National Physical Therapy Month

October is national physical therapy month. For clarity, Physical Therapy as defined by Merriam-Webster is a therapy for the preservation, enhancement, or restoration of movement and physical function. As a result, a patient impaired by disease, injury, or disability that utilizes therapeutic exercise, physical modalities, assistive devices, and patient education. This year, we celebrate the increasing use of electrical stimulation or E-Stim.

What is Electrical Stimulation?

First, E-stim uses electrical pulses to mimic the action of signals coming from the neurons, or cells in your nervous system. Second, this form of muscle recovery therapy sends signals to the target muscles, causing them to contract. Therefore, causing muscle contractions and improving blood flow, helping repair injured muscles.

There are two main types of electrical stimulation, TENS and EMS.


TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, and some people use these battery-powered devices to treat pain. By using TENS, you’re able to manage chronic, long-term pain as well as acute, short-term pain. Additionally, the process of TENS involves placing electrodes on the skin near the pain source and sending signals through the nerves. After that, the nerves will prevent the pain signals transmitted to the brain. 


EMS stands for Electrical Muscle Stimulation and these machines are designed to stimulate the muscles for strengthening and rehabilitating them. EMS has a slightly stronger current than TENS and can contract muscles. Similarly, by placing the unit’s electrodes on the skin near the affected muscles, rhythmic contractions take place. Above all, if the user tries to contract muscles at the same time, EMS can actually increase muscle strength.

Uses of TENS Treatment:

  • Endometriosis is an often painful disorder. In other words, tissue similar to the tissue normally lining the inside of your uterus grows outside your uterus.

Arthritis occurs in one or more of your joints. To clarify, it is the swelling and tenderness in the joints.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the brain and spinal cord that can potentially be disabling. 

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain. Oftentimes, this is accompanied by fatigue, memory, and mood issues.

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that only appears if you have diabetes. 

A spinal cord injury is any damage to part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal. In addition, it often causes permanent changes in strength, sensation, and other body functions.

Uses of EMS Treatment:

  • Muscle strengthening
  • Rehabilitation purposes
  • Prevent disuse muscle atrophy
  • Increase blood circulation
  • Relaxation of muscles 
  • Cosmetic muscle tonin


Above all, using electrical stimulation in Physical Therapy can help you expand your specific rehabilitation program. In addition, your physical therapist may recommend e-stim to decrease pain and improve functional mobility. Therefore, if you plan to use electrical stimulation, understanding the different therapies will help during your recovery process. 

Works Cited:

“News & Events.” Lima Memorial Health System Lima, OH,  

“African Rejuvenation Medicine(Ajidewe).” BABALAWO OBANIFA,

“Horse Riding – Sports Chiropractor for Horse Riders.” Pro Chiro, 10 Aug. 2020,

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