Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
TENS is a small, battery-operated electrical stimulation device that is used to treat a wide range of soft tissue, muscle and nerve injuries or diseases. TENS blocks pain signals to the brain and spinal cord. A single frequency, electrical current is passed through the skin to the deep tissue in order to increase circulation, stimulate peripheral nerve endings and decrease pain. The electrical stimulation also contracts the muscle, helping to strengthen the muscle and improving circulation, which helps with healing.
Electrodes are placed on the skin around the injured area. The electrical impulses generated travel through the skin to the deep tissue where they stimulate nerves, reduce pain and accelerate recovery. The treatment takes mere minutes and usually clients only experience a slight tingling sensation.
IFC (Inferential Current Therapy)
IFC is an electronic device used to stimulate nerve endings in deep tissue in order to reduce swelling, relieve pain, stop muscle spasms, increase blood flow and support healing. IFC is a technology used to treat many muscle, soft tissue and nerve diseases or injuries, such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Back pain
- Circulatory disorders
- Post surgery
- Sports injuries
IFC is similar to TENS, but uses two medium frequencies targeted at a specific point instead of one frequency focused on a larger area. Electrodes are placed on the skin around the injured area. The electrical impulses it generates travel through the skin to the deep tissue where they work on a cellular level to stimulate nerves, reduce pain and accelerate recovery. The treatment takes mere minutes and usually clients only experience a slight tingling sensation.
Laser Light Therapy
Also known as Infrared Light Therapy, laser light therapy promotes tissue repair and natural healing in and around bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. A small machine targets red and near infrared light waves at an injured part of the body. It provides temporary relief of minor muscle aches, pain and stiffness in a joint.
Laser light helps with healing by:
- relieving pain and inflammation
- increasing blood circulation
- stimulating nerve function
- helping to generate new, healthy tissue.
Laser light therapy is commonly used for a wide array of conditions, such as:
- Lower back pain
- Migraine headaches
- Pain relief
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Sprains and strains
Hydrotherapy, also known as aqua therapy, is a program of exercises performed in a pool or body of water designed to help relieve joint pain. Hydrotherapy is often selected by a physical therapist because water buoyancy takes pressure off of the joints at the same time that it allows for resistance training. As a result, the client gains the advantage of strengthening exercises with the least amount of stress on the damaged joint.
The application of ice to an injured area of the body is often an early treatment used to reduce swelling and inflammation. This technique is applied in cases of bone fractures, sprains, strains, pulled muscles or other sports injuries. Ice is applied to the injury for 20 minutes 2-4 times daily until the pain and swelling diminish. The use of cold packs is often used in conjunction with rest, compression and elevation.
The application of moist heat to an injured area is often used in conjuntion with other therapies to relax tight muscles and decrease pain or muscle spasms. Hot packs increase blood circulation, which encourages healing. Physical therapists also use hot packs to relax muscles following therapeutic exercise.
It is important not to apply hot packs initially on an injury that is inflammed or swollen. Use cold packs to reduce inflammation first. Once the swelling has abated, apply hot packs to relax the muscles.
Iontophoresis uses an electrical charge to deliver medication through the skin. Known as a transdermal drug delivery system, this non-invasive method is used by physical therapists for the application of anti-inflammatory medications, usually in cases where tendons, bursa or muscles are swollen or irritated.
Iontophoresis is a good option for clients who are unable to receive injections. This pain-free methodology takes mere minutes, delivers the medication directly to the injured area and avoids the risk of injection site infection. Clients generally experience a slight tingling sensation from the low electric current that propels the medication through the skin.
Also known as ambulatory devices, mobility aids refers to any device that assists a person with walking or improves mobility. These devices help prevent falls, take the weight off of a leg injury, or provide a mechanized system of mobility for those who cannot walk.
Mobility aids include:
- Motorized scooters
- Stair lifts
- Lift chairs
A physical therapist works with an individual to make sure each mobility aid is properly fitted to the right height and position. Physical therapy exercises may also be used to increase muscle strength in the arms and legs.
Cervical spinal traction is used for the short-term treatment of neck pain. It is designed to relieve muscle spasms and nerve root compression. Using a manual (hands only) or mechanical technique, a steady or intermittent force is applied to the neck to stretch the muscles and soft tissue and open up the spaces between the upper vertebrae. The physical therapist determines the amount of force and length of time a person remains in traction. Slowly, over time, the amount of pressure is increased.
Similarly, lumbar traction is the continuous or intermittent application of force to the spine either manually or mechanically. The goal of lumbar traction is to reduce the pain associated with nerve root impingement and muscle spasms. It is also used to treat degenerative disc disease, herniated or protruding discs and osteoarthritis. As with cervical spinal traction, the process separates the space between vertebrae, which decompresses discs, alleviates pain and supports healing.