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AU Registered Medical Device
12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

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Electric Stimulation Machine: What It Is, the Types, and How It Works

iTENS large wing kit with written features

An electric stimulation machine is a tool that can treat pain and promote healing in the body. There are different types of electrical stimulation machines, including TENS, NMES, PENS, SCS, IFC, and FES. These machines work by blocking pain signals, which helps alleviate pain. They also trigger the body to release more endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving chemicals. Additionally, electrical stimulation devices boost blood circulation, which can help with the healing process.

Living with acute pain or chronic pain can have a significant impact on daily life. This affects overall well-being. Traditional treatments like pain medication and physical therapy may not always provide the desired results. Fortunately, there is a promising pain management alternative: the electrical stimulation machines. It is advisable to consult a professional for safe and effective use. This article will provide information about an electrical stimulation machine, including its types and mechanism of action.

What is an Electric Stimulation Machine?

An electric stimulation machine is a tool that produces electrical pulses through electrodes. These impulses can mimic the natural action potential of the muscles and nerves, causing them to contract and relax. People can adjust the intensity and frequency of the electrical impulses to achieve different therapeutic effects.

The applications of this machine are wide-ranging. People can use it in physical therapy to help reduce muscle spasms, increase blood flow, and promote muscle re-education after injury. Athletes may also utilise it to enhance muscle strength and improve performance. Additionally, an electric nerve stimulator assists in pain management through the application of controlled electric currents.

In certain situations, healthcare professionals use the machine as an additional therapy alongside other treatments. They combine it with manual therapy or exercise to boost the effectiveness of the overall treatment. Moreover, the machine proves beneficial in enhancing muscle function for individuals facing neurological conditions like stroke or spinal cord injury. Overall, practitioners employ electric nerve stimulators to aid healing, alleviate pain, and enhance muscle function across various clinical scenarios.

Benefits

  • Electrical stimulation machine helps alleviate various chronic and acute pain in adults. These include labour pain, postoperative pain, musculoskeletal pain, neuropathic pain, phantom pain, and among others.
  • Most machines offer a non-surgical and drug-free option for managing pain, reducing the need for invasive procedures.
  • The machine can enhance blood flow, promoting better circulation throughout the body.
  • Users can adjust the intensity and frequency of the electrical current to suit their comfort level and individual needs.
  • Most devices are often compact and portable, allowing individuals to use them in various settings for on-the-go relief.
  • Electrical stimulation machines can decrease dependence on pain medications.

A woman using iTENS on her arm and lower back

Types of Electric Stimulation Machines

There are various types of electric stimulation machines, each intended to target specific therapeutic objectives. Firstly, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) uses low-voltage electrical currents to stimulate the nerves. These electrical signals contribute to the modulation of pain perception. Secondly, Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES). This type of stimulation is common for muscle recovery and prevents muscle atrophy.

Thirdly, Percutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (PENS). This involves the insertion of needles similar to acupuncture, through which stimulation flows directly into the body tissues. Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) is another type of ENS. It delivers electrical pulses to the spinal cord through electrodes to interrupt the transmission of pain messages to the brain.

Furthermore, Interferential Current (IFC) utilises two intersecting medium-frequency electrical currents that deeply penetrate tissues. Lastly, Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) delivers electrical impulses to targeted muscles or muscle groups. It aims to enhance muscle function and enable functional movements. Overall, the choice of an electrical stimulation machine depends on the specific therapeutic goals and needs of the individual.

A Closer Look at TENS

TENS is a portable device that can provide pain relief. It consists of a control unit and sets of electrodes. The adhesive electrode pads send electrical currents to stimulate the nearby nerves to reduce pain. Moreover, there are two types of TENS devices that individuals can use: standard and wireless.

A standard TENS machine has a handheld push-button remote and wires connecting to the electrode pads. On the other hand, a wireless TENS machine utilises Bluetooth technology to connect to a smartphone app. It is popular among individuals who prefer convenient and on-the-go pain management. Nevertheless, both types deliver adequate electrical stimulation.

A step-by-step guide on how to operate the iTENS app

How Electric Stimulation Machine Works

An electric stimulation machine produces low-level electric currents to the nerves through the skin. Consequently, the gates or channels in the spinal cord that allow pain signals to pass through become flooded with electrical pulses. Thus, users experience less pain as the electrical signals block the transmission of pain signals to the brain.

Moreover, the machine stimulates the production of endorphins. These are natural pain-relieving chemicals the body produces. When people apply the electrodes, it triggers the release. It then binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. This binding action helps to reduce pain sensations and promote a sense of well-being.

In addition, electrical stimulation devices can improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and support the healing of damaged tissues. The electrical stimulation can increase blood flow to the affected area. As a result, it can speed up the healing process. Some people also use the machine to help with muscle rehabilitation and re-education by promoting muscle contractions.

Frequencies and Intensities

Frequency refers to the number of pulses or cycles of electrical current per second. The typical frequencies range from 1 to 150 Hz. Lower frequencies, such as 1-5 Hz, are suitable for chronic pain. Meanwhile, higher frequencies, such as 80-150 Hz, are for acute pain.

Intensity is the strength or power of the electrical currents, measured in milliamps (mA). It influences how deeply the electrical signals penetrate the body. Generally, electrotherapy starts with a low intensity and gradually increases to a comfortable level. Finding the right intensity is essential for maximising the benefits of the therapy.

Conclusion

In conclusion, an electric stimulation machine is a versatile tool offering various therapeutic benefits. It produces electrical pulses to stimulate muscles and nerves, aiding in pain management, muscle recovery, and rehabilitation. Types like TENS, NMES, PENS, SCS, IFC, and FES cater to specific objectives, allowing personalised treatment. Whether used in physical therapy, sports performance, or neurological conditions, these machines play a vital role in enhancing healing and improving overall muscle function.

Electrical stimulation machines alleviate pain by blocking pain signals in the spinal cord. They also trigger the release of endorphins that bind to opioid receptors, reducing pain and promoting well-being. Moreover, these devices enhance circulation, reduce inflammation, and aid tissue healing. Frequency (1-5 Hz for chronic, 80-150 Hz for acute pain) and intensity (measured in mA) customisation optimises therapy. Overall, electrical stimulation machines offer a versatile and effective approach to pain management and physical rehabilitation.

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