Electrical muscle stimulation or EMS is a treatment method that uses an electrical current to contract a single muscle or group of muscles. Electrodes are placed by the physical therapist on the skin in certain locations, typically on the appropriate muscle fibers. By contracting the affected muscle using electrical muscle stimulation, the muscles can be strengthened. The physical therapist is able to change the settings of the electrical current to allow for gentle muscle contractions to more forceful contractions. While providing increased muscle strength, these muscle contractions will help to increase the supply of blood to the area which promotes healing.
To help decrease pain around injured tissue, electrical stimulation and TENS (transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation) may be used on occasion in physical therapy.
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) is another form of electrical stimulation used to contract muscles. This treatment modality is used primarily to help injured muscles "relearn" proper functioning.