How is electrostimulation used in physiotherapy?


If you are injured, your healthcare provider may prescribe physical therapy to help you on the road to recovery. Along with other forms of treatment, you can receive electrical stimulation as part of therapy. Read on to learn more about electrical stimulation (e-stim) and how it is used in physical therapy .

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What is electrical stimulation?

Electrical stimulation is a type of physical therapy or treatment used to perform a variety of physical therapy (PT) tasks. The idea is that giving an electric current helps strengthen muscles, blocks pain signals, and improves blood circulation.

If you have an injury or medical condition that causes pain or prevents you from walking easily, your physical therapist may use electrical stimulation or electronic stimulation as part of your rehabilitation program.

Why is E-Stim used?

Electrical stimulation is used in physical therapy for many reasons. It can be used to:

  • Provide medications for inflammation.
  • Improve weak or dysfunctional muscles
  • Helps relieve pain or cramps.

If you experience muscle pain, cramps, swelling , or weakness, your physical therapist may use this medication to help you.

Some of the conditions that an electronic stimulator can treat include:

Electronic stimulation is also used to treat difficult wounds . A physical therapist who is a specialist in wound care will be the professional who will provide this treatment.

E-Stim discussion

The big question in physical therapy these days is whether to use electrical stimulation. Electrical stimulation is a relatively passive form of treatment. During treatment, you do nothing (or very little).

The most successful rehabilitation programs involve the active participation of the patient. It is extremely important to learn the correct movements and exercises for your particular condition.

Some professionals debate whether e-stim is valuable in physical therapy. Some studies show that electrical stimulation does little to help injured people. Other research suggests that certain types of stimulation may be beneficial.

Despite the ongoing debate about whether e-stim really helps, you may find it if you go to physical therapy. Therefore, knowing what it is and what to expect can be helpful.

What to Expect During the E-Stim

If your physical therapist decides to use electrical stimulation during rehabilitation, he or she should explain the procedure to you. Your physical therapist should also discuss the expected risks and benefits. A typical use of an electronic stimulator looks like this:

  1. Your physical therapist places electrodes on the part of your body that needs treatment. These electrodes are connected by a wire to an electronic stimulation machine.
  2. You will feel a slight tingling sensation.
  3. The sensation will increase until it becomes strong but comfortable.
  4. If an electronic stimulus is used to relieve muscle spasms or relieve pain, you will relax during the procedure.
  5. If electricity is used to improve muscle strength or function, you may need to contract or contract your muscles while using the machine.

Using electrical impulses can be uncomfortable, but it should never be harmful. If you feel pain during electrical stimulation, tell your physical therapist. They will adjust the treatment or stop using it.

Types of electrical stimulation

Your physical therapist will use different types of electrical stimulation to perform different tasks. Discover some of the types available.

Transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation (TENS)

Transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation (TENS) is a physical therapy treatment used to relieve short-term and long-term pain during physical therapy. Your physical therapist will use TENS to relieve your pain by placing electrodes on your body over painful areas. The intensity of the electricity will be adjusted to block pain signals from your body to your brain.


Iontophoresis is a type of electrical stimulation used to give you medicine during physical therapy. The electrical current pushes various medications through the skin and into the body.

Your physical therapist will most likely use medications to reduce inflammation or muscle spasms. Iontophoresis medications can also be used to break down calcium deposits that can occur in conditions such as calcific tendonitis of the shoulder . Different drugs are used to achieve different goals through iontophoresis.

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES)

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) uses an electrical current to cause an individual muscle or a group of muscles to contract. By placing electrodes on the skin in different places, the physiotherapist can activate the corresponding muscle fibers.

Muscle contraction with electrical stimulation helps improve the contraction of the affected muscle. The physical therapist can change the current setting to provide a mild or sharp muscle contraction.

In addition to improving muscle function, muscle contraction also promotes blood flow to this area. Helps heal the wound. NMES can also be used to reduce muscle spasms by fatigued the muscle in the spasm. This allows you to relax.

Russian stimulation

Russian stimulation is a form of electrical stimulation that can perform the same task as NMES. This improves the contraction of your muscles. Russian Steam just uses a different waveform, which may be a bit more comfortable for you.

Interference current (IFC)

Physiotherapists often use Interference Current (IFC) to relieve pain, relieve muscle spasms, or improve blood flow to various muscles or tissues. It is often used for low back pain.

To create an interfering current, four electrodes are usually used that cross each other. This causes the currents flowing between the electrodes to "interfere" with each other, and allows your physical therapist to use a higher current intensity while maintaining maximum comfort for you.

High Voltage Galvanic Current (HVGC)

High-voltage galvanic stimulation (HVGC) uses high-voltage, low-frequency electricity to penetrate deep into tissues. It is used to relieve pain, improve blood flow, relieve muscle spasms, and improve joint mobility .


Keep in mind that many forms of electrical stimulation are passive treatments. You do nothing while stimulated. Some forms of electronic stimulation, such as NMES and Russian stimulus, require you to be active while in use.

Active participation in a physical therapy program with or without electrical stimulation produces the best results. E-stim should only be used in addition to your active physical therapy program, which includes specific movements and exercises to treat your condition.

Electrical stimulation should never be the only treatment you receive during physical therapy.


If your physical therapist wants to use electrical stimulation during your rehabilitation treatment, he or she should explain the various benefits and risks associated with the treatment.

The risks of electronic incentives can include:

  • Muscle tear
  • Skin irritation
  • Tissue burn

If you experience a muscle tear

If the electrical impulse is too strong, you may experience severe muscle pain. In this case, a breakdown of muscle tissue can occur. In this case, the electronic stimulus must stop immediately.

Then the doctor should begin treatment for the acute muscle injury. This may include rest, ice, and lifting of the injured body part.

If skin irritation occurs

Some forms of electrical stimulation can irritate the skin below the electrode. Iontophoresis uses a constant current during application. It is known to irritate the skin.

Sometimes people with sensitive skin can be irritated by the electrode adhesive or electrical stimulation. If irritation develops, the procedure should be discontinued. A soothing lotion can then be applied to the affected area.

If tissue is burned

Applying too much electrical stimulation can cause tissue burns. This happens rarely. But if the tissue is burned, the physical therapist must stop the procedure immediately. Proper skin care must be provided to treat a burn.

Your physical therapist can ensure that electrical stimulation is used appropriately to minimize the risks associated with the use of electronic stimulation. Understanding these risks can help you decide whether to include it in your rehabilitation.

Reasons why you shouldn't use E-Stim

There are some conditions in which electrical stimulation cannot be used. Your physical therapist should pay attention to these factors that lead to avoiding electronic stimuli.

You should avoid electrical stimulation if you have:

  • Change in the feel of the tissues
  • Impaired mental state
  • Having an implanted electrical device (electronic stimulation can interfere with the functioning of implanted pacemakers or pain relievers)
  • Malignant tissue
  • Wounds too wet
  • Injured area near the eyes, carotid artery, front of the neck, or above the reproductive organs.

Your physical therapist should have identified these problems during your initial examination. But it is important to remind them of any medical conditions that may adversely affect electronic stimulation.

Alternatives to electrostimulation

If you do not have the ability to use electronic stimulation for treatment, or do not wish to use it, your physical therapist can suggest alternatives. And if you have pain or limited mobility, see a physical therapist. They will help you understand if electrostimulation is right for you and your specific condition.


Electrical stimulation is a form of physical therapy used to help injured people. It is also used for people suffering from muscle pain, cramps, or weakness. A physical therapist can use various forms of electrical stimulation.

During the procedure, a physical therapist places electrodes on the part of the body that requires treatment. You will feel a tingling sensation during therapy. Treatment should not be painful. If you experience pain during a session, notify your physical therapist immediately to adjust or discontinue treatment.

Get the word of drug information

If you have a condition that causes pain or limited functional mobility, you should see your doctor and see a physical therapist. You can use electronic stimuli to supplement your rehabilitation program. If so, knowing what an electrical stimulus is and how it is used can help you fully understand your entire rehab program.

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