In a previous post, we introduced the readers to electroanalgesia and the benefits that can arise from being treated with that modality. As a refresher, these benefits include, analgesia, increase circulation and lymphatic flow, increased cellular metabolism, regeneration of tissue, muscle activation, immune support, and anti-inflammatory effects. In this post, we will dive deeper so that you, the reader can obtain a better understanding of exactly how these devices produce these results.
The analgesic component has several mechanisms of action that create this result. Polarity changes with the electrical stimulating units increase ion movement. The increased ion movement reduces tissue acidity. Additionally, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), a secondary messenger, directs cell-specific activity toward cellular repair, inhibits arachidonic acid release (which is involved in the pain cascade) (Odell, 2011). Encephalin and β-endorphin inhibit pain signals in the central nervous systems. The cellular uptake of these chemical mediators is increased with the use of electroanalgesic devices.
The circulatory effects are also mediated by the electricity parameters that fatigue the sympathetic nervous system leading to dilated vessels, increasing flow. The increased flow helps to more efficiently remove metabolic waste products. Metabolism effects are cAMP-mediated as well. In this case, cAMP stabilizes the cellular membrane which prevents the transition of acids out of the cells. These acids promote inflammation and pain once leaked out of the cells. Regeneration of tissue is key to the use of electrical signaling therapies. The mechanism here is causing nerve firing to increase, more than normal, leading to regeneration at three to five times the typical rate.
The reader doesn’t need to understand the mechanisms to any significant degree. The reason for blogging about these technical factors is to show the readers, who could be potential patients or treating physicians, that these devices are not working in the realm of placebo. There are actual scientific reasons for why these devices work. This should deter anyone from thinking that electrical signaling therapies are mere gimmicks. If you are suffering from chronic pain, especially neuropathic pain, talk to your physician about this treatment as an adjunct to traditional therapies. As always, we are available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Odell, R. S. (2011). New Technique Combines Electrical Currents and Local Anesthetics for Pain Management. Practical Pain Management, 65.