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Interferential Therapy using Interferential Generator for pain relief

Interferential current (IFC): This type of stimulation is characterized by the crossing of two electrical medium, independent frequencies that work together to effectively stimulate large impulse fibers. These frequencies interfere with the transmission of pain messages at the spinal cord level. Because of the frequency, the Interferential wave meets low impedance when crossing the skin to enter the underlying tissue. This deep tissue penetration can be adjusted to stimulate parasympathetic nerve fibers for increased blood flow. Interferential Stimulation differs from TENS because it allows a deeper penetration of the tissue with more comfort (compliance) and increased circulation.

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Interferential current is essentially a deeper form of TENS. In essence, IFC modulates a high frequency (4000 Hz) carrier waveform with the same signal produced by a TENS unit. The high frequency carrier waveform penetrates the skin more deeply than a regular TENS unit, with less user discomfort for a given level of stimulation. Deep in the tissues, the carrier waveform is cancelled out, resulting in a TENS-like signal deep under the skin.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the IFC units may be useful for patients who have not had relief from TENS.

Interferential electrical stimulation's is a unique way of effectively delivering therapeutic frequencies to tissue. Conventional TENS and Neuromuscular stimulators use discrete electrical pulses delivered at low frequencies of 2-160 Hz per second. However, Interferential stimulators use a fixed carrier frequency of 4,000 Hz per second and also a second adjustable frequency of 4,001-4,400 Hz per second. When the fixed and adjustable frequencies combine (heterodyne), they produce the desired signal frequency (Interference frequency). Interferential stimulation is concentrated at the point of intersection between the electrodes. This concentration occurs deep in the tissues as well as at the surface of the skin. Conventional TENS and Neuromuscular stimulators deliver most of the stimulation directly under the electrodes. Thus, with Interferential Stimulators, current perfuses to greater depths and over a larger volume of tissue than other forms of electrical therapy.

When current is applied to the skin, capacitive skin resistance decreases as pulse frequency increases.' For example, at a frequency of 4,000 Hz (Interferential unit) capacitive skin resistance is eighty (80) times lower than with a frequency of 50 Hz (in the TENS range). Thus, Interferential current crosses the skin with greater ease and with less stimulation of cutaneous nociceptors allowing greater patient comfort during electrical stimulation. In addition, because medium-frequency (Interferential) current is tolerated better by the skin, the dosage can be increased, thus improving the ability of the Interferential current to permeate tissues and allowing easier access to deep structures.

This explains why Interferential current may be most suitable for treating patients with deep pain, for promoting osteogenesis in delayed and nonunion fractures and in pseudothrosis, for stimulating deep skeletal muscle to augment the muscle pump mechanism in venous insufficiency, and for depressing the activity of certain cervical and lumbosacral sympathetic ganglia in patients with increased arterial constrictor tone.

Common uses: Pre and post-orthopedic surgery, joint injury syndrome, cumulative trauma disorders, increasing circulation and pain control of various origins.

Applications: Interferential Therapy is used in the treatment of circulatory disorders, range of motion, edema and muscle spasms. Post-op patients will use the device 3 times a day for 15 minutes over a period of 14 - 30 days. 

Advantages: Since Interferential Therapy has been in use for many years, its effectiveness is well documented. Studies have shown that patients using Interferential Therapy after surgery develop fewer post-op complications than those relying solely on narcotics for pain relief. Interferential stimulation does not cause respiratory depression. Interferential Therapy aids in circulation, increasing the recovery time for patients. Multiple treatments at home or work will typically speed the patient's recovery and allow earlier resumption of their normal lifestyle.

Commonly Asked Questions in Regards to Interferential Therapy

Are Interferential devices safe?
YES. Although the thought of electrical impulses being sent into the body may seem frightening at first, all you really feel is a slight vibrating sensation. Unlike many drugs, Interferential devices have no known side effects.

Who cannot use an Interferential device?
Individuals with a pacemaker or patients who are pregnant should not use an Interferential device. Consult your doctor or clinician first.

Will an Interferential device work for me?
Interferential Therapy has been used extensively for managing post-surgical, post-traumatic acute pain, edema and inflammation reduction. It has been used successfully for a wide variety of procedures such as:

  • General Surgery: Hernia Repair, Gall Bladder
  • Neurosurgery/Orthopedic: Low Back Surgery, Hip/Joint Repair, ACL Repair, Carpal Tunnel
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology: Gynecological, Laparotomy, Cesarean Section
  • Orthopedic: Hip Replacement, Arthrotomy, Fractures, Sports Injuries, Joint Mobilization
  • Podiatry: Hammer Toes, Bunionectomy, Tarsal Tunnel
  • Thoracic: Thoracotomy
  • Urology: Nephrectomy, Prostatectomy, Penile Implants

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