The answer to this question is simple.
You don’t have to choose because Electro-stimulation and Electrotherapy refer to the same treatment which uses weak electrical signals to transfer energy to our body.
Only their purpose is different: electrostimulation is used to build muscles, improve sports performance and for body tone-up in general. Electrotherapy is used for pain management, treatment and rehabilitation of muscles and nerves which lost their natural functioning due to diseases, infections or traumas.
Whether you’re an amateur or a professional athlete, a physician or a physical therapist, electrical stimulation is an integral and recognised part of sport and rehabilitation related protocols and studies.
Our whole body communicates constantly with our brain through transmission of electrical signals that control our muscles by means of the nerves.The bioelectrical signals which adjust all our actions can be supplemented or even partly replaced by electrical stimulation. Electro-stimulation respects the physiological processes of our body because it intervenes from outside with the same signals that are naturally generated by our brain. It can also stimulate areas of the limb that are unreachable to natural electrical signals (such as a denervated muscle, for example) and it can even restore the mobility of the limb by preventing atrophy and helping the muscle survive.
Below you can see the types of current and their applications, reported in a very simplified manner:
TENS: it is a therapeutic technique used to relieve chronic and acute pain (joint pain, muscular pain, neuritis, myalgia) with quick analgesic action. TENS can be divided into several categories (quick, endorphinic, at maximum values, TENS Burst, etc.) based on the principle used for obtaining the analgesic action (quick but short-time pain relief, delayed but longer lasting pain relief, analgesic action followed by immediate calming effect, etc.).
MICROCURRENT: it is a therapy used to treat chronic pain (mainly osteoarticular pain) and inflammations; the intensity of the current is much lower than the one used in classic TENS therapy. It is particularly recommended to people with high degree of sensitivity who cannot tolerate the classical TENS.
INTERFERENTIAL: This type of therapy is easy to tolerate and uses interferential currents which are able to penetrate deeper in the tissues. This type of pulse generates an analgesic action and a motor exciting effect, restoring muscular strength in the treated area.
EMS/NEMS: therapeutic technique used to favour muscular contractions for sportive and rehabilitative purposes. EMS/NMES can be used on athletes to improve muscle strength or efficiency or on patients who undergo surgical procedures for maintaining muscle strength or for the recovery of basic movements.
IONTOPHORESIS: it is a therapeutic technique which uses continuous current to introduce medicines into the affected area. The electrical current transports the medicine to the affected area, where it releases a specific active ingredient. This type of treatment replaces oral medication and acts directly on the affected area.
DENERVATED/TRIANGULAR: this type of therapy uses specific waveforms (square, triangular) to rehabilitate the denervated muscle; the stimulation pulses are much longer than those used during the common muscle stimulation programmes. Electrical stimulation can preserve muscle tone and prevent muscle atrophy during motor nerve regrowth period.
INCONTINENCE: functional electrical stimulation (FES) can be used to restore pelvic floor muscles function in the treatment of problems associated with urinary or fecal incontinence. The special probes (anal or vaginal) allow for muscle tone and muscle strength recovery.
KOTZ: Kotz currents are used to strengthen muscle tone in normal innervated muscles. Compared to low frequency currents, they ensure enhanced muscle recruitment (fibres stimulation) and greater tolerability.
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