Physical therapists and chiropractors look for innovative ways to enhance patient care through educating themselves about new technologies. Electrical stimulation devices for controlling and healing painful injuries, such as a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS, have been used in the past. However, new technology called microcurrent therapy offers another form of electrical stimulation, though with some contraindications for consideration.
Microcurrent Therapy Set Up
Microcurrent therapy involves placing stimulation pads on strategic parts of the body. Specifically, a caregiver needs to place each pad at a muscle insertion point, or end point. This placement allows a clear pathway for electrical current flow through the muscle and nerves. The caregiver applies electrical current through the pads to the patient's body. Typically, the patient will not feel any stimulation since the amount of current is less than 600 microamperes. A TENS unit would apply about 1,000 times more current compared to the microcurrent technology.
Passing electrical current through the body requires information from the patient about his current medical situation. Those patients with blood vessel issues, such as phlebitis or thrombosis, or epilepsy should not receive microcurrent therapy. Additionally, patients with a pacemaker or possible pregnancy need to avoid electrical stimulation.
However, patients who can use the treatment can benefit in a variety of ways. Blood and lymph vessels improve their circulation processes and cellular activity increases with high ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production. All of these benefits help heal wounds and rehabilitate muscles that have been damaged.
Electricity naturally flows in the least resistive path as possible. High current stimuli machines from past medical technologies actually manoeuvred around damaged body cells since the electrical flow naturally avoided the blockage to the pathway. However, the extremely low current applied through microcurrent therapy penetrates easily through damaged body cells. The current stimulates the electrical chemical reactions occurring within the cell, prompting the cell to heal itself.
Microcurrent Side Effects
The microcurrent therapy stimulates the healing process within the damaged cells, creating activity within the body that generates cellular waste products. The patient may feel nauseous and tired, almost as if they had a flu virus. Drinking water helps alleviate the side effects by flushing the body's waste products out through urinating. However, each patient is different and some may not have any side effects at all.
Microcurrent Best Practices
Microcurrent should not be the only therapy applied to a patient's ailment. Combining the electrical stimulation with physiotherapy provides the best chance for a successful recovery. The physical therapist should determine the quantity of visits necessary and discuss all the specific treatments with the patient before implementation.
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images