You may also want to read: How Does Electrical Muscle Stimulation Work?
Electrical Muscle Stimulation Machine What is Electric Muscle Stimulation Therapy (EMS)?
EMS is a type of treatment which uses electricity to stimulate nerves in your body. It works by sending small amounts of current through the muscles or other parts of your body. This causes them to contract and relax at will, which results in relief from pain. EMS is used in various forms such as massage, acupuncture, deep tissue massage, exercise classes and even sports. EMS is not just limited to physical therapy. It’s been used in medicine too. For example it was first used to treat patients with cancer back in the 1970s. There are many different kinds of EMS machines available today, but they all work on similar principles. They use a generator to produce high voltage pulses of electricity. These pulses then travel along the nerve to the area being stimulated. The amount of current used depends on how much pressure you need to apply on the affected part of your body. A higher current will cause a greater contraction, while lower currents will result in less movement. When using EMS machines, it is important that you do not squeeze or pinch any sensitive areas of skin when applying the electrical shocks. You may use a layer of protective clothing to cover the skin first. But this isn’t usually necessary if you know what you’re doing. The current feels similar to that of a rubber band snapping on your skin. It is not painful unless you apply too high a setting.
You can also have EMS treatment in a group setting rather than one-on-one with a physical therapist. This is especially true for pain management. For example, a group of people with chronic back pain will come together to exercise with EMS machines.
The patients set the parameters of the machine depending on how much they want to stimulate their muscles. This is then followed by a stretching and strengthening program. They typically start off with low currents since they’re just beginning. As the weeks go by and their bodies become more used to it, they can increase the intensity. The goal of this program is to strengthen the affected muscles so that chronic pain can be managed. This is very similar to other types of physical therapy, just done in a slightly different way.
The EMS machines used in physical therapy are very expensive and not typically found in someone’s home. If you would like to try EMS at home, there are a few ways to get around this. The first way is to buy a TENS unit.
A TENS unit uses the same technology as an EMS machine, but they do not use as strong of currents. TENS units are primarily used for pain relief and can be bought at most drug stores or pharmacies.
Sources & references used in this article:
The seventy percent solution by TL Wahls – Journal of general internal medicine, 2011 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Overview of complex regional pain syndrome and recent management using spinal cord stimulation. by KA Hyatt – AANA journal, 2010 – search.ebscohost.com
Tactile, gustatory, and visual biofeedback stimuli modulate neural substrates of deglutition by IA Humbert, S Joel – Neuroimage, 2012 – Elsevier
Electric stimulation in the treatment of chronic wounds by KF Cutting – WOUNDS UK, 2006 – woundsinternational.com
Visual and noxious electrical stimulus-evoked membrane-potential responses in anterior cingulate cortical neurons by L Ma, L Ning, Z Wang, Y Wang – Molecular Brain, 2016 – molecularbrain.biomedcentral.com
An Epidemic of Pain by WI Do, M Blog – 3030strong.com
Electrical stimulation and swallowing: how much do we know? by IA Humbert, E Michou, PR MacRae… – Seminars in speech and …, 2012 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov