Interferential Current Therapy (IFC)

What is interferential current therapy (IFC)?

Interferential current therapy (IFC) is a treatment used to relieve pain, decrease inflammation, decrease muscle knots or spasms, and aid in restoring motion and soft tissue healing. It produces electrical currents that pass through the affected area of the body which decrease swelling, reduce pain, and decrease muscle spasms. The uncomfortableness of a frozen shoulder or pinched nerves can be altered by this therapy, stimulating circulation and promoting soft-tissue healing.

What are the benefits of IFC?

This therapy has a number of therapeutic physiological effects in addition to treating the affected area, including

  • An increase in localized blood flow, which can improve healing by reducing swelling (the additional blood flowing through the area takes edematous fluid away with it). It also helps to remove damaged tissue, bring nutrients necessary for healing to the injured area, increase the permeability of the cells, and improve venous and lymphatic systems.
  • The stimulation of local nerve cells, which can have a pain-reducing/anaesthetic effect by potentially blocking the transmission of the pain signals (pain gate mechanism) at the spinal cord level. It can also stimulate the release of pain reducing endorphins (opioid mechanism).
  • Muscle stimulation, which allows the muscle spasm to decrease and overcome some of the muscle inhibition, often caused by local injury and swelling.

What can I expect during treatment?

The electrical current is applied to the affected area using four electrodes. The four electrodes are placed in such a way that the two currents produced cross each other in the affected area. For example, when treating a knee injury, the two currents can be applied so that they cross deep within the knee joint. The two currents meet in the centre. Visualize the letter X; the greatest electrical impulses are at the intersection of the letter X.

There is no discomfort from the application of the interferential current. A damp sponge is placed between the electrode and the patient’s skin, which allows the current to pass through to the body. If discomfort is felt, it is usually because the current is turned too high and needs to be adjusted slightly.

During treatment, patients feel a tingling or “pins and needles” sensation at the contact area of the sponges, and may feel a tingling sensation throughout the area being treated. This sensation may continue for a brief period following treatment as well. The intensity of the current is increased within the patient’s comfort level. A stronger current will usually have a more beneficial effect, but the intensity should not be turned up so high as to cause pain.