by Kristy Donnelly, D.C.
During your chiropractic appointment at Absolute Injury & Pain Physicians, you are likely to be offered to participate in therapeutic modalities to decrease your pain, swelling and inflammation. Because not all patients are candidates for each modality, a thorough examination will be done first to make sure each person does not have any condition that disqualifies them from receiving any treatment.
Some of our treatment options that we use in conjunction with spinal manipulation, stretching and rehabilitation exercises are described and pictured below.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)
There are different types of electrical muscle stimulation and reasons for using this modality. The primary use of this tool in our practice is for muscle relaxation and pain relief.
We place four conducting pads around the treatment area, which is usually the area(s) of pain. The intensity is then slowly increased to allow the current to flow through to the opposing pads. This causes a slight tingling sensation in the area. The treatment increases circulation to the area, which encourages healing, improves recovery time, causes the muscles to relax and releases chemical pain relievers. Patients experience pain relief and improved healing.
Not all patients are candidates for electrical muscle stimulation. EMS should never be used with an electrical implant such as a pace maker, over the heart, or the front of the neck. You should not use EMS over known cancer or infection, as it may increase the growth.
Although it looks similar to diagnostic ultrasound which is regularly used during pregnancy, therapeutic ultrasound is a common physiotherapy treatment modality. It is applied using a round-headed wand or probe that is put in direct contact with the patient’s skin. One of our Chiropractic assistants will put ultrasound gel and/or Biofreeze directly on the skin in the treatment area to reduce friction.
Each treatment takes 5-8 minutes depending on the size of the affected area. For the entire duration of the treatment, the head of the ultrasound probe is kept in constant motion to assist in the transmission of the ultrasonic waves which are caused by the vibration of crystals inside the head of the wand. Sound vibrations, as fast as a million times per second penetrate the tissues deep in the body, creating a healing response.
Most patients feel nothing or a pleasant and relaxing sensation below the surface of the skin. Ultrasound speeds up the healing process by increasing blood flow, nerve conduction velocity, collagen deposition/synthesis, and cell membrane permeability while also decreasing swelling and forming stronger connective tissue.
Intersegmental Traction (IST)
IST helps create better mobility in the spine, strengthen paraspinal muscles and ligaments and prevent disc degeneration. The rollers beneath the surface slowly travel the length of the spine, flexing spinal joints. Most patients find this form of treatment to be relaxing and very helpful as it flexes and exercises the spine without effort. Since discs do not have a direct blood supply, they get nutrients from the circulation of fluids surrounding spinal joints. Fixations prevent this natural circulation and can cause disc thinning and degeneration. Intersegmental traction helps increase and restore necessary elasticity and motion to the spine. It is comfortable and relaxing, it increases mobility, improves circulation of spinal fluids and helps prevent disc degeneration.
The above physiotherapy modalities are just an example of the variety of noninvasive treatment options we have at Absolute Injury & Pain Physicians in addition to Chiropractic adjustments, myofascial release, therapeutic and strengthening exercises and various pain management options provided by our medical doctors. Each treatment plan is designed specifically for each patient to provide maximum benefit in their unique situation. Don’t hesitate to give us a call with any questions!
Related post: What to Expect on Your First Chiropractic Visit