n International SportMed Journal - Microcurrent therapy and the treatment of soft tissue injury : review article




Electrotherapy is a form of rehabilitative treatment where electrical stimulation is used as a form of therapy. Examples of electrotherapy date back to 2500 BC with stone carvings in tombs in ancient Egypt showing patients being treated with catfish capable of producing an electrical charge. Microcurrent therapy, also called "microcurrent electrical neuromuscular stimulation" (MENS) is one of several forms of electrotherapy. A characteristic of microcurrent therapy is that the stimulating current is less than 600 µA and does not cause a contraction in skeletal muscle. Microcurrent therapy presumes the principle that injured tissue produces abnormal electrical potentials, termed "injury potentials" which are associated with a disturbance in homeostasis. In accordance with this theory, microcurrent therapy re-establishes "normal" electrical balance in the tissue and minimizes this disruption, resulting in a more rapid regeneration and return of normal function. Studies have investigated the efficacy of microcurrent therapy treatment on wound healing, and have generally shown that treatment can accelerate the healing process. However, a weakness of many of these studies has been the poor explanation of the treatment modalities, making comparisons between studies difficult. The effect of microcurrent therapy on soft tissue injuries is less well defined. A double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial investigating the efficacy of microcurrent therapy on soft tissue injury showed that treatment of the elbow flexor muscles immediately after the injury, and for four days thereafter reduced the severity of the symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage. The mechanism explaining these effects is not well understood. Further laboratory and clinical trials are needed to explain the mechanism of action and the evidenced-based prescription of microcurrent therapy for tissue injury.


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