The use of tiny electrical currents sent to injured cells to promote healing and pain relief is called microcurrent therapy. Microcurrent flows at one millionth of an amp with a limit of 8 micro amps, much lower than a TENS unit. The amount of current delivered by microcurrent therapy simulates natural physiologic current in cells.
This type of therapy is used to stimulate cellular response towards repair of damaged and painful tissue. It is an FDA approved device that has been used for skin treatment, dental problems, low-back pain, tendonitis and other inflammatory conditions.
How Does Microcurrent Therapy Work?
Electrical current has been used to treat medical ailments since the early 1900’s, but declined in popularity when the American Medical Association declared electromagnetic therapies unscientific in 1934. In the 1990’s research in using electrical current increased and since then many studies have investigated the use of microcurrent therapy.
Microcurrent increases adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, production in cells during treatment. Since cellular ATP helps with protein synthesis and healing, it is believed that microcurrent therapy speeds healing and recovery. Also, it is believed that natural cellular current is disrupted during injury and microcurrent realignment is needed to aid tissue repair. Microcurrent therapy is generally not used as a treatment, but as a method to alleviate pain associated with particular conditions.
One of the first supported uses of microcurrent therapy was for sciatica caused by disc injuries. Later, studies using microcurrent therapy for back pain in 2004, 2005 and 2009 support its use. Carolyn R. McMakin observed inflammatory protein response and microcurrent therapy for pain associated with spinal trauma and low-back myofascial pain in the “Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies” 2004 and 2005. Both studies showed decreased pain scores with microcurrent therapy. Recently, in a 2009 study by J.S. Koopman published in the “Clinical Journal of Pain”, microcurrent therapy showed a positive trend towards its use in aleviating chronic low-back pain.
Many athletes experience inflammation of tendons, or tendonitis. Tendons connect bone to muscle and receive a large amount of mechanical strain during exercise. Elbow, heal and knee pain from tendonitis is common. Microcurrent therapy has been used in treating Achilles tendonitis, tennis elbow and knee pain. Therapy for tendonitis by R. Aliyev and L. Poltawski in the “Georgian Medical News” and “Physiotherapy Research International” respectively, has shown reduction of pain from microcurrent therapy in both tennis elbow and Achilles pain.
Dental pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, such as periodontitis, teeth grinding and temporomandibular joint disease. Microcurrent therapy has recently been used for decreasing dental pain in these suffering individuals. Jaw pain was reduced by microcurrent therapy in research by Bharat Rajpurohit in the “Indian Journal of Dental Research” published in 2010. Also, pain from chronic periodontis treatment was reduced by using microcurrent researched by I. Puhar and published in the “Journal of Periodontal Implant Science” for June 2011. Microcurrent therapy may be useful in a variety of dental procedures or conditions that cause pain.
Other Clinical Uses
Data by Michael I. Lambert published in “Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise” suggests that microcurrent therapy can reduce pain for patients experiencing muscle damage. They also measured reduced inflammatory protein markers in the blood of these patients. In the area of skin care, microcurrent therapy has been used to increase blood flow, decrease muscular spasms, prevent muscular degeneration and treat varicose veins. For others it is used to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness after exercise and decrease pain in those who suffer from fibromyalgia. Microcurrent therapy can be used to reduce pain in a variety of medical conditions.
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