Electrical Muscle Stimulation
Often referred to as “muscle stim,” of “estim” this therapy involves low levels of electrical impulses delivered to the injured, painful tissues to reduce pain and speed healing. Often described by patients as a pleasant, “tingling” sensation, or “electrical massage,” these impulses stimulate the body to release natural pain relievers, called endorphins. These endorphins reduce pain and inflammation, thereby promoting faster healing of the injured tissues. The impulses also go along the same pathway as pain sensations and can often “trick” your body into not feeling the pain. This therapy is often used to treat acute or chronic pain, as well as strains or sprains of the muscles, joints, and soft tissues of the spine and extremities.
Ultrasound used at Healthcare Complete in Newburyport is a therapeutic procedure that utilizes sound waves to treat injured muscles, joints, and soft tissues. The sound waves vibrate the tissues back and forth, creating a deep, micro-massage effect. In the case of a recent injury, this helps to decrease scar tissue and adhesion formation, which would otherwise interfere with the body’s healing process. The sound waves also decrease inflammation by destroying unwanted inflammatory cells. Therapeutic ultrasound also accelerates healing by stimulating the activity of the cells responsible for cellular and tissue repair. In chronic cases, special settings can be used to create a deep-heating effect in the tissues far below the skin’s surface. This heat, along with the vibrations that are caused by the ultrasound, help to melt away the muscle spasms and “knots” felt in our muscles.
Iontophoresis is a technique which uses an electric current or ultrasound to deliver a healing substance through the skin. At Healthcare Complete, we use substances such as CBD, Arnica, Boswellia or essential oils with Iontophoresis to reduce pain faster.
Ice or Heat Therapy
Ice therapy or cryotherapy is the therapy of choice for acute injuries. Actually, the application of ice over any painful tissue is usually effective at any stage of an injury. It works by constricting blood flow to the tissue, thereby reducing swelling, pain, and muscular spasms. It is very important to use ice correctly. It should be used for a maximum of 20 minutes, but may be applied each hour. Also, it is important that you do not apply the ice directly to the skin. Instead, wrap the ice pack in a paper towel or thin damp cloth prior to applying to the injured area.
Moist heat may help control your pain by blocking pain signals from being transmitted. Application of heat may also help reduce pain by relaxing muscle spasm and enhancing healing (see below for more about that). Although opinions on this differ, many experts recommend that moist heat be used only for chronic or sub-acute back or neck pain. The thinking is if you put a hot pack on an acute injury, you risk increased swelling or bleeding which may aggravate the area and cause more pain. In a moist heat treatment, a hot pack is placed on the tight or painful area and left there for about 10 or 15 minutes.