About Electrotherapy

Are you concerned about taking pain relief medication because of possible side effects and health risks? Consider electrotherapy, a non-invasive pain relief technology that has been used in clinical settings for many years.

What is Electrotherapy?

Electrotherapy is a physical therapeutic treatment whereby electrical stimulation is applied to nerves and muscle-motor fibres via electro-pads placed on the skin . There are different types of electrotherapeutic devices in rehabilitation clinics today, with T.E.N.S. being one of the most popular options. Electrotherapeutic programs, utilizing prescribed variations in electrical frequencies and intensities, serve to interrupt, alter or induce specific electrical impulses in order to affect the perception of pain and/or facilitate wound healing and muscle rehabilitation . These effects are achieved by:

  • reducing localized inflammation
  • increasing blood flow
  • stimulating muscles
  • triggering the release of endorphins, hormones that act as the body's natural analgesic

Ultrasound Therapy

The utilization of ultrasound has been a 20th century phenomenon. In addition to its use by the military to detect submarines, it was also used in the 1930's for emulsification, and atomization of particles in a gas. Since then, ultrasound has been used therapeutically for its effects of cavitation, stable and unstable bubble formation, and a phenomenon called acoustic streaming or microstreaming.

Ultrasound is used to:

  • break up scar tissue and adhesions
  • reduce inflammation, swelling and calcium deposits
  • create a deep heat to a localized area to ease muscle spasms (much deeper than can be achieved with a hot pack - up to 5 cm)
  • increase soft tissue extensibility prior to stretching and exercise
  • facilitate healing at the cellular level
  • speeds metabolism and improves blood flow
  • reduces nerve root irritation
  • at low intensities can speed bone healing
  • enhance transcutaneous drug delivery by phonophoresis

The main piece of equipment is a high-frequency generator, which provides an electrical current through a cable to a transducer which contains a piezoelectric crystal. This crystal when exposed to the current will vibrate at a given frequency, expanding and contracting, which produces the necessary compression wave. By using a different frequency the therapist can target tissues at different depths for either healing or destruction, or simply use the device to reduce pain. Although simple in principle, the use of ultrasound as a therapeutic modality requires a comprehensive understanding of its effects on the body tissues and of the physical mechanisms by which its effects are produced. The lower the frequency used, the deeper is the penetration of the waves into the body.