, hastening the healing process. Increasing the blood flow helps to reduce the inflammation around the injury, which also increases the patients' range of motion. Stimulating the muscles can lead to the release of endorphins in the brain as well. These neurotransmitters, the same ones that are released after working out, tend to cause a feeling of euphoria and they enhance immune responses that help to regulate pain.
Electrical stimulation can also help to prevent muscle guarding, in which muscles become tense to prevent pain or further injury. The electrical impulses cause the guarding muscles to become fatigued, allowing them to fully relax. Relaxation of the muscles helps to maximize the effects of later treatments. Electrical stimulation can also prevent muscle death and degradation. People with injuries often tend to avoid activities that cause pain or discomfort to the injured area. Doing so can actually lead to muscle degradation when muscles surrounding the injury are not utilized. Muscle contractions via electrical stimulation can help retain muscle mass, tone and strength, even when the surrounding area is injured.
St. Lawrence University '15
Mirror Lake Chiropractic Intern