View Full Version : Electrotherapy and Me

04-22-2003, 04:09 PM
It always seems that that it's just when I have "most" of the language down that I get bit in the butt--or the back--hard.

Due to a nerve/muscle problem culminating in my hands, my Dr. recommended I get "electrotherapy." I'm still not exactly clear what it is or is supposed to do, but I had my first appt. today. The technician put the little shockers on my back and then 4 large suction cups, each one about the size of a New York bagel. She told me something that I assumed meant there might be some redness for a little while. I didn't think about it again until a few minutes ago when I stripped down to my tank top. DH's jaw dropped (I'm vainly thinking it's all that walking I've been doing...). He took me to a mirror where I have FOUR HUGE patterened suction marks stretching the length of my shoulders and back like a 6-year-old pratcicing with a new stamp pad. Great, just as the weather was FINALLY getting warm.

Sorry, just whining. But as a side note, anyone know anything about this type of therapy?

Paula, Mama to Dante 8/1/02

04-22-2003, 05:06 PM
Paula, what the heck was this? What sort of nerve problem do you have, and what kind of Doctor suggested this?

04-22-2003, 05:50 PM
When I read "electrotherapy" I think "electric stimulation," but what you describe doesn't sound the same. With electric stim, electrodes are placed on the effected muscle and an elecric current causes the muscle to contract. Depending on the amount of current used it can range from confortable to not. I've never heard of the large suction cups before. It's also not something I would expect to be used to treat a nerve disorder unless muscle weakness and atrophy were involved. In short, electrotherapy doesn't sound quite like anything I'm familiar with. There are some P.T.s on the board (Jen a.k.a. megsmom???) who might know what your talking about though. I hope the red bagel-sized marks disappear soon and don't turn into huge bagel-sized hickies.

04-22-2003, 11:07 PM
There are forms of acupuncture that involve placing warmed cups on an accupressure point, instead of piercing it with a fine needle. As the air in the cups cools, it shrinks, and a suction is applied to the area. A friend who is working in China is getting this treatment regularly for bad sciatica, and says it's working wonderfully.

I wonder if this is something related? The only other therapy I can think of that's remotely related is another variation on acupuncture where the needles are inserted in the appropriate points, then a light current is run through them. Another friend had this applied to relieve a chronically seized-up shoulder; the doctor who did it has subsequently used it to relieve pain in terminally ill cancer patients (i.e. real serious pain), as documented in the book "Twelve Weeks in Spring". I've seen it done. The device that administered the current was called a codetron (sp?)

Don't know if that helps at all? I'm no therapist, and I'm looking forward to hearing from the real ones here, but that's what I've heard/seen.



04-24-2003, 02:34 PM
Thanks all for the advice and thoughts. Sorry I haven't responded earlier, but the bruises have morphed into hot spots of pain. Ugh. And typing seems to make it worse.

The nerve problem is called "thoracic outlet syndrome." Basically the nerves send signals to the muscles to contract on a regular basis. This permanent contraction makes the muscles tighten up to the point where I lose some mobility of the neck. It's not as dibilitating as it sounds on a day-to-day basis, but overtime it has gotten to the point where I could no longer hold my own wine glass. And as to the question about what kind of doctor, she is an orthopedist. SHe seems to know her stuff, but the Germans in general, tend to be more willing than mainstream American doctors to try some of the more "alternative" approaches and treatments.

The bruises have faded slightly, but have gotten no less painful. I'm supposed to have another treatment (read: 7 minute torture)tomorrow. Wish me luck, I'm already dreading it. And Kathy, that's interesting about how similar it is to acupuncture. If you talk with your friend and can find out any more info I'd love to hear what she thinks.

Paula,Mama to Dante 8/1/02

04-25-2003, 03:49 PM
One of my best friends has this! He's having good luck with physical therapy and yoga.

Mom to Abigail Rose

04-25-2003, 07:39 PM

Some people get a lot of relief from thorasic outlet with massage. The cause of this series of syndroms is, as I imagine you know, unknown but often releasing tension in the anterior neck (specifically the scalenes) and upper chest (pectoralis major and minor) can often alieviate pain and discomfort. It might be worth seeking out a massage therapist.

I hope today's treatment goes well and doesn't lead to more bruises.

Take care,

04-26-2003, 10:26 PM

I am so sorry to hear that you are going through all of this. When I was pregnant with Katherine, I had constant back spasms that just about killed me. I would double over in pain. After ruling out gall bladder, kidney, liver, etc., I was sent for physical therapy. I went to the rehab hospital where I had recently worked as a speech pathologist. I knew everyone, so I knew what was going on. I had therapy with a tens unit. I had electrodes placed on my back and the stimulus was turned up as high as I could comfortably tolerate it (it felt like a fabulous massage!). I had no bruises or marks on me from these sessions.

How did your 2nd 7 minute torture session go? Did the doctor look at the marks and tell you what happened? I hope you feel better soon and that these bruises go away.

Let us know what happens!

Toni - mom to Katherine (5/19/96) and Andrew (9/23/02)