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How Electrical Stimulation Is Used in Physical Therapy?

If you have an injury, your healthcare provider may order physical therapy to help you on the road to recovery. Along with other forms of treatment, you may receive neuromuscular electrical stimulation as part of your therapy. Keep reading to learn more about electrical stimulation and how it's used in physical therapy.

The idea behind this therapy is that applying an electrical current helps strengthen muscles, block pain signals, and improve blood circulation.

If you are suffering from any type of illness that causes pain or prevents you from easily moving around, your physical therapist may use electrical stimulation, or e-stim, as a part of your rehabilitation program.

A typical application of this therapy goes something like this:

  • Your physical therapist applies electrodes to the part of the body that needs treatment. These electrodes are connected through a wire to an e-stim machine.
  • You will feel a slight tingling sensation.
  • The sensation will be increased until it feels strong but comfortable.
  • If the e-stim is used for muscle spasms or pain relief, you will relax during the treatment.
  • If the electricity is used to improve muscular strength or function, you may be required to squeeze or contract your muscle as the machine is working.

The application of electrical impulses may feel a bit uncomfortable, but it should never hurt. If you feel pain during electrical stimulation, tell your physical therapist. They will adjust the treatment or stop using it.