Using Microcurrent Therapy for Pain Relief

Our body works endlessly to keep up with our daily demands. From getting out of bed in the morning to sprinting up a hill, we put bones, ligaments, and muscles to the test, each and every day.

Sometimes our body experiences pain and discomfort as a result. Maybe deadlifts at the gym lead to back pain, or a sports injury causes chronic pain that you can’t seem to shake. To treat these aches and pains, we can employ a wide variety of techniques and treatments — from general stretching to physical therapy and beyond.

One form of treatment to alleviate pain and promote healing is microcurrent therapy. Used to treat a wide variety of injuries, microcurrent therapy will apply electrical currents to specific parts of the body to help tissues heal faster while providing pain relief along the way. Let’s take a deeper look at this form of pain management to see what the buzz is all about.

How Does Microcurrent Therapy Work?

Also known as electrotherapy or microcurrent stimulation, microcurrent therapy uses electrical energy to help reduce pain, repair tissue, strengthen muscles, promote bone growth, and more. But how exactly does it work?

Believe it or not, your body is a conductor of electricity that produces an electrical charge of its own. Cells conduct electrical currents to communicate with one another, and your nervous system uses electricity to send signals throughout your body and brain. These signals allow us to move, think, and feel.

When your body suffers from an injury, this necessary signaling is disrupted or hindered. Without the proper signals between cells, your body can’t operate efficiently.

Microcurrent therapy aims to restore the electromagnetic communication between cells in order to promote healing and provide relief from muscle pain or joint pain. Additionally, microcurrent therapy is used in spas for its anti-aging properties to contour, tone, and firm aging skin, often on the face.

Using microcurrent therapy to increase cellular communication helps stimulate your body’s production of ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, in the injured tissue. ATP is the body’s primary source of energy that allows cellular interactions to take place. Microcurrent therapy works to increase ATP production by as much as 500% in damaged tissue — an increase that can help with the recovery process.

Microcurrent Therapy vs. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation

Microcurrent therapy is often confused with a different form of electrical therapy known as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS for short. While TENS uses mild shocks that you can feel under the skin, microcurrent therapy uses electrical currents that are extremely weak, so you won’t feel a thing. TENS offers short-term relief from pain and inflammation, while microcurrent therapy offers long-term relief and healing properties.

What Conditions Can Be Treated With Microcurrent Therapy?

Microcurrent therapy: a woman sitting at a desk holds her shoulder in pain

Microcurrent treatment has the ability to treat a wide variety of issues, but it is often used to treat nerve and muscle pain, or reduce scar tissue and inflammation due to the following conditions.

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial pain
  • Arthritis
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Sprains
  • ​Concussions
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Headaches
  • Burns
  • Asthma
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Low back pain
  • Disc injuries

How Is Microcurrent Therapy Administered?

The microcurrent therapy application process is simple. First, a therapist applies a moistened towel or self-adhesive electrodes to the affected area. Then he or she sets frequencies on the microcurrent device that correlate with the condition being treated. This process is referred to as frequency-specific microcurrent therapy, as the frequencies will change depending on what the injury is and where it is on the body.

Once the therapy is applied to the skin, electric currents will act as a stimulator to help repair damaged tissue and provide pain relief. Be sure you’re well-hydrated before receiving microcurrent treatment in any form, as this further promotes electrical stimulation. Your cells are composed largely of water, and well-hydrated cells will better conduct the electrical current with one another.

If you’re receiving a microcurrent facial, two metal prongs will mildly shock the face in specific locations. Though this process may sound intense, it’s both safe and FDA-approved.

Is Microcurrent Stimulation Painful?

Treatment with microcurrent stimulation is a noninvasive, injection-free procedure that’s generally painless. The electrical currents used to treat injuries are administered in doses so low that the patient rarely feels them. The only effects you may notice include a warming sensation, tingling, or softening of affected tissues.

How Long Do the Effects Last?

The effects of microcurrent therapy, including pain relief, can last for several days or longer depending on the injury being treated. For acute injuries, lasting pain relief can be achieved, though multiple sessions of therapy may be necessary.

The Benefits of Microcurrent Therapy

As you may have guessed, microcurrent therapy can be used to treat many things. From sports injuries to wounds to sagging skin, it’s a healthy form of therapy with lasting benefits. Microcurrent therapy can:

  • Reduce neck, joint, hip, and back pain
  • Heal tendons
  • Reduce muscular degeneration
  • Lessen headaches
  • Improve symptoms of diseases like arthritis or fibromyalgia
  • Tone the skin and promote collagen production

The Risks and Side Effects of Microcurrent Therapy

A medical professional applies electrode pads to a patients knee for microcurrent therapy

The risks that come from microcurrent therapy only apply to those who have pacemakers, implanted pumps, uncontrollable seizures, or women who are pregnant.

While low-level electrical currents aren’t dangerous, they can interfere with the body’s electrical signals in those who already suffer from conditions that affect the body’s electrical system, such as epilepsy or multiple sclerosis. Speak with your doctor or a licensed physical therapist before utilizing microcurrent therapy to determine whether it’s right for you.

How Much Does Microcurrent Therapy Cost?

While microcurrent therapy is often covered by your insurance and used in conjunction with other recovery aides, you can also seek this form of therapy on your own. Whether you’re seeking pain relief or simply want a microcurrent facial, microcurrent therapy can cost anywhere from $250 to $500. This depends largely on where you go (some cities such as Los Angeles or New York City will charge higher prices) and what you wish to treat.

Professional Treatment Versus At-Home Devices

If shelling out hundreds of dollars for microcurrent therapy isn’t your cup of tea, at-home devices are available for the price of one or two professional sessions. While these devices are available in abundance for your face, you can also find others that treat your body as well, though these may be more expensive.

And don’t expect the results to come immediately should you choose to purchase your own device. You may need to administer the therapy consistently for 60 days or more before seeing any results should you choose at-home treatment — these personal devices are often weaker than the devices used during professional treatment.

Practical Pain Management With Microcurrent Therapy

Various therapies seek to provide pain relief and healing in some form or another. From pain medications to invasive surgeries, there is much we can do to alleviate injury and pain. Fortunately, treatment options such as microcurrent therapy can provide non-invasive relief and healing.

While administering electrical currents to your body in an effort to promote nerve stimulation may sound intimidating, this lesser-known form of therapy has been used for decades without fail. If you find yourself suffering from muscle pain, nerve pain, or damage beneath the surface, take some time to determine if microcurrent therapy is right for you.

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