With the increase in medical studies, scientists have found various ways to improve the health of individuals or decrease the illness of individuals with the use of technology. EMS, or electro muscular stimulation is one such invention that has many potential medical related benefits.
EMS has been found to be helpful in many different medical situations. Physical therapists use it often for their patients, as do doctors helping patients with pain management. Electro muscular stimulation is used for many who are rehabilitating post-surgery. It could very well be that EMS can help you with your medical condition.
How Does EMS Work?
The apparatus used, whether it is pads or whole-body suits, sends pulses of electricity into the affected area. This causes the muscles to contract and the nerves to react. For muscles or nerves that have been dormant for quite some time, this can be the perfect way to gently wake them back up so that they can function properly once more.
This therapy can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes and the strength of the signal differs depending on your specific symptoms. It may take a bit of trial and error to get the numbers right but regular use is the most beneficial.
7 Potential Medical Benefits of EMS
How have physical therapists and doctors found EMS to be useful for their patients?
Combat muscle atrophy
Muscle atrophy, or the wasting away of muscles, is common in people who have undergone a serious injury and they could not use the muscles surrounding the injury.
With a lack of use, muscle tissue begins to deteriorate.
EMS helps to cause tiny contractions in these muscles without the need of movement on the patients’ part. This is helpful if the area is still very painful to move. The muscle atrophy of these patients can be stinted through regular EMS training. These muscle contractions can even cause increased blood flow to the area and help speed up the recovery process.
It has been proven that using EMS on patients with the inability to use muscles due to injury is a valuable tool to reduce sarcopenia.
It’s important to note that EMS training cannot replace conventional strength training. It should only be the sole strengthening factor on people who cannot exercise due to medical conditions.
Pain relief or management
EMS has been found helpful in the relief of certain types of chronic and minor pain. Examples of the types of pain EMS is helpful for include pain after surgery, lower back pain, pain with cancer.
A study was done on the effects of stimulation on the peripheral nerve to help with pain management. It proved to be an effective way to help relieve pain.
EMS shows to help reduce the swelling and stimulate blood flow to help the area heal. It also shows to release the nerves and relax the muscles that may be causing some of the pain. All of these factors work together to help relieve all sorts of pain-causing symptoms.
Help relieve inflammation and strengthen joints
Many people suffer from joint pain and inflammation. EMS has been an effective remedy to help strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints and relieve some of the inflammation around the joints causing the pain.
According to one arthritis doctor, for those who found relief from EMS, it cut their pain in half. This can greatly reduce the need for pain killers, saving your kidneys some damage.
Conditions that are benefited by EMS include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, and achy knees or joints.
EMS training can be used in the early stages of recovery for those who have undergone a serious injury to keep the muscles in a somewhat ready stage. This helps to cut down the recovery time to complete muscle use because it allows the muscles to maintain some semblance of use and movement. This way, when it is time to do more strenuous use of the muscles, there is more strength to rely on from the muscles to support the body.
This type of training also helps stroke patients to regain their motor skills. One study showed a significant improvement in stroke victims when undergoing EMS training. This study showed improvement in functional motor skills, joint range of motion, motor reaction times, and overall muscle tone.
Increased blood flow and circulation
It has already been mentioned that EMS can help bring blood flow to the affected area, improving healing time. This increased circulation can have other possible benefits.
An increase in blood flow throughout your body helps to improve the strength of your internal organs, it promotes cell growth, and your immune system improves.
Your body can fight off bacteria more readily, deliver oxygen to your extremities, increase your energy levels, keeps your mind sharp.
Prevent pressure sores
Pressure sores are common in people that are bedridden or in a wheelchair. The pressure of the body being in one position with the weight putting constant pressure on certain points can cause pain in these areas. EMS applied to these muscles can help them to maintain their natural shape and avoid these pressure sores.
The most common type of EMS for pressure sores is for the gluteus maximus of patients who use a wheelchair. Sitting on their bottom all day can cause deformities but by stimulating this muscle with electric pulses, it can combat this causing pressure sores on the hip bones by providing a cushion between the chair and bone.
Treat muscle spasms
EMS on muscles that have been bothering you due to muscle spasms can help to alleviate this pain. The electric pulses will cause the muscles to contract and tire the muscle out so that it does not feel the need to spasm but instead wants to relax.
How to use EMS for Physical Therapy
Most professionals will prescribe physical training with an apparatus for 20-minute periods, three times per week. The strength of electric current released into the body should be increased in increments to prevent any overload on the muscle, but it needs to be fairly high in order to stimulate enough muscle and nerve metabolism.
Although there are some at-home EMS devices, the administration of this type of therapy should really be done by a professional. In order to ensure that the stimulation is done in the right area of the body, no mistakes are made, and the current remains strong enough to be effective, most people need the help of a trained electro stimulation therapist.
It’s important to note that EMS shouldn’t be your only form of treatment. Active recovery and treatment are always the best and most effective way to heal if you are able to participate. There are some people who cannot use EMS because it is dangerous to their conditions.
The thing to remember is that these are potential medical benefits. Ongoing research is needed to provide a direct link between EMS and medical benefits. You should always consult your physician before beginning an exercise routine or modifying your personal health protocols.
If you have a pacemaker or other electric implanted device, EMS could disrupt this device, so you are not eligible for EMS therapy. EMS should not be used over an open wound or over malignant tissue. You should never use EMS around the eyes, sinuses, reproductive organs or certain areas of the neck. EMS should not be used on people with a mental impairment. EMS should not be used on pregnant women.