Electrical stimulation is being used in chiropractic treatment to help patients manage acute and chronic pain associated with trauma (e.g., an automobile accident). Known as electrotherapy, there are three stimulation devices. One of those apparatuses is called galvanic stimulation (GS), and it has its own wavelength, frequency and effect.
How Does Galvanic Stimulation Compare With Other Forms of Electrotherapy?
Like the other two machines — transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and interferential current (IFC) — galvanic stimulation uses electrodes. These electrodes are linked to the device on one end, with the other end extending outward. Its extensions have endings that are enclosed in adhesive pads. These pads are placed on the skin and allow a rush of electrical current to be released for the purpose of stimulating the nerves and muscles.
Once the current is discharged, the patient will hopefully experience less pain, because the device attempts to do one of two things:
- Arouse the nerves and trigger the body to make more of its own natural painkillers (endorphins)
- Encourage the nerves to send signals to the brain that instruct it to halt pain signals
However, unlike TENS and IFC, which both apply alternating current, galvanic stimulation uses direct current that can be applied in a sequence of pulses or in a steady flow. With direct current, an electrical field is generated over the treatment area. This, theoretically, alters the patient’s blood flow. Armed with two pads, the positive pad of the device acts like ice and decreases circulation to the region beneath the pad while also minimizing swelling. The negative pad acts like a heat source and boosts circulation, which helps speed up wound healing. The pads also stimulate the muscles and nerves.
What Is Galvanic Stimulation Used For?
Because of the device’s abilities, galvanic stimulation can go a long way in managing:
- Pain associated with trauma or resulting from medical conditions
- Muscle tension
- Nerve pain
Is Galvanic Stimulation Safe?
While galvanic stimulation can be performed at home with the assistance of a home unit, it should be used under the direction and guidance of your chiropractor to avoid injury and adverse side effects, such as tissue damage. Your chiropractor will advise you on how to use the device appropriately and will help you establish the proper setting / frequency that is right for you.