Definition

Electrical stimulation (e-stim) is the use of a device to send gentle electrical pulses through the skin.

There are 2 main types of devices:

  • Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to help repair muscles
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to help with pain

E-stim may be done in an office or at home.

Reasons for Procedure

E-stim may be used to repair muscles or to help with pain from:

Thigh Muscle

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Possible Complications

Potential problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will go over some of these problems, like:

Note: E-stim is not advised for people with heart problems, seizures, or women who are pregnant.

Before e-stim, talk to your doctor about ways to handle anything that may raise your risk of problems.

What to Expect

Certain medicines may cause problems during e-stim or after. Talk to your doctor about all medicines or supplements you are taking.

Small sticky pads, called electrodes, will be placed around the site. Wires from the e-stim device will be attached to the sticky pads.

The device will be turned on at a low setting. The setting will be raised until you sense a pins and needles feeling. An EMS device will also cause a small twitch in the muscle. The strength of the EMS may be adjusted throughout your treatment as your body gets used to the feeling.

E-stim may last 5-15 minutes. It depends on the reason you need to have it done.

You may feel a tingly or warm feeling during e-stim. The feelings are strange but should not be painful.

At Home

When you return home, take these steps:

  • Follow your pain or rehabilitation program as advised by your doctor or physical therapist.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Redness or swelling at the site where the sticky pads were placed
  • Rapid heart beat

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.