Electrical stimulation (E-stim) is a commonly used modality in human physical therapy practice as well as being utilized in the veterinary world. The main two types utilized in veterinary medicine are neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). When this modality is chosen the doctor with determine which type will give us the best outcome. Small adhesive pads (electrodes) are placed on the skin and an electrical current is passed through the tissue between the pads to stimulate nerves.
NMES is important for muscle re-education, prevention and slowing of muscle atrophy, and to enhance joint movement. It targets specific muscle groups to create a muscle contraction by depolarizing motor nerves causing a contraction. NMES is most commonly chosen for patients immediately following musculoskeletal or neurologic injury or surgery to encourage muscle use and discourage atrophy. It is also beneficial to prevent contracture of joints by contracting muscles that cause joint flexion and extension.
TENS is important for pain control as an alternative therapy. It works by depolarizing sensory nerves to alter pain and creates a tingling sensation in the skin. It also stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones.
OVERALL BENEFITS OF E-STIM:
- Swelling/edema reduction.
- Pain control.
- Muscle re-education, strengthening, conditioning.
- Reducing muscle disuse atrophy.
- Reducing joint contracture/tightening.
- Selective strengthening of a muscle group.
- Reducing muscle spasm.