What is Electrical Stimulation (E-Stim)?

Electrical stimulation (E-Stim) is a treatment that we provide for our patients here at Physical Therapy of Milwaukee. E-stim can help treat musculoskeletal injuries, aches and pains. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of electrical stimulation.

How does it work? 

We will attach stick-on electrode pads to the area that we are treating. There are wires that connect them to a unit where we can control the electrical current that is going to the electrode pads. Your therapist will be able to control the time, intensity and type of electrical stimulation. The current will start with a low intensity and your therapist will gradually increase the intensity. There are different e-stim types based on what outcome your therapist is trying to achieve. 

What are the main types?

TENS: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation– It is used to temporarily relieve pain in sore and aching muscles. It can also be used for chronic pain as well. Signals are sent through nerve fiber to help reduce the pain signals traveling to the brain.

EMS: Electrical Muscle Stimulation- Uses a stronger current than TENS. The electrodes are typically placed on or near the affected muscles to cause rhythmic contractions. It is intended for strengthening muscles, improving muscular endurance, and accelerating muscle recovery. The patient can contract the muscle simultaneously with the stimulation to improve strength. 

IFC: Interferential Current- It is intended for relief of chronic, acute, post-traumatic or post-surgical pain. It is similar to TENS but it is more powerful and effective.

NMES: Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation– It stimulates the nerves in the muscles to help reduce muscle spasms, prevent atrophy, restore function/strength, increase blood flow, and re-educate the neuromuscular system 

How does it feel?

It will feel like a tingly sensation at the site of the electrode patches. Most people say it feels like “pins and needles”. Depending on the type, you may feel your muscles twitch or contract repeatedly. 

How long does E-Stim last?

Typically, each session should be between 5-15 minutes. This modality may be used with a variety of other physical therapy related treatments.

What are the benefits?

  • Relieve pain and discomfort

  • Reduce muscle spasms

  • Improve joint pain and swelling

  • Prevent atrophy

  • Improve blood flow/circulation

  • Increase range of motion

  • Restore and build strength

What does it treat?

  • Back pain

  • Muscle and joint pain

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Arthritis

  • Nerve inflammation

  • Recovery after surgery

  • Cancer-related pain

Are there any risks?

There is a small risk for some skin irritation at the site of where we place the electrodes. It is not recommended for those who are pregnant, but under direct supervision it can help relieve labor pains in some situations. If people have a pacemaker or other implanted heart device, e-stim is dangerous and is not recommended. 

How can I get electrical stimulation with PTM?

Give us a call, send us a text to 414-281-3444 or leave us a message below to schedule an appointment with our Physical Therapist. During your evaluation, your therapist can let you know if you are a candidate for electrical stimulation treatment sessions.