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What is Electrotherapy?What is Electrotherapy?

Electrotherapy means the application of physical agents for treatment purposes. It has been a major component of physiotherapy practice since the early days. As with every field, electrotherapy has also undergone remarkable change over time and is continuing to do so. Though the modalities used these days are quite dissimilar to those of the early days but are based on the same principles.

The application of electrotherapy needs to be more evidence-based i.e. used at the right place, at the right time for the right reason. This makes electrotherapy more effective. The matter of concern is if a physiotherapist uses the electrotherapy modality unwisely, it will either do no good at all or possibly make matters worse – which is true for any other professional.


The physiotherapist should use his knowledge to judge the use of the best possible modality to treat a condition and use the best possible evidence that supports his decision. There are few pieces of evidence supporting the use of single modality as the most effective treatment, while when used in combination with other physical agents, have strong evidence of effectively treating any condition.

The physiotherapist may have conflicts with the use of different modalities in different conditions, but, by large the terms that should dictate the application of a modality, should be evidence-based.

The physiotherapy modalities can be classified into 3 subgroups as mentioned below –

Electrical Stimulation Agents / ModalitiesThermal Agents / ModalitiesNon Thermal Agents / Modalities
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)InfraRed Irradiation (IRR)[Pulsed] Ultrasound
Interferential Therapy (IFT)Shortwave Diathermy (SWD)Low-Intensity Pulsed Ultrasound (LIPUS)
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES)Microwave Diathermy (MWD)[Pulsed] Shortwave Therapy (PSWT)
Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)Other RF Therapies[Pulsed] Laser Therapy (LLLT / LILT)
Faradic StimulationHydrocollator Packs[Pulsed] Microwave Therapy
IontophoresisWax TherapyLow-Intensity RF Applications
High Voltage Pulsed Galvanic Stimulation (HVPGS)Balneotherapy ( inc spa/whirlpool)Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF’s)
Low-Intensity Direct Current (LIDC) and Pulsed LIDCFluidotherapyMicrocurrent Therapies
Twin Peak Monophasic StimulationTherapeutic UltrasoundMagnetic Therapies
Twin Peak Monophasic StimulationTherapeutic UltrasoundMagnetic Therapies
Diadynamic TherapyLaser TherapyPulsed Magnetic Therapy
H Wave Therapy; Action Potential System (APS)-Static Magnetic Therapy
Rebox Therapy; Scenar Therapy--
Microcurrent Therapy (MCT)--

A simple clinical decision-making model while applying a modality or modalities (shown in the diagram) should be utilized. All modalities introduce some physical energy into the human body. This energy brings about one or more physiological changes. This physiological change brings about the desired therapeutic effect of any electrotherapy treatment. A physiotherapist may think the other way round as well.


The most important aspect of electrotherapy treatment is the selection of an appropriate dosage of a modality. If a lesser dose is delivered into the body of a patient, the desired physiological changes may not happen, as a result, the therapeutic effect is marginalized hence no benefit. Likewise, a higher dose may cause damage or produce other nondesirable physiological changes. In other words, it is not only very important to select the most appropriate modality based on the available evidence but also to deliver it at the optimal dose.

So, if a physiotherapy practitioner selects the modality on the basis of the best available evidence, uses different modalities in combination, decide an appropriate dosage according to the desired physiological changes, the treatment is no less effective than any manual or exercise therapy.

electrotherapy 2

At PAIN FREE PHYSIOTHERAPY CLINIC, physiotherapists are well equipped in dealing with all the latest modalities. Dr. Roshan Jha (PT) keeps updated with the latest researches in the field of electrotherapy and makes sure that any latest development in the application of modalities is discussed among the physiotherapist. The dosage is decided according to the severity of the condition. We prefer a combination of different therapeutic modalities which is superimposed with manual and exercise therapy to achieve the desired result.

Discuss your query about electrotherapy or any treatment you are undergoing with our experts to understand the treatment better.

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