Types of Electrical Muscle Stimulation

Jan 29, 2021

Try something new for your chronic pain relief or recovery journey with the different types of electrical muscle stimulation. There is no form of treatment that covers every issue on the list, so health professionals have developed a variety of electrical muscle stimulation therapies to help pain management and recovery. No matter the degree of your health issue, electrical muscle stimulation might have a positive effect on your health and wellness.  

What is Electrical Muscle Stimulation?

Electrical Muscle Stimulation, broadly, is the use of electrical pulses sent to a muscle to cause patterned contraction in the target area. Health and wellness professionals have found the use of electrical muscle stimulation to provide a long list of benefits for chronic pain management and muscle fiber strengthening and recovery. 

While the overall concept is similar, there is a list of different types of electrical muscle stimulation used in varying degrees on a list of health issues. Each type of electrical muscle stimulation is better targeted to help a certain kind of health and wellness issue for patients.   

What are the Types of Electrical Muscle Stimulation?


Electrical muscle stimulation, or neuromuscular electrical stimulation, refers to the basic practice of using electrical pulses to cause underlying muscle contraction. This type of therapy can be used to treat muscular health deterioration due to a stroke or similar issue to varying degrees


Functional electrical stimulation is used similarly to EMS. Health and wellness providers can use this treatment method to promote the recovery of use or the strength in a paralized or minimized function of a body part. Like EMS, this treatment can be used to stimulate the management of stroke symptoms or other muscle use issues. 


Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Unlike other electrical stimulation on the list, TENS works by sending electrical pulses across the skin, targeting nerve flow, as opposed to targeting the contraction of an underlying muscle. These nerve contractions help prevent nerve signals from shooting to the brain. Health and wellness professionals typically use this treatment for management of chronic pain and to help promote the body to create its own natural pain management.  


EMG triggered stimulation uses the body’s own muscular pulses to send electrical stimulation. This health treatment senses when the body creates a natural pulse in a muscle and sends an additional electrical pulse to strengthen the natural one. This can have a positive effect on patients who experience issues with partial or weak muscle signals being sent to the brain. 


Reciprocal EMG triggered stimulation can have a positive effect for patients who experience the opposite of an ETS issue. Instead of under contraction or weak muscular signals, these patients experience oversensitive muscle signals and contraction. RETS uses electrical stimulation in an opposing muscle when the targeted muscle contracts on its own. This builds strength and use ability in the opposing muscle, giving it a better ability to keep the connected muscle relaxed. For example, an electrical pulse would be sent to the bicep if a patient experienced oversensitive contraction in the tricep.  

What are the Benefits of Electrical Muscle Stimulation?

Each method and technique on the electrical stimulation list comes with its own degree of benefits health and wellness practitioners can utilize. From chronic pain management to muscle recovery after an injury or surgery, electrical muscle stimulation can provide many forms of health benefits for those with muscular issues.  

Most commonly, electrical muscle stimulation provides positive effects to muscular health issues. These issues can come in the form of pain, over muscle contraction, under muscle contraction, or muscular paralysis of any degree

What are the Side Effects of Electrical Muscle Stimulation?

One of the main benefits that come with electrical muscle stimulation comes with the lack of major side effects with treatment. Health and wellness professionals can provide safe treatment for the whole family, whether a child or the elderly. 

Some patients report varying degrees of muscle soreness after treatment, some tingling sensation, and skin irritation at the electrode site. 

While electrical muscle stimulation is a relatively non-invasive treatment, health professionals do not recommend application for everyone. Those who use heart monitoring devices or have heart conditions, should not use electrical muscle stimulation. In addition, pregnant women need to consult a health professional before using electrical stimulation treatment

Our Chiropractic Doctor

Dr. Amanda Hurley

Dr. Amanda Hurley

M.D. Chiropractor

Dr. Amanda is thrilled to be serving the Fargo-Moorhead community as she was raised in Fargo, ND. Dr. Amanda had always planned on attending North Dakota State University for Nursing, but while she was in school realized her interests aligned more with a holistic approach to medicine. She changed her major to pre-chiropractic and began diving into chiropractic care full force.

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