electrotherapy treatment

18. August 2021

advantages vs risks of using electrotherapy on physiotherapy

You may have heard of electrotherapy, or even had it recommended to you as a physiotherapy treatment.

Yet do you know what the advantages of electrotherapy are, and if there are any risk factors?

It sounds frightening at first, but technology has vastly improved the ‘electrical treatments’ of the past.

Whether you’re looking for treatment for yourself or want to find out more information for another. We’ll delve into the advantages vs risks of using electrotherapy in physiotherapy.

We’ll give you an overview of electrotherapy and how it works, helping you weigh up the pros and cons of electrotherapy.

Plus, explore any risk factors that may be preventing you from seeking electrotherapy as a suitable physiotherapy treatment.

First, let’s cover the basics!

What is electrotherapy?

Electrotherapy is the use of electrical energy as a medical treatment (Electrotherapy - Wikipedia)

Sounds simple enough!

But what does electrotherapy do, and how can it help?

A variety of modalities are used within electrotherapy itself, but by the use of a gentle electrical current, its main purpose is to stimulate, repair and heal.

Physiotherapists use various electrotherapy treatments alongside exercise to aid:

  • Muscle stimulation and strengthening
  • Reduce swelling and irritation
  • Alleviate chronic pain or nerve pain
  • Increase blood circulation and range of motion

What can electrotherapy in physiotherapy treat?

There are many advantages of electrotherapy in physiotherapy. One of them being its versatility of application.

Electrotherapy can be used to treat:

  • Acute or chronic joint pain
  • Sporting injury
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Facial paralysis
  • Post-surgical (stimulation, pain or trauma)
  • Spinal osteoarthritis
  • Neck or back pain
  • Muscle rehabilitation (especially after trauma or stroke)

Benefits of Electrotherapy in Physical Therapy - prohealthcareproducts.com

Electrotherapy units usually emit a mild current to the affected area via electrode pads.

These sticky electrode pads are placed upon your skin and connected to the electrotherapy unit by thin electrical wires.

When the unit is turned on the rhythmic pulses are sent to help the body prohibit pain signals/receptors along the nerves.

This electrical stimulation has a profound effect on the brain. Helping release endorphins which help to improve circulation, boost your mood, reduce swelling and speed up recovery.

What types of electrotherapy treatments are there

Although we’ve covered the basics in answering ‘what does electrotherapy do, and how can it help?’. The fact is, the advantages of electrotherapy can range drastically.

This is due to the varying range of electrotherapy treatments, the ailment or injury sustained; plus being dependent on the individual’s response to treatment received.

Before delving into the pros and cons of electrotherapy, and any related risk factors electrotherapy brings; you need to know what electrotherapy treatment options are available to you.

Here are some types of electrotherapy treatments (but not limited to):

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS)
  • Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS)
  • Interferential current (IFC)
  • Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF)
  • Galvanic stimulation (GS)

How Electrotherapy Works to Ease Pain (spine-health.com)

The range of treatments above is used in conjunction with various other physiotherapy methods to achieve the best results.

Teamed with physiotherapy techniques and approaches, electrotherapy is effective in the treatment of (not limited to):

  • Strains/sprains
  • Fractures and splints
  • Back/neck pain
  • Arthritis
  • Plantar fascitis
  • Tendonitis
  • DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness)
  • Stroke, Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis patients
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Labour pain
  • Tennis elbow
  • Hip pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

With the wondrous advantages of electrotherapy and the versatility of application, there’s usually at least one (if not more) electrotherapy treatment type that will be suitable for your condition.

The pros and cons of electrotherapy

Although there are many advantages of electrotherapy it’s important to also explore the cons of the treatment too.

Here we will provide you with the pros and cons of electrotherapy, helping you to decide if electrotherapy treatment will be most beneficial.


(not limited to)

  • Non-invasive and non-toxic method of treating chronic conditions
  • Reduces nerve pain by blocking pain signals
  • Lessens or removes the need for pain relief/narcotics
  • Stimulates healing process
  • Promotes preventing surgery
  • Increased strength and muscle tone


(not limited to)

  • Can cause skin irritation or burns
  • Muscle soreness, swelling or bruising
  • Induced fatigue or dizziness
  • Not be used over infected or cancerous tissue
  • Not suitable for pregnant women or children

Electrotherapy. Advantages and disadvantages - Healthy Sport Lifestyle

You don’t have to decide alone. It’s always advisable to talk with a chartered physiotherapist to discuss your options for treatment.

CK Physio understands it’s important for you to feel comfortable in your decision and strive to make sure you have all the available information to hand in order to do so.

What are the risk factors of electrotherapy has

We discussed the advantages of electrotherapy and also weighed up the pros and cons of electrotherapy.

Although electrotherapy is predominantly a non-invasive and safe treatment. Like all treatments, there are risk factors electrotherapy carries. There are only a few instances where electrotherapy cannot be used.


  • Pregnant
  • Epileptic
  • Have an electric implant
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Have cancer
  • Recently received radiotherapy

(there are exceptions when the advantages of electrotherapy can be received with the above conditions)


  • Skin is broken or irritated
  • Infection or bleeding is present
  • On sensitive areas

Even with the above recommendations electrotherapy treatment may still be suitable under strict guidance.

Here at CK Physio, we have many physiotherapy treatments for patients to choose from and are available to discuss these with you.

To ensure you avoid risk factors of electrotherapy, always consult a trusted, chartered physiotherapist.

How to access the advantages of electrotherapy

At CK Physio our main aspect is to bring accurate and informative guidance; to help you make informed decisions for yourself when seeking physiotherapy treatment.

Within this blog, we have covered many modalities of electrotherapy treatment and hope that you feel more comfortable exploring the advantages of electrotherapy to aid in your healing process.

Contact us today for a virtual consultation to gain more information regarding electrotherapy, and discover if it’s a suitable treatment for you.

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