Electric Muscle Stimulation is a Safe, Non-Invasive Headache Treatment

By Annette GallagherNovember 7, 2016No Comments

Electric muscle stimulation (EMS) is just one of the non-invasive headache treatments that we offer at Houston Headache Institute, often in conjunction with other medicinal treatments. Mostly known for its use in back and neck pain treatment, EMS has proven effective against migraines and chronic headaches. Also, headaches originating from muscle tension or temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) can be treated with EMS.

Tension-type are the Most Common Headaches in US

In the past any headache caused by excessive muscle tension, or related to psychopathology, was termed a tension-type headache. They tend to come in two varieties; chronic tension-type headaches (CTTH) and episodic tension-type headaches (ETTH). Tension-type headaches are the most common headache pain experienced in the US and affect women more often than men. What these headaches have in common is that they are caused by muscle tension. Other than EMS, tension-type headaches can be treated with massage, ultrasound, hand and cold therapy as well as medication.

EMS Works By Relaxing Muscles

Electric muscle stimulation works through the placement of electrodes directly on the skin at the location of the pain or at the spinal nerve root that the pain is associated with. Medium frequency alternating currents are administered via the electrodes to the affected area. The frequency of these currents rise and fall during the treatment. The lower frequencies cause inhibition of the nerves, resulting in relaxed muscles and suppressed pain. EMS also increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles.

EMS is generally administered at a low frequency at first. As the treatment progresses, the frequency and length of the treatment can be increased. Heat is often applied simultaneously with the current to further reduce pain and muscle swelling. Sessions of electric muscle stimulation start short – from three to five minutes – and can be increased as the muscles, and the patient, become used to the current.

Electric muscle stimulation is not the answer to all types of headaches and migraines. In some cases this type of treatment would not be recommended. However, since tension-type headaches result from muscle tightness and contraction, we have found EMS to be an excellent tool in combating them. If you suffer from chronic or episodic tension-type headaches – or any other type of headache pain – schedule a consultation at National Headache Institute. We offer a number of approaches to fight headache pain including electric muscle stimulation.