Everything You Need To Know About Electrotherapy
If you have chronic pain or muscle pain and have tried just about every remedy, it may be time to try electrotherapy. While it sounds like it may involve innovative technology, electrotherapy is an old remedy that’s become a newly accepted practice.
Electrotherapy treatment can be highly effective and can even be done at home - but be sure you’re informed before you give it a try. There are four questions you should ask yourself when considering a new treatment.
1. First off, what exactly is electrotherapy?
Also called electromagnetic therapy, electrotherapy is a process in which small doses of electric currents are delivered to problem areas of the body to stimulate nerves and muscles. It is mainly used to alleviate pain, drive the regeneration of tissue and strengthen damaged or weak muscles. It can also be used to improve circulation and stimulate bone growth. The process aims to improve your body’s basic physical functions.
There are several types of electrotherapy, but the two most popular are TENS and EMS. The most commonly used form is TENS, which stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Transcutaneous means the treatment is only skin-deep.
First, small square-shaped adhesive pads called electrodes, which are attached to an electrical current device, are placed on the problem area. Consumer-friendly TENS therapy units often eliminate the wiring and combine the electrodes with the electric current machine into a single device that can be worn. It includes a handheld controller that you can use to control the dosage of the electrical current. The discreet garment design allows you to use the device at home, at work or wherever you’d like.
The second most commonly used form of electrotherapy is EMS – electrical muscle stimulation. EMS also sends small electrical currents to problem areas, but it aims to cause muscle contraction instead of nerve stimulation. In short, TENS stimulates the nerves while EMS stimulates the muscles.
EMS imitates the signal that the brain sends to muscles, causing them to move. This can increase circulation, relax muscle spasms, reduce inflammation, ease tension and strengthen muscles. Like TENS, EMS can also be used to provide pain relief, but it does a little more for your muscles.
2. Is electrotherapy safe?
Absolutely. However, like any remedy, it is possible to overuse this procedure. If overused, your body may grow so accustomed to nerve and muscle stimulation that it becomes dependent on it. However, when electrotherapy is used correctly, it can propel the rehabilitation process. Because electrotherapy does not travel deeper than 2 inches of muscle, it is very safe to use. However, you may not want to use electrotherapy if you:
- Are in the early stages of pregnancy
- Experience numbness in the problem area
- Have lymphedema
You may want to exercise caution and consult with your doctor if you have:
- A pacemaker
- Suffered from a stroke
- Undiagnosed pain
- A cardiac condition
- Experienced cancer
- Have epilepsy
You should consult your doctor before trying electrotherapy if you are unsure. Otherwise, feel free to use electrotherapy to treat chronic pain conditions or muscle pain.
3. What can I use electrotherapy for?
Electrotherapy addresses medical conditions that involve chronic nerve pain. You can use electrotherapy to improve a wide variety of conditions.
TENS electrotherapy can be used to improve:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic back pain
- Postoperative pain
EMS electrotherapy can be used to improve:
- Muscle spasms
- Poor blood circulation
- Stiff joints
- Muscle injury
- Weak muscles
- Labor pain
These are just some of the conditions that electrotherapy can alleviate. If you would like to know if TENS or EMS electromagnetic therapy can relieve pain associated with another type of chronic pain or muscle pain, consult with your doctor or physical therapist to see if this may be an option for you.
4. How effective is electrotherapy?
While evidence on electrotherapy is inconclusive, keep in mind that electrotherapy is not meant to replace other medical treatment; it should be used in tandem with your existing treatment. The evidence is inconclusive so far – electrotherapy works for some people and not for others. But it doesn’t have a negative or regressive impact if it doesn’t turn out to be the best solution for you – so why not give it a shot?
If you decide that you want to try electrotherapy, you can purchase your own electrotherapy equipment to use at home. However, it is recommended that you test electrotherapy in a medical facility first. Once you’ve tried it out, feel free to use the electrotherapy equipment available here at MMAR Medical at home at your convenience. Our products are meant to be accessible not just to medical facilities but also to consumers, which is why we offer high-quality medical equipment at an affordable price. Reach out to us with any questions you may have. And feel free to leave a comment about your own experiences below!