There are many different types of E-stim that we can manipulate using different frequencies, pulse durations, wavelengths, etc. The type of E-stim we use in your treatment depends on our goals for you. Let’s break it down in simple terms:
If you had a lot of soft tissue work done in our session (yes, those infamous thumbs!), you will likely be getting a setting called “Pre-mod.” This setting helps to reinforce what we worked on manually by increasing blood flow to the area, moving fluid out of the area (decrease swelling), and relaxing the muscle fibers by providing a gentle sensory stimulus.
If you have a very acute injury, such as a sprained ankle or a fresh surgery, we will likely use an E-stim setting called “Interferential current.” A current is sent between the electrodes to interfere with the natural pain signals your body is sending to your brain. This acts to “turn off” those pain signals and give you the sensation of pain relief. This is the same general idea behind a form of E-stim called “TENS,” which you may have heard of.
If you have a very weak muscle that is having trouble activating, such as your quad after an ACL reconstruction, we will use a setting called “Russian.” This setting stimulates your muscle fibers to contract—your quad will fire without you even trying! Besides being really cool to watch, this helps to retrain your nerves and muscles to communicate appropriately to regain your ability to fire that muscle on your own.
Hopefully this gives you a clearer picture of how those little pads work and why we use them in therapy. As you can see, E-stim serves as a useful adjunct to your treatment, but cannot resolve your problems on its own. High quality treatment consists of a well-rounded plan of hands-on manual therapy, therapeutic exercise prescription, neuromuscular re-education, and modalities like E-stim.
This is what you will get at Wisconsin Orthopedic Physical Therapy! Call us today at (414) 763-2941