Risks in electrical muscle stimulation

Written by aaron marquis
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Risks in electrical muscle stimulation
Muscle stimulators contract the muscles through the use of tiny electric shocks. (electricity image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com)

Electrical muscle stimulation has a long history of use among medical and scientific communities, and is frequently used to repair muscle tissue that has suffered nerve damage. Muscle stimulators are also available as alternative fitness devices, promising increased muscle tone with regular use. Though these devices are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, regular use of the machine may pose risks to your body.

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Skin Burns

Electrical muscle stimulation can cause severe burns on your skin if the device is left on your body for extended periods of time. The heat from the electric shocks can remove layers of skin, as well as cause general irritation from the constant contraction of the skin layer.

Skin Bruising

Using electrical muscle stimulation devices may rupture blood vessels and capillaries under the skin, causing blood to seep into the surrounding tissue. Eventually, as the blood collects in the skin, you will see bruises at the electrode contact point.

Electric Shock

If the electrode wires in your stimulation unit are faulty, or the ground wires in the device are broken, you may experience a significant and painful shock throughout your body. The electricity you feel will differ from that of the device under normal conditions because the voltage and amperage will be unregulated.

Pacemaker Complications

Pacemaker function can be disrupted if you use an electrical muscle stimulation device anywhere on your body. Typically, pacemakers are extremely sensitive pieces of equipment that send minute shocks to the heart to maintain rhythm. The electrical pulse from your stimulator will alter the electrical signals from the pacemaker, possibly ruining the device.

General Pain

An electrical muscle stimulator, used properly, still delivers a shock significant enough to produce discomfort and pain. The involuntary contraction of your muscles in response to shock may create a tingling or prickly sensation.

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