Heat: The use of heat in therapy looks to target a number of responses from the body. Desirable effects include: increased muscle extensibility of collagen tissues; decreased joint stiffness; reducing pain; relieving muscle spasm; reducing inflammation and swelling; and increasing blood flow. Examples of heat therapy include heat packs and wax baths. Similar effects can be produced with a 5-10 minute warm up of light aerobic activity targeting affected joints and musculature. Patients with muscles strains, spasms, or arthritis often benefit from treatment with moist hot packs.
Ice: Cryotherapy is often used to minimize the body’s inflammatory response to an acute injury. This is accomplished by causing vasoconstriction of blood vessels in a localized area through the application of cold with the goal of minimizing swelling. A useful acronym for managing an acute injury is R-I-C-E (rest, ice, compress, elevate) Examples of cryotherapy used in our clinics include ice packs and ice massage.
Ultrasound stimulates the repair of soft-tissue injuries and relives pain in the same way as a heat pack, through heat. Ultrasound is a deep heating modality with its primary use to raise tissue temperature. Ultrasound is especially useful for targeting deep tissues that wouldn’t normally be heated with the application of a heat pack. This heating is achieved through the absorption of high frequency sound waves.
TENS: TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. This modality uses electrical transmission to decrease pain. Electrodes are applied directly to the skin which then stimulate nerves in a localized area. patients often report a tingling sensation felt in the underlying skin and muscle. This nerve innervation can modulate and suppress the pain signal being transmitted to the brain for pain relief.
EMS: Electrical stimulation uses an electrical current to cause a single muscle group or group of muscles to contract. By placing electrodes on the skin in various locations, the physiotherapist can recruit the appropriate muscle fibres. Contracting the muscle via electrical stimulation helps strengthen the affected muscle. The physiotherapist can change the current setting to allow for a forceful or gentle muscle contraction. Along with increasing the muscle strength, the contraction of the muscle also promotes blood supply to the area, which assists in healing.
IFC: Interferential current is a treatment to aid in the relief of pain and promotion of soft tissue healing. Small electrical impulses are induced into the tissues in the area of pain. Where these waves intersect below the surface of the skin, the low-frequency stimulation induces the body to secrete endorphins, which are the body's natural pain killers. IFC also decreases local swelling and helps restore motion.