Electrotherapy encompasses a variety of products that use electrical stimulation for treatment of injuries and pain. Ranging from deep brain stimulators for neurological disease to EMS Muscle Stimulators and TENS Units, electrotherapy treatment is widely used by doctors, therapists, athletes, trainers, and coaches. Originally developed in 1855 by Guillaume Duchenne, who discovered that alternating current was much more effective than direct current for triggering therapeutic muscle contractions, electrotherapy has been widely researched by scientists around the world to fully explore the benefits of its use.
What is electrotherapy? Electrotherapy is the application of an electrical current to the body for medical purposes, such as recovery from injuries and pain management. Electrical Muscle Stimulation, or EMS, uses electrical impulse to cause muscles to contract. This type of electrotherapy is widely used to prevent muscle atrophy that can occur when a muscle has not been used for an extended period of time. Therapists and trainers also use electrical muscle stimulation to increase or maintain range of motion, relax muscles spasms, and for muscle re-education. Electrical muscle stimulation is also used for post-surgical stimulation of calf muscles to prevent venous thrombosis. Because the impulses that cause muscles to contract are used to build muscle, some devices such as the Slendertone Flex Ab Belt are available to target specific muscles in the abdomen to further tone and define them.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or TENS, is a type of electrotherapy that uses electrical current applied to the skin for pain control. TENS electrotherapy is a non-invasive form of nerve stimulation designed to reduce both acute and chronic pain. Scientific studies show that both high and low frequency TENS therapy stimulate different types of nerves in the body, and essentially block the pain. TENS electrotherapy is used to alleviate pain due to nerve damage as well as knee pain, back pain, and bladder stone removal.
Electrotherapy treatment was originally used in doctor's offices only when it was first applied for medical purposes, but due to high demand for EMS and TENS treatment, a variety of the machines are available for home use. TENS units and EMS Muscle Stimulators are available in a wide variety of styles with pre-defined treatment programs to guide the user. Before starting any electrotherapy treatment regimen, it is best to check with a doctor to determine if what type of electrotherapy is ideal for the specific problem, if any side effects may eliminate the possibility of using electrotherapy, and how to use it. Specific placement of the TENS and EMS electrodes is key for them to be effective and to not cause any harm.