Many people are intimidated at the mention of electrical stimulation. However, there isn’t anything to worry about. Electrical stimulation is a safe and effective method of treatment that can provide pain relief and recovery for several conditions.
A standard electrical stimulation device utilizes self-adhesive electrodes placed around the target treatment area on the body. The electrodes are then connected via wire leads to the unit, through which electricity can pass and ultimately interact with sensory and/or motor nerves.
If you are suffering from a painful condition and you are looking for relief, electrical stimulation may be the answer.
How does electrical stimulation work?
Electrical stimulation contains a variety of different modes to stimulate the nerves in different ways. These modes all consist of different currents, and the current you are prescribed will be dependent upon the nature of your condition and the severity of it. The different types of modes include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), interferential, pre-modulated, Russian, and symmetrical or asymmetrical bi-phasic.
Electrical stimulation has a variety of benefits, including:
- Reduce, eliminate, and/or control pain (both acute and chronic)
- Increase local circulation
- Decrease swelling
- Improve range of motion
- Reduce muscle spasm
- Provide biofeedback (aka improve body awareness)
- Improve motor coordination
- Provide neuromuscular re-education
- Prevent or reverse muscle atrophy (especially after prolonged immobilization, such as a limb being cast as a fracture heals)
One of the biggest reasons electrical stimulation is prescribed is for pain management. This modality can trigger an innate and completely natural analgesic effect by stimulating specific sensory nerve fibers (including A-beta, A-delta, and C fibers), which both decrease the sensation of pain and release neurotransmitters that prolong the pain-relieving effects.
Electrical stimulation is also safe to use on every area of the body – even the anterior neck, eyes, or over areas with damaged skin or decreased sensation. However, electrical stimulation is not for everyone. Those with deep vein thrombosis, those who are pregnant, those with pacemakers, and those with impaired cognition would likely be advised against electrical stimulation.
Some of the most common conditions treated with electrical stimulation include:
- Acute sports-related or auto accident-related injuries
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Muscle strains
- Ligament sprains
- Neurological conditions, such as a stroke
Is electrical stimulation painful?
To put it simply – no! In fact, the intensity of the electrical muscle stimulation or sensory nerve stimulation can be easily modified to the tolerance of each patient. Some patients report feeling a small sensation, such as a “tingly,” “prickly,” or “pins and needles” feeling. When used for muscle strengthening, electrical stimulation can sometimes become a bit uncomfortable, but it should never result in pain.
Get started with electrical stimulation at Recover today:
At our Tulsa, OK physical therapy practice, our main priorities are your comfort, safety, and dignity. You will undergo a physical examination at your initial appointment, in addition to being asked questions about your current condition and medical history. From there, one of our licensed Tulsa, OK physical therapists will create an individualized treatment plan, based on your specific needs.
If our physical therapist believes electrical stimulation will be beneficial to you, he or she will explain it in depth, and it will be incorporated into your treatment plan. During an electrical stimulation treatment, you’ll be asked to sit or lie in a comfortable position, your skin in the target treatment area will be cleaned and prepped, and your PT will guide you step-by-step through the entire treatment.
If you are interested in learning more about electrical stimulation, or if you think it could benefit you, contact Recover today to schedule your consultation. We’ll get you started on the path toward pain relief and recovery!