Electric stimulation therapy is a form of physical therapy to treat muscle pain and spasms. It can be administered by a professional therapist (chiropractor, physical therapist, athletic trainer) or through lower strength units for home use.
The three main types are general (interferential, pre-mod, microcurrent), muscular (Hi-Volt, Russian) and TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). General e-stim is used for pain and tissue healing and is the most often used type in my office. Muscular e-stim is used for strengthening and often helps with rehabilitation. A TENS unit is for chronic pain. This is the most common home unit purchased and I often will prescribe a unit for those patients needing pain management.
General e-stim can decrease pain/spasm, better the body's circulation and increase range of motion. By working to decrease pain and increase strength, e-stim can help improve the quality of life for my patients. There are countless studies from major universities showing a positive and statistically significant effect in improving endurance and reducing fatigue and chronic pain.
I have found that e-stim works well when accompanied by other modalities or techniques. Rarely do I use e-stim alone. I do prescribe an affordable (less than $100) TENS unit when necessary. The primary unit used in my office is a Rich-Mar Winner ST2. This is one of the most powerful units available and gives me the option to use various ranges, currents and frequencies. My unit can be programmed for basic interferential, pre-modular interferential, hi-volt, russian and microcurrent. Each one of these currents are beneficial depending on the ailment. So your diagnosis will dictate what settings are used.