If you’ve ever had to go to physical therapy for work on an injury or a chiropractor for a back injury, chances are you have experienced electrostimulation therapy (E-Stim). Electrical muscle stimulation therapy has been used for a long time by physical therapists, doctors, and other medical professionals to help soothe pain and rehabilitate muscles.


During treatment, your therapist attaches electrode pads to your skin around the specified area. When turned on, the machine sends mild electrical pulses through your muscles, making them contract. This process simulates how your muscles voluntarily contract and release which helps them to strengthen and recover.


Nowadays, you can get TENS or EMS units to use at home and gain the benefits without having to go into a clinic. However, there are a few things you should consider before purchasing an at-home unit. We will explore these things below:


First, we need to establish the difference between a TENS machine and an EMS machine. While both of these devices use electrical currents to affect a specific part of the body, TENS and EMS units serve very different purposes.


A TENS unit is meant to temporarily relieve chronic or acute pain. A TENS treatment will typically last anywhere between 15-40 minutes and is not painful but may cause a tingly feeling where the electrodes are. TENS treatments are not meant to heal injuries, only to relieve pain.


Meanwhile, an EMS unit’s electrodes are applied to key muscle groups and are meant to jumpstart muscle contractions to re-educate the muscles. These units are used for physical therapy and rehabilitation, and should not be used to relieve pain.


TENS/EMS practices

Every TENS/EMS unit will come with instructions for you to read before beginning treatment. However, to help you get positive results with your E-stim unit, we have collected a few tips:


First, the current flows from one electrode to the other in the channel of the E-Stim unit, this means you must use both electrodes in the channel. Most E-Stim units come with 2 channels, so you will either be using 2 electrodes (1 channel) or 4 electrodes (2 channels).


If you are trying to stimulate a general area, for example, the low back, you will get the best results if you use 2 channels and apply the electrodes in an “X” formation. Place the first electrode of channel 1 in the upper-right corner of your low back and place the second electrode in the lower-left corner, then mirror this placement for channel 2.


If you are trying to affect a joint (like an elbow), you should place the electrodes on the meatier flesh around the area (the forearm and the tricep) to ensure you are not adversely affecting the adhesive on the electrode pad.



Finally: Always contact your doctor or physical therapist first to see if TENS/EMS units are right for you. TENS/EMS treatment is not safe for everyone, especially those with heart diseases, epilepsy, or those who are pregnant.


But if you get the go-ahead from your healthcare provider, be sure to check out our at-home TENS and EMS units at Medical Supply Depot!

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