Friday, 06 April 2018 08:04

What Is Electronic Stimulation?

The idea of a treatment that involves lots of machines and wires is an often an intimidating thought. Electronic stimulation is one of these kinds of therapies that looks much scarier than it actually is. Electronic muscle stimulation is a common treatment used in chiropractic medicine, physical therapy, and other rehabilitation settings for the purposes of pain relief or muscle re-education – but how exactly do all those adhesive pads and wires communicate with your muscles? That's what we're here to tell you.

Electronic Stimulation Defined

There are different types of electrical stimulation that are used to accomplish a variety of goals that ultimately aid in pain relief. Most forms of stimulation use adhesive pads that are strategically placed on and around the area where the pain is generating from. These pads are connected to a machine that transmits electrical pulses.


NMES, or neuromuscular electrical stimulation, is the most common type of electronic stimulation. The electrical current pulses through electrodes that are placed on the skin and causes a single muscle or a group of muscles to contract. Strategic adjustments will change how strong the contraction is. Through this process, blood flow is increased in the specific area to help decrease spasms and support the healing process.


IFC, also referred to as interferential current, is most often used to decrease low back pain. Four electrodes are applied in a crisscross pattern so that the electronic currents interfere. This allows a more intense current to be used without causing discomfort to the patient.


TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation. This modality generates intense electrical pulses deep into the nervous system to block the pain signals that are traveling from the brain to the area of the body in question. While the pulses are intense in the deep layers of muscle that are being stimulated, it is a relatively pain-free process that will create a tingling feeling at the site of the electrodes.


This form of electrical stimulation is designed to aid in the administration of medication. Often the medicine is used to decrease inflammation and is pushed into the body through the electrical current, but there are other types of medicine that can be used in this form.

How Does Electronic Stimulation Work?

As we mentioned earlier, electronic stimulation is used for two primary purposes: pain relief and muscle re-education.

Pain Relief

There are two theories as to the reason behind electrical stimulation for pain relief. The first is called the Gate Control Theory which says that the pain signals that are sent from the brain must pass through a “gate” before pain can be felt in any area of the body. The stimulation sensation must also pass through that “gate” and when it does, it blocks the nerves that would deliver the pain signals. The second theory considers the idea that electronic stimulation causes the brain to release the body's natural painkillers to support pain relief. Research has shown increases in endorphins and enkephalins after the use of electrical stimulation.

Muscle Re-Education

Electrical stimulation is also used for muscle re-education. This is a common occurrence after a stroke, accident, or orthopedic surgery and a patient has to relearn how to contract the muscle. The electrical impulses, when the electrodes are applied correctly, allow the muscle to contract without the patient consciously doing so. This stimulation, along with conscious practices helps the brain re-learn how to contract the muscle on its own.

Electronic Stimulation In Denver

Electronic stimulation can be a highly effective aid in the treatment protocol for pain relief. It is a non-addictive modality, which makes it beneficial in a variety of circumstances because it is a cost-effective means of achieving relief.

If you experience chronic pain or weakness following surgery or injury, electronic stimulation can support your current pain relief efforts to help you get back to feeling your best. Contact our expert at Ideal Health to try electronic stimulation today.