Electricity, which children learn early, is dangerous. Because in case of accidents with electric current can cause heart rhythm disorders: Muscles, including the heart, cramp together. There is less or no blood and thus too little oxygen transported in the body. This condition can lead to death within a few minutes. In contrast, electrotherapy is very gentle: muscle contractions are specifically brought about by passing current through the body through electrodes that are stuck to the skin. In this way, electrotherapy, also called stimulation current therapy, is used to treat pain, discomfort and to strengthen weak muscles.
TENS stimulation current therapy
For over 30 years, doctors and physiotherapists have been using Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). A low-frequency, low-frequency alternating current (measured in Hertz / hz), which is used primarily for the treatment of pain and muscle stimulation. The frequency is 10 to 100 Hz.
The electrodes are placed near the painful areas. The stimulus itself is not painful - you may feel a tingling sensation on the skin. Sometimes the electrodes are placed in the area of the spine from which the affected nerve emerges. These skin areas are then stimulated with high frequencies and low currents and trigger non-painful sensations. Thus, a counter-irritant is created and the pain improves.
In principle, stimulation current therapy serves to strengthen the musculature. For a successful treatment, a daily treatment of 30 minutes is recommended over a period of at least six weeks.
Principle of counter irritation
As in acupuncture, the principle of stimulation current therapy is called counter-irritation: The actual pain stimulus should be reduced by means of a local touch or vibration stimulus.
Very often patients report an improvement in many chronic pain disorders. These include muscular rheumatism, neuralgia such as sciatic pain, osteoarthritis, and even paralysis is diminished by the stimuli. Even with muscle weakness and lack of muscle sensation, lack of circulation through circulatory disorders, bone disease as a result of accident damage and arterial occlusive diseases, the electrotherapy is indicated.
Vein inflammation, decubitus ulcers, delayed wound healing, osteoporosis and delayed bone healing are other fields of application of electrotherapy.
Electricity and water: The Stangerbad
Electricity and water - a really dangerous combination. But that too can be beneficial. The master jug Johann Jakob Stanger from Ulm developed at the beginning of the 20th century a so-called hydroelectric bath, which is used today mainly in chronic articular rheumatism, neuralgia and ankylosing spondylitis (an inflammatory chronic disease usually the spine). The DC current flowing through the body provides muscle relaxation and stimulates muscle and nerve activity.
The patient sits down in a tub, in the side walls are large, plate-shaped electrodes embedded: two left and right and one head and one foot electrode. This arrangement allows the current to flow through the body in different directions - very gently.
The circuit depends on the indications. Thus, in rheumatic diseases, a descending, ie a running in the body from top to bottom, current direction is selected. This is to reduce the excitability of the nerves and the muscle tension. In paralysis, on the other hand, ascending currents try to stimulate muscle and nerve activity. Through the use of direct current and the very high safety standards, the Stangerbad is completely harmless.
However, this therapy is not suitable for cardiovascular diseases and the lungs. The Stangerbad is part of the electrotherapy for DC therapy, also called galvanization. Galvanization is basically used for pain relief and blood circulation promotion.
Improved circulation, pain relief and increased metabolism are the effects of ultrasound. Also this application counts in the broadest sense for the electrotherapy.
Ultrasound is also known as microvibration massage: electricity, converted into high-frequency mechanical vibrations of about 1 Mhz (vibrations), which the patient does not feel, is applied via a transducer with a contact gel on the diseased region and thereby moved in a circle.
This application can also be used in a sub-tub or container underwater, such as feet and hands. The sound is emitted continuously or pulsed. The pulsed sound produces less heat effect.
Electrotherapy also includes treatment with short waves (diathermy). She works with waves in the high frequency range. This electromagnetic energy generates heat. Through targeted warming to 40 to 41 degrees Celsius, the blood supply in the tissue increases and it begins the healing effect.
According to the Ärztezeitung, suitable equipment can also be used to reach deep tissue, when the performance of the devices is high enough and the electrodes can be placed one to two centimeters away from the body site to be heated. In particular, rheumatic diseases, but also diseases of the musculoskeletal system, muscles and skin and in certain forms of Turmorbildung the shortwave therapy has shown good results. Patients with muscle and soft tissue pain such as tension can also benefit from shortwave therapy.
The duration of use is between six and twelve treatments of ten to 15 minutes with different heat dosages.
Application at home possible
While ultrasound, shortwave therapy and Stangerbad is offered by physiotherapists or in health clinics, the TENS can also be used well at home. The device for electrotherapy is about the size of a pack of cigarettes, is powered by a battery and the electrodes used are only a few square centimeters.
Before the application, the doctor explains how high the current should be, how often and where it is used. Glue the electrodes directly over the painful area or to the places indicated by the doctor. Then you choose the current so that feel only a slight pleasant tingling.
Three to four treatments a day for half an hour are usually sufficient. After a few weeks, the effect may subside, then you should take a break or use the electrodes in other places. The applications of electrotherapy prescribed by the doctor are considered remedies and are paid by the health insurance. The device is rented, usually it is sent back to the manufacturer after treatment.
The electrical stimulation is almost always very well tolerated and almost free of side effects. Caution should be exercised only with pacemakers or larger metal implants. In individual cases, skin irritations, epilepsy, aversion to electricity and mental pain syndromes may speak against the use of TENS.