Electrical Current As Pain Management
Electricity, the natural force that Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla engaged in a bitter rivalry over due to differing
theories, is quite a subject of human fascination. Like magnetism, many charlatans of the late 19th and early 20th centuries
claimed to have developed devices that could do everything from increase breast sizes, to curing illnesses like tuberculosis.
For the most part, these claims were fraudulent. However, recent evidence is starting to suggest that at least one claim of
these clever tricksters was not entirely false in nature. In the same way that testing is being conducted to determine what
effects magnetic fields have on pain management, some are theorizing that the closely-related force of electricity might also
yield benefits for relieving acute and chronic pain.
There is still quite a bit of controversy surrounding the supposed effects of electricity in the area of pain management, as
well as a heated debate over whether or not it has any effects at all. Still, some scientists have found the idea plausible,
largely due to the data obtained from testing conducted with magnetism. Magnetism and electricity have always been closely
related by science, so some find it reasonable to try and discern if electrical currents, properly conducted through the
body, can achieve effects similar to exposure to a magnetic field. The effect of causing pain is widely known, with death by
electric shock being among the many ways that Hollywood killers dispatch of their victims. However, the main interest of the
current generation of researchers lies in whether or not electrical current can dull the sensation of pain.
It is no secret that a small amount of electrical current travels through the human body, though only recently has it been
found that electrical stimulation of the brain can induce the release of endorphins, chemicals which can dull the pain
sensation. Naturally, the current has to be precisely applied and controlled, largely due to the risks of disrupting the
delicate balance of the brain. Others believe that the current itself can be used to directly fight pain, such as by
hindering or blocking pain signals from the brain to the body. Market-available devices that use this method, which are
largely used for back pain management, with adjustable settings to increase or decrease the current as the patient sees fit.
A more intense version of devices such as this has been developed, but require being implanted deeper under the skin.
The above examples apply alternating current in relieving pain. Another method, known as galvanic stimulation, applies direct
current, and often finds use in treating muscle injuries or cases with major trauma to bodily tissues. The afflicted areas
where galvanic stimulation is applied generally have experienced bleeding or swelling due to the injury. The direct current
is believed to generate an electrical field in the afflicted area, which is maintained by both positive and negative
electrical pads. In theory, the positive electrical pads reduce the flow of blood to the afflicted area to relieve swelling
and pain, similar to how ice packs work. In contrast, the negative pads are believed to increase circulation and,
theoretically, stimulate the healing process. Instructions for their appropriate use come with the pads themselves, though
patients may also inquire about their use with their doctors.