Answered: What Is Electrical Muscle Stimulation? (EMS, E-Stim)

Answered: What Is Electrical Muscle
Stimulation? (EMS, E-Stim)

Trigger points can be painful and we use a range of methods to treat them but electrical muscle stimulation is probably one you haven’t heard of before. For some of our patients, like Daniel, we combine EMS with dry needling to provide pain and tension relief at a deeper level than we could reach with just superficial electrical muscle stimulation.

As you can see in the video, we attach electrical stimulation to the needles and turn it up slowly while asking the patient when they can feel it and it’s strong but still comfortable. This is not a painful process and it’s great for providing pain relief to multiple trigger points.


What Is Electrical Muscle Stimulation?

If you’re wondering “what is electrical muscle stimulation” you’re certainly not alone. Despite its popularity, electric muscle stimulation is not one of the better known chiropractic therapies. Electric muscle stimulation, also known as EMS or E-stim, is a process where electric currents are sent through muscles in order to make them contract. Many chiropractors utilize superficial electric muscle stimulation where the currents are delivered via small pads that stick to the skin. While that can be helpful, we have found that many of our patients respond better when we send electric currents through the needles during a dry needling session.

Dr. Blake mentioned in the video that he focuses on points of tension when dry needling.  When he finds multiple trigger points like he did with Daniel’s leg, he applies electrical stimulation or “stim” to the needles to provide muscle and pain relief at a deeper level than we can with superficial EMS. 

Electric muscle stimulation or EMS is especially beneficial during the injury rehabilitation process. When the muscles contract during the electric stimulation, the patient experiences pain and tension relief and a reduction in swelling. Electric muscle stimulation is utilized very frequently for those who are working to recover from an injury because it can actually speed up the recovery process.


What Is Dry Needling?

If you’re not familiar with dry needling, it uses a thin monofilament needle to penetrate the skin and treat underlying muscular trigger points or muscle tension, injuries, and pain. This process has been proven to relieve and improve neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments in many patients and is amplified when we apply electric currents to the needles.

Dry needling is a drug-free treatment performed by skilled, trained, and certified chiropractors, medical doctors, and physical therapists. This process has been proven to relieve and improve neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments in many patients. Dry needling provides a natural way to relieve pain using anti-inflammatory mediators that exist in the body to decrease the sensation of pain.

While the name may sound painful, dry needling causes minimal discomfort if any. Our patients compare dry needling's effectiveness to that of multiple deep tissue massages, but in a fraction of the time. When we apply EMS to the dry needles you may feel a twitch or a tinge but it isn’t a painful process. In fact, the entire process can be quite relaxing!


What Is Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) Used To Treat?

Whether applied superficially or via dry needling, EMS can be used to treat a wide range of ailments. We use it on Daniel’s trigger points in the video above but it can also be used to treat neck and back pain. Electrical muscle stimulation can also be used to treat tendinitis, bursitis, muscle spasms, and inflammation. Many athletes use electrical muscle stimulation after intense training to reduce swelling and minimize soreness.

Are you interested in trying electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) or dry needling to treat your pain? Click here to make an appointment or call us at (410) 296-7700 to set up your appointment!

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Kalkstein Chiropractic
200 East Joppa Road #300
Towson, MD 21286
(410) 296-7700