Electrotherapy uses electrical signals to interfere with the transmission of neural pain signals into the brain.It effectively slows down or distracts the message from the nerve to the brain. From a physiotherapy point of view, affecting one’s ‘Pain Gate’, whether in an acute or chronic pain episode, is crucial area of treatment and electrotherapy is a very useful resource where conventional medicines are not as affective. Electrotherapy can also involve the use of this electric current to speed tissue healing where tissue damage has also occurred.

Electrotherapy is the use of electrical energy as a medical treatment.

The use of electrotherapy has been researched and accepted in the field of rehabilitation.

1. Pain management

2. Treatment of neuromuscular dysfunction

  • Improvement of strength
  • Improvement of motor control
  • Retards muscle atrophy
  • Improves local blood flow

3. Improves range of joint mobility

  • Induces repeated stretching of contracted, shortened soft tissues

4. Tissue repair

  • Enhances microcirculation and protein synthesis to heal wounds
  • Restores integrity of connective and dermal tissues

5. Acute and chronic edema

  • Accelerates absorption rate
  • Affects blood vessel permeability
  • Increases mobility of proteins, blood cells and lymphatic flow

6. Peripheral blood flow

  • Induces arterial, venous and lymphatic flow

7. Iontophoresis

  • Delivery of pharmacological agents

Interferential Therapy

In order to create a physiological reaction a low frequency electrical stimulation of the nerves is used in IFT (Interferential Therapy). Even though low frequency electro treatments are usually linked with pain, however, Interferential Therapy intends to avert the pain as well as the unpleasant side effects. To create increased pain relief and mobility, the tissues and muscles are made to react by rhythmically increasing and decreasing the electric frequency in amplitude. For utmost effectiveness, it should be used with the combination of ultrasound. It can be used to relieve joint stiffness, pains and aches as well as to reduce swelling, speed up the recovery time and enhanced blood flow.



Specifically when it comes to sports injury, one of the most commonly used forms of electrotherapy is ultrasound in the form of sound or mechanical energy. It is used at really high frequencies that are beyond the hearing capabilities of human beings. To increase the flow of blood, lessen joint stiffness and pain relief, the ultrasound wave is applied to the injured body part. To enhance the quality of the repair and amplify the rate of healing, ultrasound is always recommended. Be it tennis elbow or arthritis or any other type of sports injury, ultrasound has always proved to be one of the most promising treatments. The tissues that are more absorbent, ultrasound can treat them more effectively.

TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)

It can be used at both low and high frequencies to relieve the pain in nerves. The treatment is less localized to the injured portion as it focuses specifically on the central nervous system. TENS is generally used to treat neck and back pain, arthritic conditions and injuries of the deep and soft tissues.

The Changing Nature of Electrotherapy

Much as electrotherapy has been a component of physiotherapy practice since the early days, its delivery has changed remarkably and continues to do so. The most popular modalities used these days are in many respects quite dissimilar to those of 60 or more years ago though of course they are based on the same principles. Modern electrotherapy practice needs to be evidence based and used appropriately. Used at the right place, at the right time for the right reason, it has a phenomenal capacity to be effective. Used unwisely, it will either do no good at all or possibly make matters worse – as would be true for any other therapy. The skill of the practitioner using electrotherapy is to make the appropriate clinical decision as to which modality to use and when, and to use the best available evidence when making that decision.
The term “Electrotherapy” in this context is used in the widest sense. Strictly speaking some modalities (Ultrasound and Laser for example) do not strictly fall into an ‘electrotherapy’ grouping (in that they do not deliver an electric current), which is why some authorities prefer the term ‘Electro Physical Agents’ (EPA’s) which would encompass a wider range. The evidence base to support the use of electrotherapy modalities as a component of practice is extensive, despite popular claims that these ‘agents’ lack evidence. There are very few occasions where an electrotherapy modality employed in isolation is the most effective intervention. Used as a part of a package of care, the evidence is strong and supportive.

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