Electrical Muscle Stimulation
Electric muscle stimulation (EMS) is a method of treatment frequently used in chiropractic therapy to relieve muscle spasms and pain. During EMS, electrodes attached to an electric stimulation machine are placed on the patient's areas of discomfort, transmitting mild electrical current to the region. The purpose of EMS is to decrease pain, strengthen muscles, and reduce inflammation. Patients who undergo electric muscle stimulation most often find it soothing and pleasant, something like a deep electrical massage.
Benefits of Electrical Muscle Stimulation
Electrical muscle stimulation may be used to treat an injury that has left certain muscles unused for a long period of time. By forcing the contraction of these muscles through electrical stimulation, weakened muscles are strengthened. Electrical muscle stimulation may also be used to slow or prevent the effects of muscle atrophy by keeping weakened muscles active. EMS has also been effectively used to treat pain and increase mobility in patients suffering from osteoarthritis. EMS is used to control pain in two ways: by blocking nerve signals and by releasing endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. The electrical stimulation can also be used to cause rapid involuntary muscle contractions that simulate voluntary ones. These contractions help to rehabilitate and strengthen the muscles involved.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation Treatment
Electrodes are attached to the skin with adhesive pads. Once the electrodes are placed on the patient's back, neck, shoulder, knee, ankle or wrist, the level of stimulation is adjusted according to the patient's sensitivity. Normally the patient is advised to tolerate the strongest intensity that feels comfortable in order to reap the greatest benefit from the treatment. Patients may experience a tingling or prickly sensation, but EMS should never be painful.
Electric muscle stimulation is an effective chiropractic tool, increasing circulation, reducing inflammation and relieving pain. For the great majority of patients, it provides relief from acute pain and eases muscle tension. EMS is a safe form of treatment. Risks are minimal and include possible allergic reaction to the adhesive on the electrode pads or, rarely, a burn to the skin because of too high an intensity level of electrical current.