Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) Therapy in Chicago
Whether your muscles are in tip-top shape or you are experiencing muscle pain, soreness, cramping, or other muscle problems, your chiropractor may suggest electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) therapy for you. This is also called TENS or just TNS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation).
What is electrical muscle stimulation therapy?
Through electrodes placed directly on the skin, electrical muscle stimulation therapy delivers a very low-level electrical shock to the muscles being treated. This mimics the way the central nervous system would signal the muscle to contract. The muscle’s contraction allows muscles that are atrophied to build strength and also causes muscles spasms to decrease over time. EMS also increases local blood circulation, which can also enhance healing.
Does electrical muscle stimulation therapy hurt?
Absolutely not. Your chiropractor has the ability to adjust the strength of the signal being delivered through the electrodes and he or she will make sure you are comfortable. Your chiropractor will always start the machine at a very low setting and gradually increase it to suit your comfort level.
Some women find EMS uncomfortable during menstruation, but your chiropractor can discuss this with you on a case-by-case basis.
Who is a good candidate for EMS?
If you have been injured and it has lead to muscle weakness or atrophy, you may be a good candidate for EMS therapy. Some sports trainers also use EMS on athletes to hasten recovery after workouts.
If you are pregnant, have a pacemaker, or suffer from certain kinds of skin diseases, EMS may not be appropriate for you. Make sure you discuss all of your medical concerns with your chiropractor, as you would with any other medical professional.
Is EMS safe?
Absolutely! Like any other medical device in the United States, electrical muscle stimulation machines are certified by the Food and Drug Association (FDA). However, EMS cannot be performed on certain areas of the body, such as the sinuses and the genitals.
Why is EMS therapy performed in a chiropractor’s office? I thought you just dealt with the spine and vertebrae?
As chiropractors, yes, we focus on the function of the spine and its alignment. However, the muscles that support and surround the spine are critical to the function of the spine. If your back muscles are injured, weak, or spasm frequently, your spine is bearing the weight that your muscles are supposed to support. This can cause serious spinal injuries.
And remember: “the hip bone’s connected to the – leg bone…” and so on. Everything in your body is connected to everything else. So even if you’re experiencing muscle pain in your leg or neck or another area, it can ultimately affect the health of your spine. For instance, an injured hamstring can cause imbalanced walking, which will throw your spine off its natural curvature. We can’t heal your spine until we heal your hamstring – otherwise, any work we do on your spine will be in vain. The problem will return if we don’t treat the underlying cause of your pain.
I’ve heard that EMS can help me lose weight or help me build muscle and create muscle definition. Is that true?
While the electrical shock that an EMS device delivers causes some calorie burn, it is really a negligible amount and it is certainly not enough to cause you to lose weight if you are not doing anything else differently in your health and fitness routine. Similarly, using an EMS device on, for example, your abdomen, will not give you a six-pack.
That being said, some physical therapists, chiropractors, and MDs report that patients who receive regular EMS therapy for sore muscles find that it aids their fitness because their muscles recover from hard workouts faster after an EMS treatment. Similarly, injured patients may find that their fitness level increases as they regularly receive EMS therapy because the EMS therapy is helping to repair their muscles, which is allowing them to take part in more physical movement and exercise.
Fun Fact About Electrical Muscle Stimulation:
Electrical muscle stimulation has been used for thousands of years to treat muscle pain and other ailments. There is evidence that over 2000 years ago, Egyptians used fish that emit electrical impulses – most famously, the electric eel – to give a low-level shock to patients in order to alleviate discomfort.
Want to learn more about electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) therapy?
We'd be happy to tell you more about EMS and our other chiropractic services that can help you be your best, physically and mentally. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.