What is IFT? & What does it mean
Interferential Therapy or (IFT) is one of several types of electrotherapy treatments that use electric current to stimulate tissue which causes pain relief, reduction of swelling,
IFT is thought to work by stimulating parasympathetic nerve fibres to increase blood flow and reduce oedema, by passing currents across cell membranes.
Using specific frequencies in the range, different systems within the body can be stimulated or used to increase the blood supply, which in turn hastens the healing rate.
The following article will answer common questions about IFT, including what it is, what problems it can treat and how, the possible side-effects, the benefits of using a frequency sweep, and the benefits of using an IFT machine at home.
In the USA, Interferential Therapy is approved for the symptomatic relief and management of chronic (long-term) intractable, post-traumatic and post-surgical pain. Many medical professionals use Interferential Therapy for its drug-free, non-invasive promotion of healing and pain relief. IFT in physiotherapy has become incredibly popular due to the ease of use, lack of side effects and the amazing feedback from people suffering from a variety of different conditions.
It has been shown that multiple daily treatments provide improved results.
Home treatment can help reduce pain, medication, and edema.
Interferential Machines can be used to treat pain associated with:
- Back, Neck, and Shoulder Pain
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Spondylitis and Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Bruising and Swelling
- Postoperative Pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Joint Injuries
- Overuse Injuries and Surgical Procedures
- Edema and Inflammation
- Tennis Elbow
- Sports Injuries
How Interferential Therapy works
Unlike TENS machines, which delivers intermittent pulses to stimulate surface nerves and block the pain signal, IFT machines deliver a continuous stimulation deep into the affected tissue. The stimulation both blocks pain and reduces swelling and inflammation which can cause pain.
IFT achieves the deep penetration by using a 4000Hz carrier wave to overcome the skin impedance.
4 pole interferential works by putting two signals into the tissue at slightly different frequencies. Where they cross over, the two signals “interfere” to produce a lower frequency, therapeutic current. In theory, this interference current is generated in the pattern shown in the diagram. In practice, the tissues do not conduct uniformly, so the currents rarely interfere in the expected target area. Therapists commonly use moveable electrodes to “hunt” for the best electrode positions.
This is a slight issue for un-trained home use. Many patients find just positioning and connecting up to four electrodes a problem, without having to optimise the position.
Some expensive machines use vectored fields. These are a partial solution to this problem as they constantly move the interference zone around the volume between the electrodes, but this means that treatment is only delivered to the affected area for part of the treatment time.
In Bipolar mode, the Flexistim overcomes these problems
Early IFT units used analogue circuits and were limited in the waveforms they could produce. The Flexistim & Flexistim IF uses digital waveform generation to produce true sinusoidal bipolar IFT. This uses a 4000 Hz carrier wave but delivers an amplitude modulated, low-frequency signal to the whole area between the electrodes - not just the interference pattern.
We have spent a lot of time and effort in developing our IFT machines to overcome the problems patients have with using the device.
Our IFT machines are industry standard. This can be intimidating for some people.
We understand this!
That's why we have a dedicated staff who are deeply knowledgeable on all electrotherapy machines.
Feel free to get in contact with us for more information Contact us Here
Effects of Interference Frequencies
Physiotherapists believe that the low-frequency interference currents have the following effects:
2Hz - Around this frequency, the metencephalins are stimulated - resulting in short term pain relief.
10Hz -This frequency has a beneficial effect on the immune system and tends to make patients wakeful yet relaxed.
130Hz - This frequency stimulates the production of endorphins and results in longer-term pain relief and some local anaesthesia.
1-100Hz - This frequency sweep will increase the inflammatory rate.
45 – 90Hz - This frequency sweep will depress the sympathetic nervous system so allowing the increased activity of the parasympathetic system, and increase the blood supply.
Interferential Therapy as part of a treatment regime
The use of IFT should be considered a part of the whole treatment of the condition.
The whole treatment may include:
• Exercises to stretch injured muscles
• Exercises to move stiff joints
• Exercises to strengthen muscle groups to support the joints
Your physiotherapist will advise you accordingly.
Stiff joints are invariably painful so it is important to appreciate that gentle movement is generally better than resting.
A TENS unit, which also treats pain using electrotherapy, can be used simultaneously if you need extra pain control to enable you to keep the joints or muscles moving.
We understand that physiotherapists can be expensive. But how much would you pay for perfect health?
Many people love our IFT units because it removes the hassle of travelling back and forth to the physiotherapist for them just to use an ift machine.
Being able to treat your condition at home is an invaluable ability.
Imagine having your physio at home or if you could bring your physio to work.
Many of our customers frequently report complete or nearly complete pain relief.
Providing a product that delivers pain relief without needing drugs is a proud achievement for us and we want the world to know!
If you suffer from chronic pain I would recommend you read the article we just wrote about the options of pain relief. Click here to give it a read
CAUTIONS AND WARNINGS
The same cautions apply to IFT as to TENS.
However, because of the deep penetration of the IFT signals, additional caution should be taken not to place electrodes so that the current could flow through the heart.
The maximum current density is below recommended safe levels which might affect heart rhythm, but it is best to prevent even the smallest avoidable risk.
Clin J (2003) The Effects of Home Interferential Therapy on Post-Operative Pain, Edema, and Range of Motion of the Knee. Sport Med. 13, 16–20.
Jarit, Mohr, Waller & Glousman
Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.