Can using electrodes help you deal with chronic pain? Electrical energy is a tool with many medical benefits including pain management. In 1856, a French neurologist discovered a method of using alternating current to trigger muscle contractions. Today, electrical muscle stimulation is an approved form of rehabilitation and pain management.
Electrode therapy, or more commonly referred to as electrotherapy, is exactly what it sounds like – the use of electric energy to mimic the nerve impulses that cause muscles to contract. The electrodes are attached to the skin around the affected area to work those muscles.
The use of electrode therapy often coincides with rehabilitation efforts and pain management. The electrical muscle stimulation provides pain relief because if forces contracted tissue to relax
The benefits of electrode therapy extend beyond relaxing muscle tissue. This treatment option is used in combination with other rehabilitation efforts to improve flexibility and range of motion.
Chronic pain can limit how you move. If you hurt your shoulder, your natural inclination is to try not to move it. Unfortunately, the movement is a necessary part of the healing process. Without it, muscles tend to shrink up – a condition known as muscle atrophy.
With direct stimulation of the muscle, the tissue elongates and contracts without nerve involvement. The electrodes take the place of the nerves that normally cause the muscles to move. In a sense, they are exercising independently to increase strength and improve healing. This helps muscles recover faster than they would with only traditional physical therapy.
Electrode therapy also provides stress relief. Pain causes you to tense up, leading to more discomfort. If you have a back injury, the chronic pain can lead to neck tension and headaches. With electrode stimulation, the neck muscles relax like you have had a deep tissue massage. At the same time, the treatment loosens the connective tissue and reduces inflammation, making you more flexible. Blood rushes to the area to fuel the moving muscle and improve healing.
It is up to the doctor to decide if electrode therapy is the right option for you, but, generally speaking, anyone who suffers from chronic pain may see some benefit. If you are recovering from an injury or working to rehab a joint, then electrode therapy may promote faster healing while helping reduce the pain. If your problem is chronic, like frequent headaches, just the relaxing effect of the treatment will offer some relief.