Electric Muscle Stimulation in Physical Therapy

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Electric Muscle Stimulation (Electrostim)

Electric muscle stimulation -– E stim or electrostim for short -- is a physical therapy modality that can be used to re-initiate muscle contraction as a way of controlling pain, strengthening muscles and managing inflammation.

In an electric muscle stimulation treatment, electrodes are hooked up to an electric stimulation machine and  placed around the affected area of your back or neck. The placement of the electrodes depends on the reason for which the treatment is given, as well as how deep or superficial your therapist intends the current to go. The way the muscle changes shape once it’s exposed to the current is another factor in determining placement of the electrodes.

Your therapist will adjust the controls of the electric stimulation machine until the point where you feel a prickly sensation.  This sensation should be noticeable, but is not overly intense. An electric stimulation  treatment lasts about 10 or 15 minutes.

Electric Stimulation Therapy for Joint Stabilization

Electric muscle stimulation is sometimes used as an adjunct in a person's physical therapy program. Because e-stim ignites muscles and calls them into action, it may help increase spinal stability if used on those that support your joints. Of course, the home exercise program your therapist teaches you will likely be the best way to achieve and maintain joint stability, but electrostim may enhance this process.

E-stim may also help strengthen muscles and increase muscle endurance (how many times a muscle can contract before it fatigues).

Electric Stimulation for Healing and Pain Control

Electric muscle stimulation therapy may enhance tissue healing and inflammation control. It works by reducing swelling and increasing circulation.

E-stim may block nerve transmission at the spinal cord, thereby reducing pain sensations. Many back patients have good luck with TENS, which is a take-home electric stimulation therapy.

Other names for electric muscle stimulation include the following: E stim, electric stimulation, electrostim, muscle stimulation, nerve stimulation.

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