Interferential Therapy (IFT)

What is Interferential Therapy IFT?

Interferential Therapy or “IFT” is a physiotherapy treatment. It is given via special IFT machines. IFT machines produce beat frequencies. These currencies give pain-relieving effects to injured body parts. That’s why physiotherapists use IFT to cure muscle spasms, chronic pain, post-surgical pain, and other kinds of physical pain.

IFT is very popular because it’s a drug-free and non-invasive form of pain relief. It is FDA-approved, and several medical professionals use it. Plus, IFT machines are easy to operate. There are no negative side effects. Most people who receive Interferential Therapy (IFT) give amazing feedback. IFT machines are also used for home treatment.

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Types of Interferential Therapy IFT

There are two types of IFT machines. One’s only for professional use. The other’s light, portable, and usable even little to no training. Professional IFT machines offer more control, and they’re more efficient. That’s because the effects of this therapy depend on the machine’s operation.

  • The frequency of the beats needs to be perfect.
  • Operators must adjust the intensity of the currents to provide optimal pain relief.
  • The way you place the IFT machine’s electrodes on the patient’s body also matters.
  • The injured body parts need to be localized so that the patient fully feels the effects of the therapy.

Here’s how IFT differs based on the types of frequencies the operator creates:

  • Vector Effects – Create frequency fields that cover large areas. Treat injuries that are hard to localize (e.g., neck pain).
  • Frequency Swings - Swing frequencies between 0 to 100 Hz in specific time periods. Create rhythmic modes of frequency swings to create maximum relief in acutely injured body parts.
  • Relentless Frequency – Expose the patient to certain frequencies for long periods. This approach to IFT is good for getting responses from specific tissues.

Risks of Interferential Therapy IFT

Professional IFT is very safe. Using IFT machines at home can be risky.

  • Users must maintain the machine’s electrodes, electrode covers, and other parts very carefully.
  • They must also be aware of infection risks. Avoid using your IFT machine on multiple people.
  • Use larger electrode systems. Electrode positioning is challenging with small electrodes. Large electrodes ensure suitable coverage of injured areas of the body for stimulation.
  • IFT machines with closely spaced electrodes often cause patients to suffer from superficial tissue irritation.
  • Higher stimulation frequencies pass easily through the skin. Lower frequencies require a lot of electrical energy input. They are unable to reach deeper tissues. They create uneasiness in the superficial tissues and the skin. Higher the stimulation frequency, the lower the discomfort from the currents.

Benefits of Interferential Therapy IFT

There are two ways the beat frequency currents from IFT machines help. Firstly, they stimulate the injured muscles to contract. Secondly, they heal the nerves that carry pain sensations. That’s why IFT is beneficial for -

  • Providing instantaneous pain relief to deep tissue injuries.
  • Nonstop contraction of muscles creates relaxing effects. When spasmodic muscles relax, our blood circulation improves.
  • Better blood circulation leads to faster soft tissue repair.
  • Contraction of muscles reduces swelling, bruising, and inflammation.
  • The vibrations eliminate the negative substances such as toxins from the affected areas.
  • Increasing muscle stimulation improves patients’ metabolic rates.
  • Healthier blood circulation also leads to decreasing blood pressure
  • It’s easier to treat chronic and painful ligament injuries with this non-invasive therapy.
  • Constant therapy from IFT machines also eliminates long-term joint movement restrictions.
  • Post-surgery IFT therapy helps patients restore their lost movement of muscles.

Interferential Therapy IFT is Used to Treat What Conditions? 

The benefits of IFT apply to many painful conditions. Some of them include:

  • Cervical Spondylosis – IFT therapy helps cure degenerative osteoarthritis of the neck and spine. It cures muscle spasms and gradually decreases the amount of pain patients experience.
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis – IFT therapy can cure inflammatory arthritis in the vertebrae. The frequencies prevent wastage buildup in injured locations. Damaged vertebra heals faster.
  • Osteoarthritis of the Knee – Regular IFT therapy loosens the tendons around the knee area. The frequencies also promote the production of endorphins which causes the inflamed muscles and tendons to heal faster.
  • Edema – Patients of this condition have too much watery fluid in their tissues. The vibrations from the frequencies eliminate extra fluids from the tissues. Better circulation also leads to these fluids exiting the affected areas faster.

Some other common conditions IFT therapy can heal frozen shoulder (chronic shoulder pain), rheumatoid arthritis, disc herniation, spinal canal stenosis, and all types of muscle and ligamentous injuries.

Who Shouldn’t Receive Interferential Therapy IFT?

Here are some instances where IFT cannot be used -

  • The patient is pregnant.
  • The patient has epilepsy.
  • The patient has cancer, and the doctor has specifically asked to avoid electrical stimulations.
  • Pre-existing circulatory complications.
  • History of deep vein thrombosis as vacuum electrode applications causes such patients to bruise.
  • Infections, poor skin conditions (e.g., someone who has recently received radiotherapy).

Physiotherapists assess each patient’s clinical needs and diagnoses. They may recommend alternatives to IFT.

How to Prepare for Interferential Therapy IFT? 

IFT is safe and painless. It’s by far the safest form of physical therapy involving electrical stimulation. However, patients must prepare for –

  • Attachment of electrode pads to the body. Physiotherapists typically attach four electrode pads to injured areas. Patients must keep these areas clean and dry.
  • Expect to experience tingling sensations on the skin for 9 to 15 minutes.
  • Get comfortable with the idea of wires connecting your body to current intensity regulator devices.

Recovery: What happens after Interferential Therapy IFT? 

Physiotherapists use this therapy as part of more extensive treatment regimes. With constant IFT, patients learn to trigger gentle movements in extremely painful parts of the body. For example, physiotherapists use IFT and recommend exercises to move stiff joints to patients. Such joints are always painful.

Slow movements of the troubled muscles are better than resting. Even low-frequency interference currents from IFT machines can result in short and long-term pain relief. Plus, these frequencies have beneficial effects on our immune systems. Overall, after consistent IFT, the lives of most patients improve drastically.

Related Therapies

The deep penetration technique of IFT makes it unique. Other similar therapy techniques include Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation therapy (TENS) and Electric Muscle Stimulation therapy (EMS). But, IFT is best for accelerating the healing process in damaged muscles.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can IFT help cure musculoskeletal pain?
Yes, many physicians use IFT to treat musculoskeletal pains and spasms.
2. Can I receive IFT with other physical therapies?
Yes, but patients must ask their physiotherapists for approval first.
3. Can IFT help people with metal rods in their limbs?
Yes. IFT increases blood flow, so it can also help people with metal rods in their limbs.

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