What is Electrical Muscle Stimulation

What is Electrical Muscle Stimulation - knee placement for EMS - Copyright Pain Relief Essentials
Typical electrical muscle stimulation electrode pad placement for knee conditions

What is Electrical Muscle Stimulation?

Electrical Muscle Stimulation is also known as Electromyostimulation and as neuromuscular electrical stimulation.  Electric impulses are generated by a medical device and transmitted to the skin through electrodes.  The electrodes may be gel based, rubber based, or as in the case of the Advanced Foot Energizer foot massager they are a specially formulated Electrode Silicon Area. The impulses generated by the device are designed to mimic signals from your central nervous system – which cause your muscles to contract and relax.

Electrical stimulation as prescribed by a medical practitioner is used for a number of conditions including relaxing muscle spasms, helping to prevent and retard atrophy from disuse of certain muscles, increasing or maintaining your range of motion, increasing local circulation, helping to relieve and manage chronic pain, acute pain post surgery, post-traumatic acute pain, and immediate post-surgical stimulation of your muscles to help prevent venous thrombosis. Different programs in the medical unit will generate different responses and contraction of different muscle fiber types.

As therapeutic tools and for training Electrical Muscle Stimulation is used for rehabilitation.  Muscle stimulation may be used to help prevent muscle atrophy after injuries along with other uses like muscle recovery after a workout.  EMS is different than TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) in that TENS is used to block pain directly.

For muscle recovery after a workout or exercise, electrical stimulation is used to stimulate muscle contractions. This process activates nitric oxide which helps dilate blood vessels in your muscles. It also increases the Venous Pump and Lymphatic Flow – increasing your circulation and bringing oxygen bearing blood to the muscles and pulling toxins away. This decreases the time it takes for your muscles to recover and helps condition the muscles. Using electrical stimulation for muscle recovery is part of an over-all solution for fast muscle recovery from working out, and can play a key component in retaining muscles, strength, and balance as we age.

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The American Physical Therapy Association acknowledges the use of Electrotherapy for:[1] (See Wikipedia article on Electrotherapy)

1. Pain management
Improves range of joint movement
2. Treatment of neuromuscular dysfunction
Improvement of strength
Improvement of motor control
Retards muscle atrophy
Improvement of local blood flow
3. Improves range of joint mobility
Induces repeated stretching of contracted, shortened soft tissues
4. Tissue repair
Enhances microcirculation and protein synthesis to heal wounds
Restores integrity of connective and dermal tissues
5. Acute and chronic edema
Accelerates absorption rate
Affects blood vessel permeability
Increases mobility of proteins, blood cells and lymphatic flow
6. Peripheral blood flow
Induces arterial, venous and lymphatic flow
7. Iontophoresis
Delivery of pharmacological agents
8. Urine and fecal incontinence
Affects pelvic floor musculature to reduce pelvic pain and strengthen musculature
Treatment may lead to complete continence

Electrotherapy is primarily used in physical therapy for relaxation of muscle spasms, prevention and retardation of disuse atrophy, increase of local blood circulation, muscle rehabilitation and re-education electrical muscle stimulation, maintaining and increasing range of motion, management of chronic and intractable pain, post-traumatic acute pain, post surgical acute pain, immediate post-surgical stimulation of muscles to prevent venous thrombosis, wound healing and drug delivery

All medical Electromyostimulation devices in the United States need to be regulated by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration.  Please understand that being cleared by the FDA for sale takes a long period of testing and is a costly procedure.  We highly recommend that our customers purchase FDA cleared EMS and TENS Electromyostimulation devices for their safety.

[1] Alon G et al. Electrotherapeutic Terminology in Physical Therapy; Section on Clinical Electrophysiology. Alexandria, VA: American Physical Therapy Association, 2005

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