What is Electrotherapy and How Does It Work?
Electrotherapy is the application of electric stimulation to accomplish therapeutic purposes, such as to reduce pain, improve circulation, repair tissues, strengthen muscles, and promote bone growth, leading to improvements in physical functioning.
Electrotherapy provides a wide array of treatments that involve electricity used as a therapeutic means to aid heal the body. It is primarily the utilisation of an electrical current to stimulate nerves and muscles through the skin in order to ascertain the measure of pain relief. Physiotherapists, as well as cardiologists, use electrotherapy to improve the quality of life through pain management as the procedure stimulates muscles and nerves to improve function, and has the therapeutic benefit of relaxing tissues to bring about the alleviation of pain.
Electrotherapy is typically used as an ancillary with other treatments, rather than by itself. For patients undergoing a physiotherapy treatment plan, electrotherapy may reduce pain adequately for the patient to participate more actively in targeted exercises. Electrotherapy is also used among pain relief options. It is now getting so much attention as the potential adverse effects as well as risks narcotic medications have become more apparent in recent years.
The utilisation of electrotherapy dates back to ancient times. In fact, the growing benefits of electrotherapy have been used to address:
- Anxiety and Depression
- Chronic Fatigue in General
- Chronic Pain
- Wound Healing
- Diabetic Nerve Pain
- Migraine Headaches
- Stimulating Bone Growth
In general, all electrotherapy unit devices have some similarities, such as powered by a battery to apply electric current to electrodes. Electrotherapy can take various forms, but the most common type is Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, which stands for electric stimulation for tissue repair. Some other names you will read in the literature that are associated with electrotherapy are Percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS), Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), Interferential current (IFC), Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF), and Galvanic stimulation (GS).
All of these forms of electrotherapy but with various configuration and various intensities of the electric current, as well as frequencies, waveforms, and effects. Many medical supplies providers, such as Emech Medical Supplies, distribute newer electrotherapy devices which are highly effective and efficient in helping medical experts in alleviating pain. As of now, there are electrotherapy devices bypass the wires, combining electrodes and battery power into a single unit that can be worn modestly on the back, leg, arm or elsewhere during work or other activities, whereby a handheld controller is utilised to regulate the level of stimulation.
How Does Electrotherapy Work?
Electrotherapy is usually performed by using a battery-powered device linked by wires to adhesive electrode pads which are placed on the skin. The electrode pads are sticky, so they will attach to the skin. Once the electrodes are attached and the device is turned on, a mild electric current is sent to the skin via the electrode.
In its simplest form, electricity is like what you see in a battery where there is a collection of electrons that are negatively charged on the negative pole of the battery and lack of electrons on the positive side. Basically, once you connect those two polls with a battery, the electricity or the electric current will flow from one end of the battery to the other.
If somehow we can connect this electric current to human tissue, we will see some physical manifestations of that based on the physiological effect that this electric current does to the human tissue. If it only works in that simplicity, it will be really easy but it does not so that’s why the placement of the electrodes, the size of the electrodes and how many electrodes you use and how much electric current you need is the reason why you need to basically get more training on electrotherapy to produce that desired effect. Hence, it is important to take note seriously the placement and the size of the electrodes and the different types of electric character and the frequency of the current.
In properly placing electrodes, there is a rule called smoke over fire. Here, there is a red electrode which is positively charged and the black one which is negatively charged. It is important to remember that the red one go distal and the negative one will go proximal and this is closer to the elbow. This smoke over fire configuration always works except of course in the quads in the lower extremity it’s reversed.
The size of the electrode likewise matters in efficiently executing the process. The sizes of the electrodes could be 2 inches by 2 inches (2×2) or 2 inches by 4 inches (2×4) circular oval. There is a much bigger electrode and there are much smaller electrodes, too. Usually, the very smaller electrodes are commonly used by speech therapists for what is called as white of stem vital stimulation and they’re usually placed on the neck area to facilitate the swallowing muscles in the mouth and in the neck area.
The size of the electrode matters when it comes to electrotherapy as the smaller the electrode, the more intensity the client will feel and the smaller the electrode, the more the electric impulse or current will be felt by the client. For instance, if you have a one by one electrode and you have another four by four electrode and they are both running the same electric current on the same area of the forearm, the patient will feel way more intensity of the electric current and it will be more concentrated in the four by four and less concentrated in the one by one. This scenario emphasizes the need to know what size of electrode you use.
Electrotherapy is scientifically proven as being a useful method to reduce both pain and swelling while improving healing results for varied patient groups.
Electrotherapy helps physiotherapists and cardiologists the capacity to non-invasively cure many health issues without complications or adverse effects. With the advent of advanced technology, portable electrotherapy units are now available to assist patients in home and office settings in order to allow them access on a therapeutic alternative to conventional oral pain medications.
Indeed, electrotherapy is one of the most powerful modality nowadays as its benefits are far-reaching when it comes to pain reduction and in healing other health issues.