As an Amazon Associate an affiliate of several companies, earns from qualifying purchases.

Neuromuscular Electric Stimulation (NMES) Definition


Neuromuscular Electric Stimulation (NMES) is a therapeutic devices that uses electricity to cause muscles to contract.

Applying NMES therapy re-trains muscles after dis-use, as muscle contraction is a primary component of movement.

NMES devices are available to consumers. Physiotherapists use professional versions in practice.

NMES has already been shown to be useful in treating:

  • acute or chronic/upper or lower extremity stroke symptoms
  • anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (knee injury)
  • patellofemoral pain syndrome (kneecap pain)
  • knee osteoarthritis
  • total knee arthroplasty (replacement)
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • CHF (congestive heart failure)
  • muscle atrophy
  • spinal cord injury
  • brain injury
  • multiple sclerosis
  • cerebral palsy

12.5 Hz is the lowest frequency at which NMES a therapeutic muscle response. As the frequency increases, the muscle contractions increase. The contractions fatigue the affected muscles.

Ideal frequencies change depending on the body part being treated. Devices deliver from 12 Hz to 50 Hz.

  • Upper Limb: 12-16 Hz
  • Lower Limb: 18-25 Hz

Consumer and clinical NMES devices use skin pads to deliver the current. There are also several types of implantable NMES devices to delivery continuous therapy to muscles and nerves.


Return to the EMF Glossary page.

Photo Credit