Energy based therapy, referred to as electrotherapy in the UK, is a form of treatment that uses different electric currents or impulses to stimulate the nervous system. The electric impulses can help ease pain and promote healing. Energy based therapies do not hurt, although with some types, such as TENS, you may feel a slight tingling sensation just below the surface of your skin. Energy based therapies include:
- TENS - a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine delivers an electric current to stop your nerves sending pain signals to your brain and encourages endorphins (natural painkilling hormones) to be released.
- Interferential - The basic principle of IFT is to use physiological effects of low frequency (at <250 pps) electrical stimulation of nerves without the associated painful and somewhat unpleasant side effects sometimes associated with low-frequency stimulation.
- Ultrasound - high-frequency sound waves treat deep tissue injuries by stimulating blood circulation and cell activity. It is thought to help reduce pain and muscle spasm and speed up the healing process. Can also be used in fracture healing and breaking down haematomas or blocked ducts in mastitis.
- Laser therapy - lasers (narrow beams of light) help reduce pain and muscle spasms. Laser therapy is thought to be most effective at treating tendon conditions, although studies have shown that it may not be as effective as other types of energy based therapies such as extra corporeal shockwave.
- Shortwave diathermy - an electromagnetic field generates heat within your body’s tissues. This is thought to help reduce inflammation (swelling), strengthen tissues and reduce pain.
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