Electrotherapy is a particular form of physiotherapy treatment used to repair tissues, reduce pain, stimulate muscles, improve sensation and build muscle strength. Patients often recall electrotherapy as the physiotherapist’s use of “machines” as part of their treatment.
There are several different forms of electrotherapy available to physiotherapist, including ultrasound, Interferential therapy, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), Laser and electrical muscle stimulation (EMS).
- Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to facilitate the body’s natural healing process.
- Interferential and TENS treatments involve introducing electrical impulses into the body via electrodes. This is done with the intent of reducing pain by directly stimulating nerves in the targeted area and will be felt as a tingling sensation by the patient. In the case of Interferential therapy, the electrical impulses can also promote cellular healing.
- Laser therapy is a form of phototherapy which involves the application of monochromatic light over tissues to elicit stimulatory or inhibitive reactions within these tissues.
- EMS is the use of electrical impulses to stimulate motor nerves and, subsequently, muscle contractions. This can be of assistance where there is obvious muscle wasting and weakness or in more extreme cases such motor nerve injuries.
Electrotherapy modalities are often used as an adjunct to manual therapy. Combined with the latter, the combined treatment more effective than each on its own. Ask your physiotherapist today whether electrotherapy can be of benefit to you.