What is ESTIM?

Maybe you’re suffering from chronic arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, or muscular injuries and because of that, you’re looking for relief. The Pain Relief Center in Dallas provides over 50 treatments to give you the relief you deserve, one of those treatments being ESTIM. ESTIM is a physical therapy procedure that sends electrical pulses through your skin, and as a result, your muscles may be repaired. If you’re in pain, we want to help. Call us today at 214-709-1904 to discuss which treatments are right for you.

How Does ESTIM Work?

The electrical pulses mimic neurons firing in your nervous system. In fact, ESTIM therapy is beneficial for muscle recovery because it sends signals to your muscles in order to make them contract. Repeated muscle contractions improve blood flow, and therefore repairs injured muscles. ESTIM can also “train” muscles to respond to the body’s natural signals to contract. For that reason, ESTIM greatly benefits stroke survivors who need to relearn basic movements.

What Should I Expect?

In the event that your doctor recommends ESTIM therapy, small electrodes on sticky pads will be placed around the painful area. Wires connected to the ESTIM pads will give your muscles a stream of electrical pulses. You will have the “pins and needles” sensation as a result. Additionally, each therapy session will last 5-15 minutes depending on your condition.

If you’re receiving this treatment specifically for muscular issues, the pulses will reach your muscles and make them contract. In the event that you’re receiving ESTIM for your nervous system, the pulses will block pain signals from the brain while telling your body to produce more endorphins (natural pain relief chemicals).

What is the Difference Between ESTIM and TENS Unit?

There are multiple types of ESTIM therapy, but the most common types are transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and electrical muscle stimulation (EMS).


TENS can be used for both long-term and short-term pain. Electrodes are placed on the skin in order to block pain signals from traveling to the brain.


ESM uses a stronger electrical current than TENS to contract muscles. EMS can be used in the hope that muscle strength and recovery will improve.

Other Types of ESTIM

However, your doctor may recommend other types of ESTIM therapy depending on your condition, including:

  • ESTR: electrical stimulation for tissue repair reduces swelling, increases circulation, and accelerates healing.
  • IFC: interferential current works by stimulating the nerves to potentially reduce pain.
  • NMES: neuromuscular electrical stimulation targets muscular nerves to restore function and strength, prevent muscle atrophy, and reduce muscle spasms.
  • FES: functional electrical stimulation is an implanted ESTIM unit designed to provide long-term muscle stimulation in the hope that function and motor skills are preserved.
  • SCS: spinal cord stimulation is also an implantable device that is designed to relieve pain.
  • Iontophoresis delivers ionically charged medicine to damaged tissues so the healing process will be accelerated.

So what’s the main difference between ESTIM and TENS machines? ESTIM (or EMS) machines are designed to strengthen and heal muscles whereas TENS machines stimulate nerves to relieve pain.

What is Electric Muscle Stimulation Good For?

ESTIM can be used for dozens of conditions, including:

  • Back pain.
  • Cancer-related pain.
  • Dysphagia, which is trouble swallowing.
  • Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain as well as fatigue, sleep issues, memory loss, and also mood swings.
  • Joint pain.
  • Arthritis, which is the swelling and tenderness of the joints.
  • Muscle conditioning for athletes, specifically long-distance runners
  • Muscular injuries from traumatic accidents or various diseases.
  • Neuritis, which is nerve inflammation caused by injuries, infections, or autoimmune diseases.
  • Poor muscle strength caused by neuromuscular disorders such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Muscle weakness can also be caused by autoimmune diseases like Graves’ disease, myasthenia gravis, and Guillain-Barre syndrome.
  • Urinary incontinence from previous childbirth, menopause, prostate cancer, or neurological disorders.
  • Spinal cord injuries from traumatic accidents, sports-related accidents, or diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis.
  • Stroke rehabilitation in the hope that survivors will regain motor function.
  • Surgery recovery.

What is TENS good for?

TENS can potentially reduce pain and discomfort for these conditions:

  • Arthritis.
  • Back or neck pain.
  • Bursitis, which is the inflammation of the bursae sacs that cushion the bones, muscles, and tendons near your joints.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome, which is when the nerve that runs from the forearm into the palm of your hand (median nerve) becomes pinched at the wrist and causes pain as a result.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Foot and toe issues, such as osteoarthritis, plantar fasciitis, bunions, hammer toes, sore arches, etc.
  • Multiple sclerosis, which is when the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves.
  • Tendinitis, which is when one or more tendons are inflamed.

How much does ESTIM Cost?

The cost depends on your condition, the facility you go to, and whether or not you do ESTIM at home. Many physical therapy centers accept insurance, making the treatment affordable for most people. The Pain Relief Center in Dallas accepts Humana, UMR, United Healthcare, Workers Comp, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, and Coventry Health Care. However, the severity of your condition will also impact insurance coverage. Our therapy specialists will be happy to discuss the cost of ESTIM before you begin your treatment.

However, some people prefer to do ESTIM at home by buying their own machines. ESTIM machines start at $20 for simple units and can cost up to $1,000 for larger, more complicated units.

Is ESTIM Harmful?

The most common side effect from ESTIM is skin irritation from the electrodes.

ESTIM is also potentially harmful for people who use pacemakers or other heart devices. The electrical current could be dangerous because it can lead to pacemaker malfunctions. If that happens, then the device could fail to detect arrhythmias or even misinterpret the electrical currents as a shockable arrhythmia.

ESTIM could also be dangerous for pregnant women. However, undergoing the treatment under a doctor’s supervision could relieve labor pains.

ESTIM Alternatives

Maybe you’ve tried ESTIM for your chronic pain or muscle recovery and it wasn’t effective. If that’s the case, there are plenty of other treatments you can try to get relief. One of our wellness specialists in Plano may offer these alternatives:

  • Muscle-strengthening exercises using weights, bands, machines, and body weight
  • Massages
  • Range-of-motion exercises
  • Stretching and flexibility exercises
  • Using ice and heat

Contact The Pain Relief Center of Dallas

In conclusion, your first step to a pain-free life is finding a Plano pain management doctor at The Pain Relief Center. Call us today at 214-709-1904 for an appointment, and your pain will end here.


The most critical step on the path to recovery is finding a pain management doctor who can address your pain management needs successfully. The Pain Relief Center and its five specialized institutes are dedicated to meeting any and all of a patient’s needs. Located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Dr. Rodriguez and his friendly staff will help you along the path to recovery.

Our new center in Dallas is part of a nationwide development by Pain Relief Centers, geared to providing individualized and comprehensive healing and pain management services with unprecedented levels of compassion, care, and comfort for each patient.

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