Interferential Therapy & Physiotherapy


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In a sense interferential therapy is a classic example of electrotherapy in that the technique essentially involves electrically stimulating nerves to therapeutic ends. The difference between this and the TENS procedure is that stimulation penetrates more deeply than just the outermost layers.

How does interferential therapy work?

Interferential therapy (IFT) involves the use of low frequency electricity to stimulate peripheral nerves. Clinically this method is used to reduce oedema (abnormal pooling of blood and/or fluids in body tissue), relieve chronic pain, stimulate muscles, and improve blood flow in a target region. These frequencies stimulate a natural pain relieving mechanism called the Opioid mechanism causing pain free pain relief.

Muscles are innervated with motor neurons that can be stimulated by electricity, the lower the frequency the milder the effect and hence contraction. This stimulus can be controlled in a manner that mimics the natural electrical activity of muscles achieved during exercise. This method is particularly useful for physios treating patients who are unable to achieve active exercise for whatever reason as it prevents muscular degradation and is thought to have a strengthening effect.

Use of interferential therapy in physiotherapy

As discussed above, interferential therapy has its uses in pain relief and muscular contraction. It is used as a technique to achieve either of these when other methods are not appropriate or unavailable, and are often conducted in conjunction with other treatments.

The use of interferential therapy in terms of the muscular system is normally to aid in the treatment of spasms and strains, although use is limited in the event of infections or wounding to the region.


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