Whether you are dealing with pain from fibromyalgia or recovering from an injury or a stroke, you may benefit from physical therapy known as electronic stimulation. E-stim refers to a therapy that involves sending mild electrical pulses through the skin to manipulate nerves to reduce pain or stimulate injured muscles.
There are two types of electronic stimulation therapies – transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). TENS and EMS are both e-stim units, but they work in different ways.
The scientific community is always busy in the TENS vs EMS debate, and which one is right for you. Here are some critical differences between TENS and EMS.
How Do TENS Work?
TENS therapy involves sending tiny electric impulses into the area with pain using electrodes attached to the skin. The electrodes target the nerves in the area and cause the body to release the pain killers. The electrical pulses transmitted by the electrodes stimulate the release of endorphins and other hormones that stops pain signals to the brain.
TENS provides relief from pain by disrupting the pain signals and preventing the activation of the electrical pathway, including acute and chronic pain symptoms. TENS does not penetrate deep into the human body and affects only the nerves in the localized area.
How Does EMS Work?
The electrical muscle stimulators work differently. The EMS therapy uses electrical impulses to stimulate muscle contractions that might cause a fast-twitch or slow-twitch response to the muscle fibers. Usually, your brain sends electrical impulses in your body through the central nervous system that fires your muscles.
The EMS device helps engage intense, deep, and complete muscular contractions without stressing your central nervous system. Your body does not recognize the difference between electrically stimulated and voluntary contractions, and it reacts to stimuli naturally.
The ways of working can settle the TENS vs. EMS debate to an extent. Here are the benefits of both electrical stimulation therapies.
Benefits of TENS
TENS is a non-invasive method to treat pain. If TENS effectively provides pain relief, the person may reduce the intake of pain medication that can cause adverse side effects.
TENS units are small in size and portable. You can carry them in your pocket and use them whenever you want immediate access to pain relief therapy.
Benefits of EMS
EMS can be used in treating pain and improving the condition, causing pain. EMS’s primary purpose is preventing muscle atrophy, strengthening muscles, and improving their growth and performance. The EMS device works to improve blood circulation by increasing muscle contractions. It can help reduce inflammation and reduce other pain symptoms.
EMS forces contraction and then stops the simulation. All this activity causes the muscles to relax, and it also helps treat muscle soreness. When EMS is used in a physical therapy setting, its benefits are more significant.
To sum up, electronic stimulation therapy can work wonders in treating conditions causing musculoskeletal and nerve pain that do not respond to conventional treatments. You should avoid getting into the TENS vs. EMS debate and choose the electronic stimulation that your physical therapist recommends.