Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
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Electrical stimulation (e-stim) is the use of a device to send gentle electrical pulses through the skin.
Two common devices are:
E-stim may be done in an office or at home.
E-stim may be used to repair muscles or to help with pain from:
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Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen. The problems a person may have depend on the reason for the procedure.
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
The care team may meet with you to talk about:
Small sticky pads will be placed around the site. Wires from the e-stim device will be attached to the sticky pads.
The device will be turned on at a low setting. The setting will be raised until you sense a pins and needles feeling. An EMS device will also cause a small twitch in the muscle. The strength of the EMS may be adjusted throughout your treatment as your body gets used to the feeling.
E-stim may last 5 to 15 minutes. It depends on the reason it is being used.
You may feel a tingly or warm feeling during e-stim. The feelings are strange but should not be painful.
Follow the pain or rehabilitation program given to you by your care team.
Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
American Chronic Pain Association
Canadian Cancer Society
Chronic Pain Association of Canada
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Physical therapy for osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/physical-therapy-for-osteoarthritis-oa-of-the-knee. Accessed October 14, 2020.
Resende L, Merriwether E, Rampazo E, et al. Meta-analysis of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for relief of spinal pain. Eur J Pain. 2018;22(4):663-678.
TENS machines. Patient UK website. Available at: http://patient.info/health/tens-machines-leaflet. Accessed October 14, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT Last Updated: 6/4/2021