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Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) Following Knee Injury/Surgery

By Andrew Broderick PT, DPT, CSCS

Howard Head Sports Medicine

Knee Injury

Quadriceps Inhibition Following Knee Surgery or Injury

Following knee joint surgery or injury, it can be difficult to regain that “normal” feeling within your knee joint. One of the most important aspects of recovery following knee joint surgery and return to sport (or activity) is your quadriceps strength – your quadriceps muscle helps decelerate your body with activities of daily living such as walking, navigating stairs, or getting in and out of a car. Your quadriceps also helps control the load going through your knee with higher level activities such as with running, jumping, skiing, etc.

What causes your quadriceps to be weak?

Joint swelling, tissue damage (i.e. torn ligament), pain, and a number of other factors all decrease our ability to activate our quadriceps muscle – our brain has a hard time recruiting the muscle, and over time it’s difficult to regain strength and activation. The bummer? Quadriceps strength is integral to performance with the activities listed above.

What is NMES?

NMES stands for Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation. There are units (for clinic and take-home use) that can help with the recovery of your quadriceps muscle. It plays two important roles: 1) there is an electrical stimulation of the muscle tissue to help contract and maintain/increase strength at cellular level 2) you feel a sensation, and this has the potential to influence our brain’s ability to contract our quadriceps muscle.

When to use NMES?

After any knee joint surgery OR if you have an injury that doesn’t allow you to load your knee joint as much as you would otherwise like to.

Don’t allow a knee injury to keep you from staying active this winter – visit us at Howard Head Sports Medicine across from the Spa or call at 970.845.9600 to schedule an appointment.


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