What is Electrotherapy?

Electrotherapy is the use of certain equipment to aid recovery of soft tissues including muscles, tendons and ligaments.  Different modalities are used for different areas of the body, chosen by the type of injury and phase of recovery.  There is extensive evidence that electrotherapy modalities, used alongside more traditional physiotherapy, can aid recovery.  How this occurs is well explained at www.electrotherapy.org if you are interested in the science behind electrotherapy.


Ultrasound (US) is strictly speaking a form of mechanical energy, not electrical energy; a mechanical vibration above the frequency of sound energy. As the energy within the vibration oscillates, the particles of material it passes through begin to vibrate, causing a minimal thermal and a larger non-thermal response.  During the inflammatory phase of an injury, US has a stimulating effect on the cells.  It excites the cells making them do their work faster and thereby accelerating the healing process.  The US works as a pro-inflammation, it doesn’t increase the inflammation but optimises the natural inflammatory response.  Therefore, we would use US for tissue repair and wound healing in the acute phase of an injury when the inflammatory phase is needing encouragement.  On fascia and scar tissue it helps to release adhesions thereby restoring some of the lost tissue elasticity which frees up the surrounding joints to improve movement.  We can use it on ligaments, tendons, fascia, joint capsule and scar tissue.


Laser involves a light being emitted from a single or cluster probe.  When applied to body tissue, it delivers energy at a sufficient level to disturb local electron orbits, resulting in the generation of heat, initiating chemical change and disrupting molecular bonds and producing free radicals.  We use laser for wound healing, inflammatory arthropathies (disease of the joint) soft tissue injuries and pain relief.

Pulsed Shortwave Therapy

The clinical effects of Pulsed Shortwave Therapy (PSWT) is similar to US and Laser, relating to the inflammatory and repair phases in musculoskeletal and soft tissues.  We use PSWT on muscles, nerves, areas of oedema, haematomas, effusion and arthritis.

The key difference to these three modalities is where the energy is absorbed and that affects which modality we choose to use and when we use it.  Physiotherapists Claire and Sarah would carry out a full assessment as to your injury and pain, including the history from you and palpation of the appropriate areas to determine if electrotherapy will aid your recovery and which modality is best for you.  To make an appointment or for further information please complete the contact form.

Total Care Physio, the Physiotherapists for Norwich & South Norfolk contact details:

South Norfolk Clinic
School Lane
NR14 6SL

01508 548535 or
07976 009524

Norwich Clinic
14 Jordan Close

07786 515646

More helpful information:




Total Care Physio are accredited to these professional bodies