To Tingle or Not to Tingle…..My Point of View on the Use of Electrotherapy Modalities

I’m bringing it up. I’m being THAT physio. Because more and more often lately, I’m seeing clients who have seen a physio before to no avail and when asked what type of treatment they received I get an “uhh, they put this tingly machine on me for 15mins and left the room to treat someone next door then came back and gave me an ice/heat pack, and that was it”.

If you know me, you know I try my hardest to avoid being negative about anything or anyone and I try very hard not to insult, roll my eyes or call people out on things that I don’t agree with. But enough. Because this is giving physiotherapists a bad reputation. If you see a physio, and the only thing (or first thing) they do is put a machine on you, get up and walk (or hobble) out.

[Now, before all you physio nay-sayers get all “nay”-ee on me, hold up. I know there is some evidence out there supporting electrotherapy modalities (minimal, but it’s out there) and I’m not denying that. What I AM suggesting is that putting a machine on someone to alleviate pain temporarily is perhaps causing more of a detrimental effect to the population at large than a beneficial one.

WHY? Because you are encouraging and being encouraged to rely on an outside source to alleviate any painful symptoms (equivalent to taking pain killers).]

Our bodies are PHENOMENAL. If they are in pain, it is because your body is trying to tell you to take it easy, it needs some time out to heal. If we never felt pain, we’d never know to take it easy and we’d never recover when hurt. Along the same lines, our bodies are capable of managing this pain response on it’s own. And when we rely on external forces to provide us with pain relief, we decrease our bodies natural ability to deal with pain (Remember pain is happening for a reason, we need to allow it to do its job).

If you are acutely injured, it is far more beneficial to spend that first session being educated on how pain works, how gentle movement is paramount and how to be wary of avoiding guarding all your movements. It is beneficial to be shown some easy, simple exercises to take away so that YOU and YOUR BODY can continue to work on fixing yourself. There’s no point me putting a machine on you that is going to dull down your pain receptors, because I haven’t fixed the problem! It’s a band-aid solution. When you walk out my clinic and 2 hours later the effects have worn off, you are no better off than before. You have to come back in to get the machine put on you again, to get the relief. Wouldn’t it be better to be taught techniques so that you can manage your pain at home, on your own, without any external influences?

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that when you hurt yourself, it’s important to not see anyone or do anything about it. There is a lot that can be done to naturally help speed up the healing process and majority of this is education on what you should and shouldn’t be doing during each particular phase of the healing process. And even more importantly, what you need to do once your pain has settled to prevent this injury from happening again. It’s the difference between a slow and fast recovery and an acute (new, one-off) and chronic (old, recurrent) injury.

What I am saying however, is that, in my opinion, the use of Electrotherapy Modalities has no part in this process. Our bodies are made to deal with pain. So let’s allow them to do their job.

Do you have an injury or pain that doesn't seem to be getting better? Book in to see one of our physiotherapists for a check up today, either online here or call us on (08) 9448 2994.

#physio #physiotherapy

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