What is Electrotherapy?

At Health Box Clinic, we take pride in the range of therapies we offer to speed and improve recovery from illness and injury. For this reason, we receive many patients seeking electrotherapy in Chicago, IL. 

Electrotherapy is the use of electrical energy as a medical treatment. In medicine, the term electrotherapy can apply to a variety of treatments, including the use of electrical devices such as deep brain stimulators for neurological disease. The term has also been applied specifically to the use of electric current to speed wound healing. Additionally, the term “electrotherapy” or “electromagnetic therapy” has also been applied to a range of alternative medical devices and treatments.

The use of electrotherapy has been researched and accepted in the field of rehabilitation (electrical muscle stimulation). The American Physical Therapy Association acknowledges the use of Electrotherapy for:

1. Pain management

  • Improves range of joint movement

2. Treatment of neuromuscular dysfunction

  • Improvement of strength
  • Improvement of motor control
  • Retard muscle atrophy
  • Improvement of local blood flow

3. Improves range of joint mobility

  • Induces repeated stretching of contracted, shortened soft tissues

4. Tissue repair

  • Enhances microcirculation and protein synthesis to heal wounds
  • Restores integrity of connective and dermal tissues

5. Acute and chronic edema

  • Accelerates absorption rate
  • Affects blood vessel permeability
  • Increases mobility of proteins, blood cells and lymphatic flow

How Does Electrotherapy Work?

There are several types of electrotherapy with different mechanisms, including Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), pulsed shortwave therapy, and extracorporeal shockwave therapy. While shockwave therapy creates a compression wave that stimulates healing, shortwave therapy promotes cellular activity, including communication. TENS therapy helps with blocking pain signals, and can strengthen muscles and neurological function through electrical stimulation. Nerve and muscle cells communicate with electricity, so the correct use of electrotherapy is able to promote improved functioning. Cellular function often involves bio-electricity too, hence the benefits for circulation, tissue integrity, absorption of substances into cells, and cell mobility. 

Electrotherapy is used for relaxation of muscle spasms, prevention and retardation of disuse atrophy, increase of local blood circulation, muscle rehabilitation and re-education of electrical muscle stimulation, maintaining and increasing range of motion, management of chronic and acute pain. This is how electrotherapy for tennis elbow and other musculoskeletal complaints can be highly effective. Over time, it can also work through neuroplasticity, retraining the brain for greater sensory perception and more accurate movements. 

How Often Should You Do the Procedure?

Different types of electrotherapy devices have different indications. TENS therapy can be used on a daily basis at home or during the initial phase of a treatment plan in-clinic. Some people use TENS machines set at frequencies for pain relief for hours on end, while those meant for improved strength and motor function are used for the same duration as an exercise routine. If you have a home device and searched for “electrotherapy near me” to learn how to use it, we can advise you on the best treatment protocols. Shockwave treatment should be spaced out to at least every one or two weeks, because it creates microscopic cavities of damage. 

When Should You Not Use Electrotherapy?

Do not use electrotherapy if you have an implanted electrical device such as a pacemaker or have epilepsy. This is because a TENS machine may disrupt the electrical signal of these devices or your brain. Additionally, it’s not advisable to use TENS therapy over the abdomen if you are pregnant.

Electrotherapy at Health Box Clinic 

At Health Box Clinic, Dr. Lev Kipnis, D.N. Ph. D.  and Dr. Olga Arbitman, D.N. have years of experience in electrotherapy and other treatments, including formulating complete, holistic plans for the best results. Contact us now or call us at 847-724-1777 to schedule your visit.

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