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What Are the Different Types of Electrotherapy Equipment?

Andrew Kirmayer
Updated May 17, 2024
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Electrotherapy is the use of electricity to treat various medical conditions. While it has been used for thousands of years, medical equipment has been developed that is often part of treatments for conditions that cause pain and fatigue, such as fibromyalgia. The various kinds of electrotherapy equipment typically include devices that send pulses of electricity to muscles and nerves. One kind is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machine. Other machines are connected to needles that are inserted into the skin, are designed for use around the head, or can help therapists determine whether treatments are working or not.

There is a variety of electrotherapy equipment that is used in a medical clinic, as well as some kinds that are made to be used at home. A TENS system typically includes an electric signal generator, a battery, and electrodes that attach to the skin, from which a current can flow from. Sometimes a felt pad is used on the body to deliver electricity instead of electrodes. The electricity is often thought to block the pain in certain areas from getting to the brain. Some of these systems are programmable and have computers that store different treatments in memory, so clinics can treat multiple patients.

Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (PENS) often has a similar equipment setup to a TENS device. It typically features needles that are inserted under the skin, so the procedure is usually performed by a physician or an acupuncturist. Another device includes electrodes that attach to the earlobes, passing electrical current through the head. These Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) devices can be used at home like TENS machines. Muscle stimulators, often used by chiropractors and sports trainers, as well as laser therapy systems and massage therapy devices, are often considered types of electrotherapy equipment.

Electrotherapy supplies can also include boards for making electrical connections. One can often find these at hardware shops, and they typically connect sockets, switches and other parts that provide control when operating electrotherapy equipment. There are also smaller electrostimulation devices that can be portable and battery powered.

Replacement pads and electrodes are generally types of electrotherapy equipment that machine owners and clinics may need from time to time. Flat screen monitors for displaying patient vital signs may be integrated with treatments as well. Physical therapists have often claimed to see improvements in blood flow and pain relief using various types of electrotherapy, while research hasn't found much scientific evidence that such treatments are effective. Such procedures have often been used to treat sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression, as well as multiple sclerosis.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Andrew Kirmayer
By Andrew Kirmayer , Former Writer
Andrew Kirmayer, a freelance writer with his own online writing business, creates engaging content across various industries and disciplines. With a degree in Creative Writing, he is skilled at writing compelling articles, blogs, press releases, website content, web copy, and more, all with the goal of making the web a more informative and engaging place for all audiences.

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Andrew Kirmayer

Andrew Kirmayer

Former Writer

Andrew Kirmayer, a freelance writer with his own online writing business, creates engaging content across various...
Learn more
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