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What is Electrotherapy?

A common treatment technique used by physiotherapists.

Electrotherapy treatment (電療法) is a common treatment technique used by physiotherapists. It involves electricity passing through the body to stimulate nerves and muscles. The treatment can reduce pain, reduce inflammation, improve circulation, repair tissues, strengthen muscles, promote bone growth, and improve physical functioning.   


Electrotherapy treatment types    

Several types of electrotherapy treatments are available, each with its specific technique and purpose. Here are some common types of electrotherapy treatments: 

  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) 
  • Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)  
  • Interferential Current  Therapy (IFT) 
  • Galvanic Stimulation  
  • Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF) 
  • High-Frequency Stimulation 
  • Microcurrent Therapy 


Electrotherapy side effects   

Electrotherapy, when administered properly and under the guidance of a trained physiotherapist, is considered a safe treatment modality. However, like any medical intervention, there can be potential side effects. Here are some potential side effects associated with electrotherapy: 

  • Skin Irritation: Some individuals may experience mild skin irritation or redness at the electrode placement site. This is typically temporary and resolves on its own. 
  • Allergic Reactions: In rare cases, individuals may be allergic to the materials used in the electrodes or conductive gels. Symptoms may include itching, rash, or swelling.   
  • Muscle Soreness: Following certain types of electrotherapies, such as muscle stimulation, individuals may experience temporary muscle soreness or fatigue. This is like the muscle soreness experienced after a workout, typically subsiding within a day or two. 
  • Tingling or Sensations: During electrotherapy, some individuals may experience tingling, buzzing, or other sensations in the treated area. These sensations are usually harmless and is a normal response to electrical stimulation. 
  • Muscle Twitching or Spasms: In rare cases, individuals may experience involuntary muscle twitches or spasms during or after electrotherapy. This is typically transient and not a cause for concern. 
  • Interference with Implantable Devices: Individuals with pacemakers, implanted defibrillators, or other electronic implants should exercise caution with electrotherapy. Electrical currents from the therapy can potentially interfere with the functioning of these devices.  


Electrotherapy offers a promising avenue for managing various health conditions and promoting healing. The specific risks and potential side effects can vary depending on the type of electrotherapy being used.  Remember to consult a doctor or physiotherapist to determine if electrotherapy will suit your specific needs and to receive expert guidance throughout your treatment journey. 

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Information provided by:

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Victor Chan

OT&P Healthcare

Please note that all medical articles featured on our website have been reviewed by qualified healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for a personal consultation with a qualified medical professional on the reader's medical condition.