Electrical Stimulation or “e-stim” is known in physical therapy as a feel-good machine. Patients often report feeling better after it, but what is it really? E-stim is an electric modality that uses the flow of charged particles to help patients. Here are some reasons why e-stim might be used in the clinic:
- Pain control
- Decrease muscle spasm
- Improve range of motion
- Increase circulation
- Decrease swelling
- Facilitate bone repair
- Facilitate wound healing
- Muscle strengthening
Can Anyone Use Electric Stimulation?
While there are many benefits of e-stim, there are also times it should not be used or used with caution. Electrical stimulation should NEVER be used if the following are present:
- It should never be used anywhere in the body for the patients with a pacemaker or ay other electronic devices, such as insulin pumps, unstable arrhythmias, suspected epilepsy, or seizure disorder.
- It should not be used over or in the area of the carotid sinus, thrombosis or thrombophlebitis, eyes, thoracic region, phrenic nerve, urinary bladder stimulators, and abdomen or low back during pregnancy.
- Over the brain or over the torso
- In the presence of active bleeding or infection
- Superficial metal implants
- Pharyngeal or laryngeal muscles
Following are some precautions when using ES:
- Cardiac disease
- Impaired mentation
- Areas of impaired sensation, malignant tumors, skin irritations, or open wounds
- Patients with hypotension, hypertension, excessive adipose tissue or edema.
- It should not be utilized while playing sports, driving, operating heavy machinery.
How is Electrical Stimulation Applied?
If you have ever had ES, you will know that in order to apply it, we need to have at least 2 electrodes (leads). The leads vary in size but generally, smaller electrodes are used for smaller treatment area and bigger electrodes for bigger treatment areas. Size of the lead determines the amount of current being distributed.
When placing the electrodes, the space between the two should be at least the diameter of it. The greater the space between them, the lesser the current density.
How Can I Use E-Stim?
E-stim can be given at physical therapy or can be administered at home. Above is an image of a TENS e-stim made for home use to help with pain relief. However, it is important to consult with your doctor and read the instruction manual before using any type of electrical stimulation at home.
If you’re interested in learning more about e-stim or if e-stim can work for you, reach out to us! Direct Access in NJ allows you to get in for an evaluation without you having to see your Doctor, probably quicker than you could even get that appointment, while also saving you both time and money!
Please call us or reach out on IG to schedule you evaluation at one of BeneFIT’s locations in Bridgewater (908.203.5200) or Chester (908.879.5700) with one of our highly-trained Doctors of Physical Therapy!