ELECTRICAL STIMULATION THERAPY
Electrical stimulation is an adjunct treatment used by physiotherapists for pain relief or stimulation of muscular contractions to improve the innervation of muscles. It can help prevent atrophy and build strength in patients with injuries. It is also helpful in keeping muscles active especially after any type of spinal cord injury or strokes.
Types of Electrical Stimulation Therapy
In our clinic, we use 3 common types of electrical stimulation depending on the treatment required.
For pain relief:
- TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)
- IFC (Interferential Current)
For muscle stimulation:
- NMES (Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation)
How Does Electrical Stimulation Relief Pain?
The electrical impulse from the TENS or IFC machine can interrupt the pain signals that travel to the brain. By placing the electrodes around the area of pain, the nerves sense the electrical impulse from the machine instead of the painful stimulant from the injured tissue. This blocks the painful stimulant from traveling to the brain, easing your pain temporarily.
The Theory of Pain
Another proposed theory is the gate control theory of pain. The painful stimulants are transmitted to the brain through transmission cells. Using electrical stimulation, it reduces the activity of transmission cells, preventing them from transmitting painful stimulant to the brain.
NMES (Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation)
One of the main contributing factors affecting muscle strength is the ability to recruit fibers for a particular muscle group. NMES can stimulate and recruit more fibers of the muscle group that lacks muscle fiber recruitment.
The electrical impulses trigger muscle contractions. Through repeated practice with the assistance of NMES, your body becomes better at finding its way to recruit that muscle. With increased muscle fiber recruitment, it regenerates the axon in the nerve, allowing you to recruit more muscle fibers.
This is helpful in the initial phase of physiotherapy, especially if you have difficulty contracting your muscles. It is very useful in re-educating the muscles, especially after post-op, accelerating the learning process of activating your muscles.
Application of Electrical Stimulation
2-4 electrodes will be placed on the area being treated. These electrodes are linked to the machine supplying the electrical impulses from the wire to the electrodes and finally your skin. You might feel a mild to a moderate tingling sensation. However, if you feel an uncomfortable or intense tingling sensation, please inform your physiotherapist and we will stop the machine immediately.