Your physiotherapist might recommend electrotherapy as a treatment option as an additional tool to your rehabilitation and recovery. Using gentle and non-invasive devices designed to deliver customised levels of electrical stimulation to your body’s nerves, muscles, or tendons, your physiotherapist can harness the power of electrotherapy to treat injuries, promote healing, and offer pain relief.

Though it varies based on which device your physiotherapist uses, electrotherapy works in a variety of ways:

  • Send out electrical impulses that block or interfere with the body’s pain signals, leading to reduced pain.
  • Help release endorphins (chemical messengers) that naturally decrease pain in the body.
  • Stimulate muscle tissue to contract or to relax and can further be used to strengthen in such a way it can reduce atrophy.
  • Create a warm heated effect within the body which improves circulation and stimulates healing.

 

Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)

What is it?

A form of electrotherapy, EMS stimulates muscle contractions using electrical impulses that can influence your peripheral nerves to produce a muscle contraction. It is generated using a device and the use of electrode pads that can be placed on the belly area of a muscle. These electrical impulses mimic the stimuli, from your central nervous system, needed to make a muscle contract.

Uses and benefits of this modality include:

  • Pain relief.
  • Promote tissue healing after injury such as strains and tears.
  • Increase muscle strength after hospital or injury acquired muscle wasting.
  • Regaining and maintaining muscle activity that might have been lost during surgery or after suffering a neurological injury such as stroke.

 

Interferential Therapy

What is it?

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Interferential therapy is widely used by physiotherapists. Interferential therapy devices apply two different frequencies that interfere with one another to produce a medium frequency current within the tissues. The new medium frequency can then be used to either stimulate muscle contraction (when the frequency is low) or achieve pain relief (when the frequency is higher).

Uses and benefits of interferential therapy include:

  • Acute lower back injuries or acute peripheral injuries.
  • Chronic pain: Lower back pain and sciatica.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Swelling following acute injuries such as ankle sprains and muscle strains by increasing local blood flow.
  • Muscle weakness post-operatively or post-injury.
  • Safe use within osteoarthritic conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Laser

What is it?
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Low level laser therapy involves using an infra-red light which penetrates the skin and stimulates the cells within muscles, tendons or ligaments, promoting healing. It is a non-invasive form of electrotherapy where the amount of low-level energy used is controlled by the physiotherapist. Further, it is also a safe alternative to pain medication and can reduce healing time

 

Uses and benefit of laser therapy includes:

  • Soft tissue injury repair.
  • Repetitive stress injuries such as inflamed and irritated tendons, inflamed bursa and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Arthritic conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Tissue repair following burns and ulcers. Very effective in the management of scar tissue and increase of extensibility of scars.
  • Temporomandibular disorder or more commonly known as TMJ dysfunction which is inflammation of the TMJ. Laser can also be used after wisdom teeth removal to speed up recovery time and tissue repair.
  • Treatment of Sinusitis.
  • Used within women’s health related conditions such as the treatment of painful and cracked nipples after constant breastfeeding. Can also be used to unblock milk ducts to stimulate production of breast milk.

 

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

What is it?
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TENS is a method of electrical stimulation which aims to provide pain relief by stimulating the sensory nerves and modulating pain. It is non-invasive and a safe method to help with pain relief. The frequency, intensity and duration of TENS can be customized and personalised to control your pain.

 

Depending on the frequency your physiotherapist uses, different treatment options can be decided. Using a high frequency, TENS stimulates certain nerve fibres to send signals to the brain that block other nerve signals carrying pain messages. If a low frequency is used, TENS can promote endorphins release which are your body’s natural pain-relieving hormones.

Uses and benefits of TENS:

  • Relief of Acute pain i.e. sports injuries, acute low back pain and joint pain.
  • Management of Chronic pain – such as low back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral nerve injuries and phantom limb pain.
  • Can also be used as an alternative to medication and designed so that you can move around with it working.

 

Therapeutic Ultrasound

What is it?
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An ultrasound machine creates mechanical sound waves that produce energy, which when they enter the skin cause micro vibrations in the cells improving tissue healing and reducing pain. All effects of ultrasound happen at a cellular level.  During ultrasound treatment an ultrasound head is placed onto the affected area using specialised gel, which ensures maximum contact between the head and the skin, and slowly moved.

Ultrasound is effective in speeding up the rate of healing, enhance the quality of repair and increase the strength of the soft tissue. Ligaments, tendons and fascia contains collagen fibres and absorbs ultrasound very effectively.

Benefits and uses of ultrasound:

  • Increase blood flow to the injured area to start rapid healing and promote tissue healing post-acute injury.
  • Can be used for inflamed or irritated bursa.
  • Ultrasound can also improve the way collagen is laid down when tissue is trying to repair itself and therefore increase strength and enhance scar mobility.
  • Swelling following acute injuries such as ankle sprains and muscle strains by increasing local blood flow.
  • Decrease pain.
  • Ultrasound can also be used in the treatment of mastitis in lactating women..