Why We Use Interferential Therapy (IFT)

For suitable injuries, we use IFT to relieve pain, stimulate muscles, increase local blood flow and reduce oedema to relieve the acute phase of your injury. Once the acute phase has passed, we manipulate and exercise the injured part to enhance recovery and help to prevent injury recurrence. Our results show that we rehabilitate injuries faster and the recovery is more durable with IFT.

What is Interferential Therapy?

The basic principle of IFT is to utilise the strong physiologicaportable effects of low frequency electrical stimulation of nerves to reach the deeper tissues.

Stimulation is applied using suction pad electrodes and sponge covers which, when wet, provide an even current distribution.

Physiological Effects & Clinical Applications

IFT is a generic means of stimulation – the machine can be set up to act more like a TENS type device or can be set up to behave more like a muscle stimulator – by adjusting the stimulating (beat) frequency. It is regarded by patients to be more acceptable as it generates less discomfort than some other forms of electrical stimulation.  The clinical application of IFT therapy is based on peripheral nerve stimulation (frequency) data.

There are 4 main clinical applications for which we use IFT:

  • Pain relief
  • Muscle stimulation
  • Increased local blood flow
  • Reduction of oedema

As IFT acts primarily on the excitable (nerve) tissues, the strongest effects are those which are a direct result of such stimulation (i.e. pain relief and muscle stimulation).

Pain Relief

Electrical stimulation for pain relief has widespread clinical use.  A good number of recent studies provide substantive evidence for the pain relief effect of IFT.

Muscle Stimulation

Stimulation of the motor nerves is achieved with a wide range of frequencies. The contraction brought about by IFT is similar to what would be achieved by active exercise. However in the acute phase, we use IFT as active exercise is difficult and painful. This allows for a faster return to activity.

Blood Flow

Current available evidence shows that IFT improves local blood flow via muscle stimulation effects.


We use IFT as the preferable clinical option to bring about local muscle contractions which, combined with the local vascular changes that will result, are effective in encouraging the re-absorption of tissue fluid.

The Best Result

Evidence and our physiological knowledge shows that a combination of pain relief (allowing more movement), muscle stimulation and enhanced local blood flow is the combination to be most effective in overcoming the acute phase of injuries.

For further information, phone the clinic to talk to a Physiotherapist.

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