electrodes image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com

Electrical stimulation (stim) machines deliver electrical current to the body through electrodes attached to the skin. They are used by physical therapists, chiropractors, and other health care professionals as an alternative treatment for pain, muscle fiber recruitment and functional retraining.

Pain Reduction

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) delivers electrical impulses through electrodes placed on the area of the body where the pain is occurring. These impulses travel to the brain and cause "confusion" which reduces the body's perception of pain. TENS units are portable and can be used full-time if necessary.

Muscle Recruitment

Electrical stimulation with electrodes placed over a particular muscle group causes the fibers to contract, assisting in the movement of a specific joint in the body. This type of stimulation is used frequently by rehabilitation therapists to strengthen injured muscles.

Functional Retraining

Electrical stimulation is used in the treatment of urinary incontinence through biofeedback or by stimulating the nerves that travel from the spine to the bladder. There are minimal side effects with the use of stim when compared to the use of medications for urinary issues.

About the Author

Aubrey Bailey

Aubrey Bailey has been writing health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a certified hand therapist.