Electro-Physical Therapy and Modalities
There are a number of methods of pain reduction available to those suffering from a physical injury. For a short term solution for pain or swelling reduction that can assist in the introduction of other long term solutions (exercise prescription, manual therapy), physiotherapists use electrotherapy and other modalities. While each method differs from one another when it comes to which one is best suited to a specific type of injury, one common theme of electrotherapy and local modalities is their use of an energy increase to help with pain reduction and the healing process. The type of energy used varies from electric, to light, magnetic, sonic and heat, depending on the specific method being used. The following are the most common electrotherapy and modalities used, as methods to reduce pain and inflammation while the injury is being healed:
This method is commonly referred to as IFC, and uses low frequency electrical stimulation of the nerves to provide pain relief, stimulate the afflicted muscles, increase blood flow in the area and even reduce the effects of Oedema which causes swelling.
One of the more well-known electrotherapy methods does not in fact use electricity at all in its application. Ultrasound therapy uses mechanical vibrations to produce focused ultrasonic energy that helps reduce pain and inflammation particularly in dense, collagen based tissues like ligaments and tendons.
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation
This method uses electrical impulses to contract targeted muscles in order to strengthen those muscles. In recent years, studies have revealed this treatment to be useful in a number of different applications, including strength training and post exercise recovery for athletes, testing muscular and nerve functions and of course rehabilitation for injured patients.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
Often referred to as TENS, this method also uses electricity to stimulate the opioid system which naturally reduces the amount of pain being received by the nerve endings in the injured area of the body. While this method of treatment works for people suffering from chronic pain, it has been shown to be ideal when treating acute pain.
Hot and Cold Application
The simple application of a hot or cold compress can help reduce pain and swelling, as well as increase the natural healing process in the body. In order to decrease blood flow to an injury and therefore reduce painful swelling and inflammation, a cold compress should be applied to an acute injury. The sooner this is done so, the better. When pain from an injury continues to occur, applying a hot compress will increase the blood flow to the injury, and speed up the healing process.