Electrical stimulation, also known as e-stim, involves stimulating local nerve cells that reduce pain and discomfort by blocking the transmission of the pain signals (pain gate mechanism) or by stimulating the release of pain reducing endorphins. This modality is a widely used therapy that utilizes electrical current to cause a single muscle or a group of muscles to contract. This is achieved by placing electrodes on the skin around the affected area. The chiropractic assistant adjusts the settings on the e-stim machine to a level that is comfortable to the patient. The patient will feel a tingly sensation that is often compared to how an extremity feels when it is ‘asleep’.
This type of therapy increases blood flow, promotes tissue healing, improves strength and contractility, relaxes the muscle and reduces inflammation (swelling). It is commonly used to treat muscle spasms, muscles strains and help reduce soreness. It is also used as a pain reducer. Many times it is used in conjunction with spinal flexion/distraction therapy to reduce the symptoms of a bulged or herniated disc. It is best used in acute (symptoms present < 6 weeks) conditions including muscle strains, ligament sprains, tendonitis, and neuropathy. It also has been shown to be effective in some chronic conditions, including fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome.