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Electrical Muscle Stimulators (EMS)

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Electrical Muscle Stimulator (EMS)

Electrical Muscle Stimulator devices promote muscle contraction using electrical impulses. The device is very useful, gaining popularity because of the health benefits on offer. Athletes can use it as a strength-training tool. Doctors use it for the rehabilitation of the totally or partially immobilized patients. You can also use EMS for muscle recovery as well as sports training.

The use of electrical muscle stimulators increased when people learned that they could also use it for seeking relief from discomfort caused by different diseases, including cancer and arthritis. It can also help you manage joint pain. Moreover, electrical muscle stimulators are handy, and you can purchase one for yourself to use at home. However, it is better to consult your doctor before using it. 

What Is an Electrical Muscle Stimulator?

Electrical stimulation uses electrical pulses to impersonate the signals coming from cells in the nervous system, called neurons. These electrical currents target nerves or muscles. 

Electrical stimulation therapy for muscle recovery contracts the target signals by sending signals to them. With repeated muscle contractions, your muscle's blood flow starts improving and it repairs injured muscles.

Your muscles also improve their strength through repeated relaxation and contraction. E-stim also trains your muscles to give a response to your body's natural signals of contraction. This is great for stroke survivors who want their muscles to repair and gain strength.

How Does an Electrical Muscle Stimulator Work?

This device uses electrodes that get fitted on the skin. For the treatment of injured muscles several electrodes are used. These pads get fitted with the e-stim device using wires. Then, e-stim sends electrical impulses through the wires to the skin. The device can be so small that you can hold it like your mobile phone.

The pulses that reach the muscle signals them to contract. When they reach the nervous system, they block the transmission of pain signals from reaching the brain and spinal cord. These pulses force your body to discharge powerful endorphins, which are pain-relieving chemicals.  

Benefits of an Electrical Muscle Stimulator

The electrical muscle stimulation improves your muscles functions and strengthens them. This is why it can solve many muscle problems that occur due to diseases. For example, it can give you pain relief from a terminal disease like cancer. The following are some benefits of using electrical muscle stimulation.

  1. Strengthens your muscles
  2. Improves muscle performance
  3. Helps in muscle growth
  4. Boost blood circulation
  5. Relaxes muscles
  6. Reduces soreness 
  7. Prevents muscle atrophy

Uses of an Electrical Muscle Stimulator

Because EMS devices benefit in the treatment and rehabilitation of muscles, people use it for various purposes. Therapists and athletes also use EMS to strengthen muscles. The following are some uses of EMS.

  • Physical therapy
  • Weight loss
  • Rehabilitation
  • Rehab after paralysis
  • Muscle recovery
  • Sports performance
  • Pain relief
  • Reduce swelling

Why Would You Need a Muscle Stimulator Device?

E-stim targets nerves to send pain relief signals. This procedure is effective in the treatment of musculoskeletal and nerve pain caused by many medical conditions on which traditional treatments are not effective.  

However, e-stim is not the only treatment you need. It takes place with other treatments for physical therapy. Moreover, its results depend on your condition. You can get better after its first session. But maybe your therapist recommends you multiple sessions for the expected improvement.

In a study held in 2019, researchers at the Department of Neurosurgery at Albany Medical College found that patients of rheumatoid arthritis recover their muscle functions after 36 NMES sessions over 16 weeks. 

E-stim is one of the best therapy methods because of its long-term effects on the body. Scientists are still researching which condition is best to use it for.

Moreover, e-stim is most useful to heal muscles after surgery or injury. As a pain reliever, e-stim can be used for most of the pain conditions and is effective for all of them.

What is the Difference between a Tens Machine and an EMS Machine?

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) devices tend to relieve the pain of muscles. In contrast, Electrical Muscles Stimulation (EMS) devices have a unique design to provide signals to muscles for rehabilitating and strengthening muscles.  

EMS vs. TENS Machines: Which One Should You Choose?

If you want a device to relieve the pain of your muscles, you should use a Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation (TENS) machine. 

However, if you are looking for a device for rehabilitation from muscle pain or to strengthen muscle for the training program, then choose the Electrical Muscles Stimulation (EMS) device.

Risks of Electrical Muscle Stimulation

Muscle Tears

If you set the electrical stimulation impulse on a very high intensity, then it can cause intense muscle pain. If you suffer from too much pain, it can cause tearing of your muscle tissues. 

If this happens, stop the e-stim immediately and initiate the treatment for an acute muscular injury. Treatment can include rest, elevation, and ice. 

Skin Irritation 

Some devices of EMC cause irritation to the skin, especially underneath the electrode. Iontophoresis uses direct current for the procedure. This is the reason you may feel irritation on your skin.  

Moreover, some people have sensitive skin that gets irritated by the electrical stimulation or by the 'electrode's adhesive. If someone faces extreme irritation, then they should stop the process and apply lotion to the irritated skin.  

Tissue Burn

Tissue burns can occur when you use electrical stimulation at a high frequency. This problem is rare, but it can happen, and the procedure should be stopped and to follow the appropriate treatment according to the tissue burn.

We always recommend seeing a Physical Therapist before using an EMS to know what's the best treatment for you.

Takeaway advice on buying and using an EMS Device

EMS is best for the recovery of muscle pain compared to other therapies because it has a long-lasting effect, and most often gives early results. Another advantage of EMS is that it can provide you relief from all types of muscle pain, regardless of whether it occurs because of a chronic disease or due to a small injury. 

The EMS device has few drawbacks, and most of the people don't suffer from any of the above mentioned EMS risks. So, if you think you need EMS therapy treatment, then consult any therapist or doctor to find out how it can benefit you.