Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is widely used around the world for a variety of painful conditions such as; • Arthritis • Low back pain • Labour pain • Nerve related pain such as phantom pain.
A small electrical device delivers electrical impulses across the skin. Lightweight versions not much bigger than a credit card are available these days. This can be clipped to your jeans or placed in your pocket. The device is connected by wires to sticky pad electrodes, which are placed on the skin in the area of the pain. This allows a small, low-intensity electric charge to be passed across the area. Unlike many pain-relieving drugs, TENS isn’t addictive and has few side-effects. Most people can use a TENS machine but it is unsuitable for: -Epileptics.
• Patients with pacemakers and certain other types of heart disease.
• Unknown causes of pain.
• Certain body sites in pregnancy (other than in labour)
• Certain skin conditions
Interferential Therapy Here at The Physio Company we also use an electrotherapy modality called interferential therapy (IFT). It is essentially a deeper form of TENS. It utilises two high frequency currents which are slightly out of phase, and are passed through the skin at the same time where they are set up so that their paths cross and simply interfere with each other. This interference gives way to a beat frequency which has the characteristics of low frequency stimulation deep under the skin.
It is administered by a physiotherapist and involves the placement of damp sponges on the body which deliver a mild current similar to the sensation of pins and needles. Manipulation of the current allows the physiotherapist to target the correct structure and to treat.
There are 4 main clinical applications for which IFT has been found to be effective:
• Pain relief (in a similar fashion to TENS)
• Muscle stimulation – prevent muscle wastage, re-education, maintain range of motion
• Increased local blood flow
• Reduction of oedema.
Stimulating Soft Tissue Healing & Repair In acute conditions, shorter treatment times of 5-10 minutes may be sufficient to achieve the effect. In other circumstances, it may be necessary to stimulate the tissues for 20-30 minutes. It is suggested that short treatment times are initially adopted especially with the acute case.
Electrotherapy is used as an adjunct to traditional physiotherapy treatments. TENS units are available for sale or hire from The Physio Company and our physiotherapists can give guidance on the correct programmes for use dependent on your condition. Many of our physiotherapists will recommend the use of Electrotherapy in the provision of their treatments.
If you would like to book an appointment, please contact us today! Not all patients will need to get Electrotherapy and this will be advised by the physiotherapist during the initial consultation.