Electric stimulation rehabilitation or electrotherapy had been discovered way back in 400 BC with the help of a torpedo fish that produces an electric shock reaching up to 150 volts. People used to take these fish from streams and they place them on the body’s painful area and the electricity produced from the fish controlled the pain.
It was when the gate control theory of pain in 1965 that reintroduced electric stimulation rehabilitation after it had lost the interest of many skeptics in the nineteenth century. The theory suggests that when the large nerve fibers activity increases, it tends to close the gate blocking information or signals of pain to the brain.
Electric stimulation rehabilitation is a form of therapy that introduces electricity to stimulate the muscles and treat the pain & spasms. This type of therapy can be administered to the patient by a professional or you can purchase a home kit and use it at home.
There are three types of the electrical stimulation rehabilitation and they are the general electric therapy, muscular electric therapy and the transcutanous electrical nerve stimulation otherwise known as TENS. The general electric therapy relieves the pain and also heals wounds while the muscular electrical therapy helps in strengthening the muscles by reducing the spasms, while the TENS is used for treating chronic types of pain.
Electric stimulation rehabilitation has several applications. It is used to manage pain either acute or chronic. TENS is most successful in the control of the postoperative incision pain especially if it’s on a small area and self limiting with regards to time, severity and course.
IFC or interference current is another form of the electric stimulation rehabilitation treatment used for pain control. Some clinicians believe that this is more effective in treating muscle pain compared to TENS.
Electrotherapy is also applied to reduce edema of various types. Edema can be a result of trauma that disrupts the blood vessels and the electrical stimulation with voluntary muscle pump activity is effective. Other than this approach, sensory level stimulation is also used but this does not contract the muscles.
Electric stimulation also improves circulation through the neuromuscular electrical stimulation or NMES. It is most effective at a frequency of just 20 to 30 pps with a 10 to 30% contraction at a maximum of 30 minutes of treatment at a time.
Electric stimulation is also applied for a speedier wound healing.
This type of treatment has contraindications. It should not be placed peripherally to the heart or when the patient has a pacemaker. It shouldn’t be placed near the phrenic nerve and must not be used in the presence of malignancy.
If a recently sutured tendon or nerve is present, a superficial metallic implant, pregnancy during the first trimester and active bleeding are experienced by the patient then this type of treatment must also be avoided.
There are several electric stimulators available such as the Z-Stim IF 150 and the H-Wave electric stimulator. The Z-Stim IF 150 produces TRUE interferential therapy by its two channels with 4 pad output. It is used to stimulate the nerves and muscles for edema, acute pain and for rehabilitation of muscles. The H-Wave is an ultra low frequency electric stimulator that helps in pain control and functional restoration. It has a 3-channel and 2-channel models. The 3-channel model is used in clinics while the 2-channel is a home therapy model. Both of these models are available for rehabilitation of our patients.
Question: Have you ever experienced electrical stimulation therapy while rehabilitating your injury?