What is Interferential current Therapy in Physiotherapy?

IFT is one of the Pain Modulating Modalities which is clinically Proven and widely used by Physiotherapists to modulate pain. The word 'Interferential' suggests some sort of interference and this basis for the name of this current. Interferential currents (IFC) Therapy is two different kHz frequency alternating currents applied in a continuous rhythm. The currents have a slightly different frequency (for example, one might be 4000 Hz, the other 4050 Hz).

What is Interferential current Therapy in Physiotherapy?

The original interferential stimulators used sinusoidal AC at a frequency of 4 kHz. kHz frequencies make little difference whether the shape is sinusoidal, rectangular, or triangular. Interferential stimulators also offer the option of  'modulated interferential current' where the two slightly different frequency cur are combined within the stimulator and a current is applied Single pair of electrodes.

IFT which is Representing the Name Interferential Current therapy is a highly recommended and practiced therapy by physiotherapists and pain specialists for treating muscle spasms and strains for many years. IFT is a Non-Invasive, Drug Independent Electro modality that is highly recommended for its healing effect and pain Reliving in nature. you may hear your therapist murmuring IFT... IFT...IFT so many times in the ic, haha😆.

Whereas TENS(Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator) stimulate surface nerves and block the pain signal, IFT Physiotherapy Equipment transmits a continuous stimulation deep into the affected tissue thereby blocking the pain signals and reducing swelling and inflammation which causes pain.
When Current intersects within tissue volume they 'interfere' or 'superimpose'. the total current at any point is the sum of the two currents. The pattern of stimulation is clearly more complex with interferential currents than with current applied using a single pair of electrodes.
As we discussed earlier, IFT comes into various Patterns and Rhythms like Premodulated IFT, Frequency Modulated IFT. another Modern IFT is available into two totally different but very useful, VECTOR Rotation and Suction Cups.

Vector rotation 

Another Interesting feature of some interferential stimulators is ‘ vector rotation ' or ‘ scanning'. This is achieved by rhythmically increasing and decreasing the amount of current applied between one pair of electrodes, while simultaneously decreasing and increasing the other, generally over a period of several seconds or tens of seconds. So when one current goes up, the other goes down and vice versa. This is often described as “ rotating ’ the cloverleaf pattern of stimulation.

As explained above, the pattern of stimulation does not have the shape of a cloverleaf. Increasing the current between one pair of electrodes will stimulate more fibers lying parallel to the current path and if the other current is reduced, fewer of the fibers running parallel to it will be stimulated. Thus ‘ vector rotation ' will change the pattern of stimulation in a tissue volume but the effect is best visualized as stimulation which progressively fluctuates between maximum along the path between one pair of electrodes and maximum between the other pair of electrodes.

Suction cups 

An important feature of commercial interferential stimulators is a vacuum unit that allows electrodes to be attached with suction cups. Metal electrodes within the cups are in contact with wetted sponges which conduct current from the electrodes to the skin. The ease of placement and securing of the electrodes is of great practical value. 

There is no need for strapping or the use of conductive gel. If water from the local supply is not sufficiently conductive, a small amount of salt ( about 1 flat teaspoonful per liter) can be added before the sponges are moistened. Some manufacturers advise against the use of salt as it can accelerate corrosion of any moistened metal in the suction unit but if the unit is of quality, i. e. stainless steel and the amount of added salt do not exceed the recommended level, no adverse effects should occur.

Suction cup electrodes are commonly used with interferential stimulators, perhaps because of the need to position four electrodes simultaneously. They are not normally used for other forms of stimulation but this is perhaps for historical reasons. Suction cup electrodes are quick and easy to position and could be used for any stimulus type, quadripolar or bipolar. 

A potential risk with suction cup application is the vacuum produced. The vacuum must be great enough to hold the cup in contact with the skin but must not be high enough to cause tissue damage. The pressure in the suction cup can, if low enough, result in burst blood vessels and generalized reddening and bruising of the area immediately under the cups so it is important that suction units allow for sufficient operator control of the vacuum.

Contraindications Interferential current therapy (IFT)

  • Arterial disease
  • Febrile condition
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Infective condition
  • Danger of hemorrhage
  • Malignancy
  • Pacemaker
  • During menstruation
  • Large open wounds
  • Pregnant uterus
  • Unreliable patient
  • Dermatological condition

Uses Of IFT In Physiotherapy

                        In Physiotherapy, IFT is widely used and its medical significance is also well-proven. Your Physiotherapist knows how to use them depending upon your Condition. Interferential Therapy utilizes the significant physiological effects of low frequency (<250pps) electrical stimulation of nerves. Electrodes that are being placed can be various in nature depending on availability and demand. It has been said that IFT works in a ‘special way’ because it is ‘interferential’ as opposed to ‘normal’ stimulation.
  • increasing blood circulation
  • reducing pain, and inflammation
  • vasodilation
  • curing edema and hematoma
  • removing waste substances from the affected area
  • increasing muscle stimulation
  • Increasing metabolic rate
  • decreasing blood pressure
  • treating chronic ligamentous lesions
  • improving restricted movements of joints
  • restoring the lost movement of muscles

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