What is Electrical Stimulation?

C.B. Fox
C.B. Fox
Those with a pacemaker should not undergo electrical stimulation.
Those with a pacemaker should not undergo electrical stimulation.

Electrical stimulation is sometimes used as a type of physical therapy. Current is passed through a patient’s body using electrodes. This type of therapy is usually done in sessions of 15 to 90 minutes and is considered by some to be an effective treatment for pain as well as a few other medical conditions. The electrical current that passes through a patient’s body has a low voltage and current.

As physical therapy, electrical stimulation can be used to treat pain in different parts of the body. It works by limiting a nerve cell’s ability to transmit pain signals and by increasing the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killers. Though many patients and technicians claim that the treatment is effective, few clinical studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in comparison to a placebo.

It is also possible to use electrical stimulation when caring for wounds. Studies have shown that using electrical stimulation on a wound can decrease healing time. The electricity applied to the injured area promotes healing in a number of different ways and can be used to speed up healing in both new wounds and those that have had some time to heal on their own. Electrical stimulation has been shown to increase blood flow, the synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), and the rate of oxygenation in the affected tissue.

In order to achieve favorable results through the use of electrical stimulation, it is necessary for a patient to undergo regular treatments. Most treatments last for about an hour, though they can be as short as 15 minutes or as long as two hours. The treatments are also administered daily or several times per week, which means that the patient needs to be able to devote a large amount of time to the procedure in order for it to be effective.

Patients who have a pacemaker should not receive electrical stimulation for any reason. The electricity used in the treatment can interfere with the pacemaker and lead to a life threatening condition. Likewise, patients with certain heart arrhythmias should only use electrical stimulation cautiously and not in the areas around the heart, either on the back or the chest.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Those with a pacemaker should not undergo electrical stimulation.
      By: Carolina K Smith MD
      Those with a pacemaker should not undergo electrical stimulation.