Electrotherapy – EMS & TENS

EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) and TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) are to major types of electrotherapy used in horses. The waveforms and current capacities are essentially the same for both methods, however stimulation parameters (such as pulse duration and width, and pulsing frequency) will vary depending on the therapeutic effect we want to achieve. EMS is used as a “muscle trainer” and it leads to intense muscle contractions, for example to retrain atrophic muscles.

Indications for EMS therapy are:

  • Strengthening of a normal muscle
  • Retraining and strengthening of atrophic muscle
  • Muscular weakness associated with neurological damage

TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) devices are used as a pain suppressors. There are two main mechanisms of action by which the pain relief is achieved:

  • Gait control: stimulation of peripheral nerves helps to block nociceptive activity
  • Endorphin production: electrical stimulation causes the release of endorphins – the “hormones of happiness”

Indications for TENS therapy:

  • Acute pain associated with surgery (post-operative pain)
  • Chronic musculoskeletal pain (e.g. back pain)
  • Neuralgia