Supporting evidence for Electrical Muscle Stimulation or EMS

EMS has a long history, having been used in medical applications for over a century. During that time, EMS techniques have been extensively researched and refined, showing benefits in the treatment of injury and illness, as well as being used to help maintain a healthy circulation.

EMS has been shown to improve blood flow, which boosts the circulation. The medical benefits of this can include:

  • Reducing swelling due to fluid build-up (oedema)
  • Increasing flexibility (range of motion)
  • Making muscles stronger
  • Slowing down muscle-wasting

EMS has been shown to help with the following medical conditions:

  • OsteoArthritis
  • DPN
  • ACL Surgery
  • Venous Insufficiency

OsteoArthritis (OA)

EMS applied to the muscles at the front on the thighs can reduce knee pain in people with OsteoArthritis (OA). EMS applied to these muscles, and to the calves, can also strengthen forward extension of the leg at the knee in people with hip OsteoArthritis (hip OA), who have undergone total hip-replacement surgery.

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN)

This is a condition in which certain nerves in the body are damaged. This can cause a wide range of symptoms, including numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, and burning, stabbing or shooting pains. EMS appears to be effective in reducing painful symptoms of DPN.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) surgery

The ACL is a tough band of bodily material that joins the thigh bone to the shin bone, at the knee joint. It helps to keep the knee stable and control the back-and-forth movement of the lower leg. The ACL can become torn if the knee is twisted in a certain way (eg when skiing) and requires surgery to fix it. The strength of the front thigh muscles are reduced after ACL surgery following injury, but EMS combined with exercise can restore the strength of these muscles and improve the way that they work.

Venous insufficiency

This simply means that blood is not flowing through the veins as well as it should. This can be due to a number of things, including problems with the valves within veins. If these valves are not working as they should, it is much harder for blood to go ‘uphill’ back to the heart.

Venous insufficiency can lead to pooling of blood in the feet and lower legs, causing puffiness and swelling due to fluid build-up (‘oedema’). EMS can reduce oedema and associated pain in patients with chronic venous insufficiency. It does this by improving the way that the calf muscles work to squeeze blood ‘uphill’ back towards the heart. The medical term for this is ‘improving the calf muscle-venous pump’. However, treatment for the underlying cause of venous insufficiency is also needed.

An illustration of the lower legs.

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