TENS and E-stim- the shocking truth of how it's used in veterinary rehab!

Written by Jennifer Rouse, DVM CCRP Aug 23 • 1 minute read

We are continuing to work our way through a review of the different modalities that veterinary rehabilitation therapists use this week.  Today's blog is positively electric! Literally!

Electricity is one of the things that we can use to stimulate healing in our patients. It is a medium that is more commonly used in human medicine but is sometimes used in our veterinary patients. The two most common forms in veterinary medicine are TENS and NMES. 

TENS is short for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. It uses electrode pads that adhere to the patients skin and uses electrical currents to interrupt the pain signal from an injured area of the body to the brain. The downside in veterinary patients is that hair must be shaved to affix the pads. For that reason, it is sometimes more practical immediately post op since the surgical area is usually clipped free of hair. Newer pain treatments such as PEMF loops and beds have taken the place of this modality due to the practicality and ease of treatment but it is still sometimes used. 

NMES is short for Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation. It is a treatment that uses electrical stimulation to help your muscles contract properly after injury or surgery. This form of muscular re-education can be useful in helping a patient return to normal function quickly after an injury or surgery. It is often used early in the course of recovery and can be used to help reduce the chance of muscle atrophy post injury. It also requires good skin contact and necessitates shaving the fur, so it is not commonly used but available if the veterinary rehab therapist feels it will help an individual patient's recovery plan. 

Other forms of electrical therapy such as Iontophoresis and Russian Stimulation are not commonly used in veterinary medicine but are available. Like any modality, it is best to check with your veterinary rehabilitation therapist to see what treatments are appropriate for your pet's condition!

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