Electrotherapy and ultrasound therapy
are two different types of medical treatments. They use different means to provide relief to patients with dissimilar types of medical problems. Whether a medical provider would use electrotherapy or ultrasound therapy depends of the individual patient, and the type of medical problem. Both treatments are effective but each must be used in the appropriate situation to obtain the desired results.
Electrotherapy, as its name suggests, utilizes electrical current. The name basically means the use of electricity for therapeutic purposes. It may sound strange, as most people think of electricity as something dangerous when applied to the body. Many persons have received an electrical shock of some degree, and did not find it pleasant. Not only can it be scary, but it can cause temporary or permanent damage. Remember how everyone was told not to stick any foreign object into an electric socket. Electrotherapy changes that perception of electricity, although it is still a bad idea to play with electrical outlets.
Electrical stimulation sends out currents that seem to block pain signals from reaching the brain. Hit your finger with a hammer and the nerves in your finger send a signal to your brain. When the brain receives the signal, it tells you that there is pain. This is your body's way of protecting itself. If you did not receive the pain signal, you just might keep on hitting your finger with the hammer. Sometimes, though, there are pain signals from an injured part of the body that we would just as soon block. An injured joint or muscle can send a pain signal continuously. You know it hurts and is injured, but you want relief.
Electrotherapy provides that relief. The electrical signals are sent by a medical device to the target area. The electrical signal negates to some degree your body's pain signal, and thus you do not feel the pain. Your muscle or joint still is not normal, but you do not feel the pain. In addition to pain relief, a person can receive increased blood flow in a muscle area, and help the muscle heal.
While electrotherapy uses electrical simulation, ultrasound therapy uses sound waves. When most people think of ultrasound, they think of a machine that uses the technology to produce an image on a screen. This is used by ships to bounce sound waves off the bottom of the ocean, and is used by physicians to see an unborn child inside the mother of the child. In ultrasound therapy, the purpose is not to see the injured tissue or muscle being treated, but to provide benefits to the injured person.
There are some dispute about how placing the treatment head of the machine over the skin works to relieve pain and increase healing. Some believe it is the increased temperature that provides relief and healing. Others just say that it works. Athletes use it to speed up the recovery period. The sound waves tend to make the body tissues heal quicker. This works for muscle injuries scar tissue, and soft tissue damage. The treatment is usually applied once or twice a day for a short period, generally no more than 5 minutes. The sound wave frequency is adjusted, depending upon the depth of the injury below the skin. Lower frequencies penetrate deeper into the body.
Both treatments provide relief from pain. Electrotherapy is more likely to be used for chronic nerve pain while ultrasound therapy is the preferred treatment for muscle pain and soft tissue injuries. They both provide great relief for the patient, and when used properly, can enhance quicker recovery and a better life. These treatments show how electricity and sound waves can be used for the benefit of people in ways not anticipated. They are examples of taking inventions and adapting them to help make life better for people in pain.