You may have heard that physical therapy routines can include electrical stimulation treatment, but did you know that a wide variety of these treatments exist? The most well-known method is TENS, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, but there is a stronger, deeper-penetrating method called IFC, or inferential current therapy.
What is it?
IFC sends small amounts of electrical current through the skin to stimulate the tissues around an injured body part to promote pain relief and healing. It may sound intimidating, but IFC is safe and effective, and patients report it causes less discomfort than other forms of electrical stimulation, describing the feeling as a tingling or “pins and needles” sensation.
How does it differ from TENS?
TENS delivers low-frequency current across the surface of the skin, while IFC delivers a higher frequency current that penetrates deeper into the tissue with less discomfort.
So, if IFC is stronger, why doesn’t it hurt? IFC uses two frequencies to deliver stimulation to the affected area, one around 4000Hz and the other varies up to 400Hz. At these levels, the currents are able to pass through the skin with less resistance, meaning they will travel deeper with less discomfort. When the currents meet up, the difference in hertz creates interference—hence the name interferential—which then creates a pulse deep within the muscle or joint. There you have it: deeper, more comfortable therapy!
When is it used?
Because IFC mainly targets tissues, the most noticeable and longest lasting effects are seen on patients who need pain relief due to inflammation, muscle strains or sprains, and joint problems. IFC is often used with chiropractic and physiotherapy as part of a full treatment plan. The goals of IFC are to:
- reduce pain
- decrease muscle spasm
- reduce swelling and inflammation
- increase blood flow
- promote healing
Want to learn more? Visit our page on Interferential Current Therapy.