Electrical Stimulation Device - Information Sheet
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulator)
The small electrical currents of TENS are adjusted to send stimulating pulses over the surface of the skin and into nerve endings. Those pulses help to decrease pain by blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. They also help stimulate production of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. This type of stimulator is characterized by biphasic current. ("Biphasic" refers to two phases, or pulses of 2 different intensities alternating with each other - not to be confused with "alternating current" or bi-directional current flow.) Most stimulators feature adjustable settings to control amplitude (intensity) of stimulation by controlling voltage, current, and pulse width (duration) of each pulse. Electrodes are placed at specific sites on the body for treatment of pain. TENS stimulates sensory nerves to block pain signals, stimulate endorphin production to help normalize sympathetic function.
EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulator)
The low voltage electrical currents of EMS are adjusted to stimulate muscle motor nerve strands at a high enough intensity to cause muscle contractions and thus affect muscles at a deep level. EMS differs from TENS in that it is designed to stimulate muscle motor nerves, while TENS is designed to stimulate sensory nerve endings to help decrease pain. Contraction/relaxation of muscles has been found to effectively treat a variety of musculoskeletal and vascular conditions. Benefits can include muscle relaxation, increased local blood circulation, and treatment of tenderness. Other common uses for EMS: increasing range of motion: preventing Muscle Disuse Atrophy, releasing muscle spasms, various conditions that benefit from increased local circulation.
IF (Interferential Stimulator)
A more complex development of TENS, and is a unique way of effectively delivering therapeutic frequencies to tissue.While conventional TENS devices deliver electrical pulses at extremely low frequency (typically 2-150 Hz), Interferential stimulation uses medium frequencies -- above 1000 Hz, and typically around 4000 Hz. Medium frequencies travel in the tissue much more easily, can go further and deeper, and with less discomfort to the patient.
Interferential is so named because "interference" between currents of multiple frequencies is what makes interferential devices effective. The "interference" occurs between the 2 or more currents used. One current has fixed frequency (typically at 4000 Hz) and the other's frequency varies by up to 400 Hz . At the point of intersection between the electrodes, which can be deeper than in TENS due to medium current's ease of penetration, the combined currents produce an "interference frequency", also called a "beat". That is a TENS-like low frequency, for example 100 Hz, and for body tissue it has a similar pain-relieving effect to TENS. As well as greater depth, interferential also allows an increased dosage because of the body tissue's better tolerance of medium-frequency currents. By using four electrodes Interferential treatment (IF) allows better focus and even deeper tissue stimulation.
MC (Microcurrent Stimulator)
Microcurrent Therapy uses extremely tiny electrical currents (amounts of electricity measured in millionths of an ampere, or micro amps, symbolized as µA ) to help relieve pain and heal soft tissues of the body. The "microcurrent" designation distinguishes it from regular TENS therapy, which uses currents measured in mA (or milliamps). Typically TENS devices deliver currents up to 80 mA, but the limit for microcurrents is about 8 mA, equivalent to 8000 µA (or micro amps). Microcurrent units may operate well below that, at about 900 µA. Current levels that seem to be most effective in helping tissue heal range from 20 to 500 MicroAmps.
Microcurrent is used for the relief of pain, because of its close proximity to our own body's current, and is thought to work on a more cellular level. It is theorized that healthy tissue exists within the direct flow of electrical current throughout our body. Electrical balance is disrupted when the body is injured at a particular site, causing the electrical current to change course. The use of Microcurrent over the injured site is thought to realign this flow and thus aid in tissue repair.