What is Electrotherapy?
Electrotherapy is the application of electric current to the body to reduce pain and/or speed up the healing process. There are many different types electrotherapies, the two that I use in the clinic are TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) and IF (Interferential Stimulation).
TENS is a therapy that uses low voltage electrical current for pain relief. The machine is connected to the area of pain via electrodes which are placed on the skin. TENS works using the pain gate theory. Put simply, we feel pain when pain receptors in our body are stimulated and a pain signal is sent along certain types of nerve fibres (A-delta and C) to the spinal cord. In the spinal cord the nerve fibres encounter a gate-like mechanism that opens and closes to allow or prevent signals from then travelling on to the brain. If the so-called ‘gate’ is open, the pain signal travels on to the brain, where the pain is registered and so we perceive the pain. It is thought that the electrical current from a TENS
machine stimulates a different type of nerve fibre (called A-beta) that carries signals relating to touch. The signals from the A-beta fibres travel to the spinal cord where they temporarily block the transmission of pain sensations to the brain – this is analogous to the ‘gate’ being closed - and so the body does not experience pain.
There is also a portable TENS device that can be worn when on the move. If need arises you can borrow one from the clinic until the pain decreases.