An electrical stimulation or e-stim device is a portable device used for pain relief, muscle relaxation, and even physical therapy. It uses low-voltage electrical currents to stimulate the nerves and muscles. This causes the nervous system to activate the natural healing and pain-relieving mechanisms of the body. Operating the device is simple. It involves placing the electrode pads on the skin of the affected area and adjusting the frequency and intensity to provide therapeutic effects.
Electrotherapy is becoming increasingly popular as people seek alternative treatments for their chronic pain or other health issues. It is a drug-free method, making it suitable for people who want to reduce their intake of medicines. In addition, stimulator devices are available for personal or home use. Individuals can use them readily or on a per-need basis. In this article, we will explore what electronic stimulators are, how they work and how to use them.
What is an E-Stim Device
E-stim devices are typically small, handheld units that run on battery power. They have two or more electrode pads attached by wires to the device. The pads can be placed on the skin at various points in the body. They will then deliver electrical impulses through the skin in order to reach the targeted area.
These devices are often used in pain management and physical therapy programs. Larger and more complex machines are used in clinical settings. However, portable versions are available to use at home. This makes them convenient for those who want to manage their pain without going to pain clinics. They have adjustable settings, allowing users to control the strength and duration of the electric current.
Moreover, the device may come with traditional wires or more innovative wireless units. Wireless devices incorporate Bluetooth technology to connect to a mobile app. Therefore, users can control the settings from a smartphone or tablet conveniently. The customisation feature can provide tailored relief or relaxation.
- TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation): uses low-frequency and wide-intensity settings to stimulate the nerves for pain alleviation.
- EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation): use stronger currents to contract and relax the muscles. EMS helps in muscle strengthening, toning, and re-education.
- IFT (Interferential Stimulation): uses a higher frequency than TENS to deliver therapeutic effects to deeper tissues.
- NMES (Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation): stimulates the muscles to relieve pain and improve strength and function. It is used in rehabilitation settings to restore joint mobility and flexibility.
- SCS (Spinal Cord Stimulation): implanted devices to deliver electrical currents to the spinal cord, helping to alleviate chronic pain.
How an E-Stim Device Works
An e-stim device works by sending electrical impulses through the skin. The pulses stimulate the nerve or muscle fibres in the targeted area. For nerve stimulators, the currents induce the nervous system to override pain signals. It achieves therapeutic effects through sensory and motor-level stimulations.
Sensory-level uses high-frequency (50 Hz and above) to activate the gating mechanisms in the spinal cord, blocking the pain signals from reaching the brain. On the other hand, motor-level stimulation uses low frequency (10 Hz and below) to trigger the production of endorphins. Endorphins help inhibit the neurons from sending pain messages to the brain. This results in the reduction of pain.
Furthermore, muscle stimulators use higher currents to induce muscle contractions. The contractions help to build strength and endurance. In addition, it relaxes the muscles after contractions, improving flexibility and range of motion. It is important to know the differences in each type so individuals can use the right kind of stimulation for their condition or needs.
The primary benefits of electric stimulation machines are to relieve pain and improve muscle functions. They are also non-invasive and drug-free, reducing the need for surgery or medications. In particular, TENS and IFT stimulate the nerves to treat acute and chronic pain conditions like arthritis, sciatica, fibromyalgia, and tendonitis. It can also help with period cramps and labour pain.
Meanwhile, EMS and NMES stimulate the key muscle groups. The muscle contractions help improve strength and prevent muscle atrophy. It is also beneficial for individuals who are unable to do physical exercises due to injuries. Overall, it helps reduce inflammation and aid in healing and recovery.
How To Use an E-Stim Device
Using an e-stim device is simple. However, it is vital to follow the instruction manual or professional advice thoroughly. Generally, the operation of the machine involves identifying the precise treatment area. Before use, ensure that the skin is clean and dry. To begin, position the electrodes on either side of the pain or over the targeted muscles.
To begin, turn on the device and adjust the settings. Start with the lowest current setting and gradually increase the intensity to a comfortable level. Users may also choose the pre-set modes for convenient use. These are programs with predetermined frequency and pulse duration designed for specific pain types.
The treatment time typically lasts for 15 to 30 minutes. Individuals with chronic pain may use the device longer but no more than one hour at a time. Lastly, turn off the machine and remove the pads after use. People may continue the therapy after a 20-minute break before starting a new session. It is advisable to experiment with different settings to find optimal results.
Stimulator machines are electric devices that require precaution when in use. Firstly, consult a health professional, especially for people with serious medical conditions. People with heart conditions, epilepsy, and pregnant women should get professional advice before starting therapy. Secondly, follow the recommended settings. Avoid turning the intensity level too high to prevent discomfort.
Thirdly, do not exceed the recommended treatment times. Using the device for longer than one hour per session may cause skin damage. Additionally, do not place the pads on broken skin, open wounds, or irritated skin. Lastly, do not use the device near water, as this may risk electrocution.
E-stim devices are non-invasive and drug-free solutions to pain management and physical therapy. They use electrical pulses to stimulate the nerves or muscles to reduce pain or improve physical functioning. There are many types of devices, and each serves specific purposes. For example, TENS, IFT, and SCS are beneficial for acute and chronic pain by blocking pain signals and releasing endorphins. On the other hand, EMS and NMES help improve muscle conditions and restore the range of motion.
It is essential to understand how each machine works and operate them correctly. Following the instruction manual or professional advice can help achieve safe and effective treatment. In addition, following the safety precautions help avoid risks. For best results, consult a healthcare provider before starting a therapy or using these devices. With proper use, individuals can benefit from the therapeutic effects of electrotherapy.