Why would stimulating the muscle with an electric current be a good thing? While it may sound like something from an old Frankenstein movie, Electrical Muscle Stimulation is actually a painless therapy given when pain is a problem.
There are times when our muscles become inflamed or strained either due to injury or overuse. When this occurs, the use of electrical muscle stimulation therapy can be utilized with the purpose of reducing muscle spasms, tightness, and pain through the use of a mild electrical current. This in turn relaxes the muscle so that healing can truly begin.
We have over 600 voluntary muscles in our body that work together to control even the simplest of movements. These muscles work in conjunction with both the joints and bones to provide motion. If there is a misalignment within this network then a problem occurs in the form of a muscle spasm the nerve and the muscle have been disrupted. If this condition is left untreated, chronic pain can become permanent. Fortunately, a Doctor of Chiropractic is trained on the use of electrical muscle stimulation to address this condition.
There are two types of this therapy, one that is performed within the office and the other that is portable, and both produce a mild heat. The former is used to prevent or reduce muscle atrophy, which is the weakening or loss of muscle tone usually experienced after surgery or injury. It also helps by
- increasing blood flow to the muscles,
- increasing muscle strength,
- enhancing muscle endurance,
- increasing range of motion, and
- relieving muscle pain.
The portable treatment is given through a device called a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation unit, or TENS. This option allows the patient to administer pain relief at home through small electrical pulses across the skin and along the nerve strands. These pulses help prevent pain signals from reaching the brain because it stimulates the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killers. The patient simply attaches the small pads on the affected area and turns the TENS on to the prescribed level.
In both cases the prescribed treatment is typically a 10-15 minute session, the length of time depending on how acute the injury is. Many times a single treatment has a significant impact on lowering or eliminating the pain. From that point on treatment is only as needed, meaning if a patient brings a TENS unit home they have the ability to administer the stimulation if the pain returns.
The foundation to your wellness as you age is understanding that you have options. Knowing what they are helps you to get back to high quality living sooner versus later. Keep yourself informed.