Electrical Stimulation

If you suffer an injury or illness that results in pain and loss of functional mobility, you may benefit from electrical stimulation.

Electrical stimulation is a type of therapeutic treatment that can serve many different purposes. It can be used to decrease pain and inflammation, improve circulation, and it can help your muscles contract properly.

This list of different types of electrical stimulation can help you understand how it is commonly used in physical therapy.

The different types produce different frequencies, wave forms, and effects. Be sure to ask your physical therapist about your specific needs and gains that are expected when you use electrical stimulation in the physical therapy clinic.

  1. Transcutaenus electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
    TENS is a type of electrical stimulation used to help decrease acute and chronic pain. It works by altering or interrupting the painful signals that travel from injured tissues to our brain.
  2. Russian Stimulation
    Russian stimulation is a form of electrical stimulation that uses electricity to contract muscle tissue. After injury or surgery, you may be experiencing muscle weakness. Often, muscles are inhibited after an injury and are unable to generate a forceful contraction. Russian stimulation is used to help improve the contraction of your muscles.
  3. Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES)
    NMES is used much like Russian stimulation. Your physical therapist may use NMES to help your muscles contract properly after injury or surgery. This form of muscular re-eductation can be useful in helping you return to normal function quickly after an injury or surgery.
  4. Interferential Current (IFC)
    IFC electrical stimulation is a type of electrical stimulation that your physical therapist may use to help decrease your pain and improve circulation to injured tissues. IFC works much like TENS, but the current can be easily moved and varied to target your most painful area of injury.
  5. High Voltage Stimulation
    High voltage electrical stimulation is a type of electrical stimulation that your physical therapist may use to help decrease your pain or improve circulation. It is also occasionally used to help with wound healing. Electrical stimulation has been used to decrease both acute and chronic pain. How electrical stimulation works is not precisely understood, though it is thought to block the transmission of pain signals along nerves. Electrical stimulation is also thought to provoke the release of endorphins — the body’s natural painkillers.

How Is Electrical Stimulation Done?

Commonly used electrical stimulation devices apply electrical stimulation to nerves and muscles via adhesive pads placed on the skin.


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