There are a number of types of electrical therapy. Here at Ford Physiotherapy Clinic we may utilise the following as part of a standard Physiotherapy Session. I am generally of the belief that Physiotherapy is a hands on therapy and should always remain this way to gain a successful treatment outcome. Electrical therapy is utilised as an adjunct to the main treatment. Here’s a little information of what can be used and why it may be used:
Produces sound waves that create a piezoelectric effect by the vibration of crystals inside the ultrasound probe. A ultrasound gel is applied to the surface of the skin which allows the sound waves to pass to either; superficial tissue or deeper to increase bone healing, depending on the frequency setting. Frequency is measured in MHz . If used to increase bone healing at least two weeks must pass following a fracture/ proliferation phase. The overall use of Ultrasound is to increase healing, decrease swelling, relax muscles and reduce pain. It can be used to create heating within the tissue or break up scar tissue adhesions. The most common conditions treated with ultrasound;include soft tissue injuries such as tendonitis, non-acute joint swelling and muscle spasm. Most muscle and ligament injuries can benefit from therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound cannot be used over the abdomen during pregnancy, over metal implants, near a malignancy, acute localised infection, vascular abnormalities. It cannot be used over active epiphyseal regions (growth plates) in children, over the spinal cord in the area of a laminectomy, or over the eyes, skull, or testes. If used to induce healing a course of treatment is usually recommended and carried out every other day 3/7 days per week. This is to enable the desired effect. When used once a week the process of healing is much slower.
This type of waveform delivers a medium frequency current in bursts or alternating pulse waves. It is an effective way to decrease pain and increase muscle strength. It provides deep penetration and intense contraction and stimulates motor nerves. It is used to treat spinal cord injuries and chronic muscular pain conditions.
This is a higher frequency current. Unlike TENSs current, it produces a more comfortable more tolerable form of electrical stimulation. Two frequencies are delivered, one around 4000Hz and the other up to 400Hz. This allows the current to pass through tissue with less resistance. When the currents meat, the difference in hertz creates an interference. It is used to decrease pain, reduces inflammation, decreases muscle spasm and increases blood flow. It can be used post- surgical, post- trauma and in acute or chronic conditions.
This type of electrical current penetrates very deep into the tissue. It can be used to facilitate an increase in wound healing and to decrease muscle spasm.
This type of current is often the preferred use for muscle stimulation. It’s wave form can be used to stimulate an involuntary muscle contraction. Therefore is used to prevent muscle atrophy from disuse and help restore muscle mass.
This is a direct current, which increases blood flow and speeds up healing and recovery. It is used in acute conditions. Galvanic current reacts on sensory nerves and motor nerves.
A light electrical current, that can be used to increase the healing of tissue to aid recovery. Microcurrent utilises micro-size, pulsating current at an microampere, one millionth of an amp, to resonate with the body’s own bio-electrical exchanges that take place at the cellular level. The majority of other types of electrical current stimulation devices (sinusoidal, faradic) bypass cellular activity and focus primarily on tissue, fascia, and muscle. When microcurrent is applied, it triggers impulses to facilitate a chemical reaction to activate the release of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) at the cellular level. Adenosine triphosphate is a high-energy molecule that is in the mitochondria of a cell and is considered the “energy of life.” As adenosine triphosphate is collected and generated into muscle, it may use this energy to ‘communicate’ muscle re-education or other specific attributes from microcurrent.
Microcurrent delivers less than 500 microamperes, is bi-polar, and is considered sub-sensory, implying that the intensity does not cause any visual jolting muscular movement. Sub-sensory activity also implicates that the recipient of the treatment should feel no “sensation.” If sensation is detected, the frequency is set too high and there is an inadequate amount of conductor gel applied or possibly the current is other than microcurrent. Water-based conductor gels should be used with microcurrent and applied evenly and densely to ensure effective conductivity. Microcurrent also facilitates iontophoresis of water-based products into the skin, such as nutritive serums or ampoules. The natural course of Ohm’s Law permits this penetration from one probe to the other, penetrating through the skin, allowing effective product absorption.
This is a common wave form often used as a home device to reduce pain. It omits a low voltage electrical current through the surface of the skin, stimulating the nerves in the area treated. Signals are sent to the brain which either block the pain sensation or stimulates the bodies natural opioid system producing a pain reduction. The type of effect is dependant on the settings and length of time used. TENS can be a very good method to reduce pain without medication. However my personal findings are that if a patient is suffering from nerve type pain ie sciatica they are unable to tolerate TENS.