Electrotherapy is the use of electrical currents to produce therapeutic effects on the body. Believe it or not, electrotherapy has been used since the 1800’s to treat various medical conditions. This method of treatment has been proven useful for pain management, muscle stimulation, reduction of swelling, and increased blood flow.
What Are The Different Types of Electrotherapy and How Do They Work?
The most common form of electrotherapy is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). Tiny impulses are sent through the skin to nerves via electrodes which alters your perception of pain. Pain is simply a message sent from an injured area of the body through the spinal cord up to the brain. TENS helps alleviate pain by interfering with these signals before they reach the brain and can be processed. TENS can also stimulate the production of endorphins that yield an analgesic effect in the body. Lower and more uncomfortable frequencies will provide pain relief longer than high frequencies. The lower the frequency, the deeper the current is being penetrated through the skin, thus resulting in more discomfort during use with prolonged relief from symptoms. Interferential Current Therapy (IFC/IFT) is another form of electrical stimulation commonly used by clinicians. IFC and TENS use the same mechanisms to relieve pain, however IFC is more effective in increasing circulation and reducing swelling. The IFC currents are set up in a crisscross pattern and operate on lower frequencies with the comfort sensation of high frequencies. Since patients are able to tolerate lower frequencies under this setting, the current can reach deeper tissues beneath the skin.
Why Use Electrotherapy for Pain Relief?
One of the biggest advantages of using electrotherapy is that it’s a great non-invasive way to manage pain that is drug free. Electrotherapy also has very few side effects in comparison to analgesic drugs and is considered to be non-addictive. TENS units are often given to patients for convenient at-home treatment of chronic conditions. Patients can adjust settings to their desired intensity and address chronic or acute pain.
Golden. "Difference Between TENS and IFC." DifferenceBetween.net. July 29, 2011 < http://www.differencebetween.net/science/health/difference-between-tens-and-ifc/ >