What is Electrotherapy & How It Works On Muscles?

29 September 2022
Doctor Saad M. Halimi
Reviewed by Dr. Saad M. Halimi
Written by Anastasia Lesnikova

    While many of us are happy with the way our bodies look, it’s fair to say that loving your body can be a challenge. Not to mention, achieving the physique of your dreams can be difficult. Even if you work out consistently and eat all the right things, it is not uncommon to hit a roadblock at some point or another. In some cases, this roadblock may be an injury.

    If you are suffering from an injury, you may be limited in the types of activities you can perform. While rest is paramount, being unable to get back into your usual routine can lead to a downward spiral of increasingly poor physical and mental health. 

    However, the good news is that with innovative electrotherapy treatments, it is now possible to speed up the recovery process and improve physical functioning. This revolutionary treatment does more than just alleviate pain, it can be applied to all parts of the body to stimulate the muscles and enhance muscle recruitment, growth, volume and strength. Additionally, it can improve facial and body tone. If you’re dealing with soreness, VIP Italia’s treatments could help you manage your pain and other symptoms.

    What Is Electrotherapy Treatment?

    Electrotherapy is a medical treatment that involves the application of electrical impulses to the injured area to reduce pain and promote healing. These electrical signals send messages to the brain that can interfere with the transmission of neural pain signals. In other words, these signals distract or slow down the message from the nerve to the brain.

    Electrotherapy provides an effective treatment for physiotherapy and can be used for:

    • Muscle rehabilitation
    • Increasing local blood circulation
    • Electrical muscle stimulation
    • Relaxing of muscle spasms
    • Maintaining and increasing range of motion
    • Managing chronic pain
    • Wound healing
    • Musculoskeletal conditions

    What is Electrotherapy & How It Works
    Vip Italia's Electrotherapy Treatment

    When Was Electrotherapy First Used?

    Electrical stimulation has been used as a form of pain relief for centuries. The first recorded instance of a patient being treated with electricity was by Johann Gottlob Krüger in 1743. His experiments marked the beginning of efforts to incorporate electricity into the treatment of clinical conditions. Shortly after, John Wesley suggested that electricity was a remedy that could cure all conditions, though his claims were largely rejected by mainstream medicine at the time. Similarly, Giovanni Aldini attempted to treat insanity with static electricity during the early 1820s.

    Electrotherapy only started to gain mainstream recognition and acceptance in the mid-19th century when Golding Bird, a British medical doctor, made innovations in the medical use of electricity. In 1965, Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall released a publication that described the Gate-Control theory. This theory suggests that pain signals go through ‘gates’ made of nerve fibres as they travel through the spinal cord. These signals are either transmitted to the body or blocked. Essentially, this theory suggests that electrodes can be used to stimulate gates to block pain signals.

    Over time, there was a shift away from delivering large electrical impulses to the whole body to more measured doses. In 1974, Clyde Normal Shealy, an American neurosurgeon, developed a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit. This unit uses adhesive electrodes that attach to the skin and direct mild electrical impulses to the affected areas to offer pain relief.

    The Different Types of Electrotherapy

    Electrotherapy is designed to reduce pain, promote healing and improve blood circulation. Having said that, it is worth noting that not all forms of electrotherapy are suitable for different conditions and injuries. While there are similarities between devices, electrotherapy treatments can vary in effect, waveform and frequency. With this in mind, it is important to understand the differences between each treatment.

    Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

    One of the most common electrotherapy treatments is TENS. It involves the stimulation of sensory nerves through the use of electrodes that deliver pulses of electrical energy to reduce pain. Generally, TENS is used to treat chronic pain and nerve pain conditions.

    One of the benefits of TENS is that it helps to release endorphins, improving the mood and increasing pain relief. It is worth noting that TENS is best used to treat localised pain, as opposed to large areas.

    Interferential Current Therapy (IFC)

    IFC is often used as an alternative to TENS, allowing for deeper muscle penetration with minimal discomfort. IFC involves the stimulation of muscles through the use of low-frequency electrical stimulation. It is also designed to increase blood flow and offer pain relief

    Therapeutic Ultrasound

    As opposed to using electrode pads, therapeutic ultrasounds involve the use of a transducer, an electronic device that converts energy from one form to another. Electrical energy is converted into heat to boost circulation and facilitate the healing of muscles, ligaments and tendons.

    Shockwave Therapy

    Similarly, shockwave therapy makes use of a transducer. This treatment is designed to reduce pain and promote healing. Plus, it helps to promote the production of collagen and reduce inflammation. Shockwave therapy is useful for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinopathy.


    Traditionally, acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles at specific points to target various bodily systems and organs. Electroacupuncture, on the other hand, makes use of two needles with an electrical current passing between them. This is an ideal treatment for acute pain.

    Benefits Of Electrical Stimulation Therapy

    If you are looking to strengthen your muscles, electrotherapy treatments can help you on the road to recovery. Here are some of the benefits of electrical stimulation therapy.

    1. Non-Invasive

    If you are dealing with a serious injury, pain medication usually offers the most immediate and accessible form of relief. However, pain medications can be addictive and cause adverse side effects, such as a weakened immune system and nausea. Not to mention, your body may require more of the drug to feel the same effect over time. The good news is that electrotherapy provides a non-invasive and safe alternative to pain-relieving medication. In some cases, electrotherapy can prevent the need for further invasive treatments such as surgery.

    2. Targets Nerve Pain

    If you suffer from nerve pain, you may experience muscle weakness, numbness, tingling or even burning. Such symptoms can make it difficult to carry out day-to-day activities and keep life ticking over as normal. In such cases, TENS machines provide an effective way of targeting and reducing nerve pain by blocking pain signals.

    "Since 2005, I have been using VIP Italia’s Transion and Isogei technology to treat low back pain. In order to avoid any discomfort, I applied an electrical current to the area. This safely reduced the patient’s belly circumference and improved the tone of their abdominal muscles. In turn, electrotherapy helped to reduce the force applied to the discs and alleviate lower back pain".

    Dr Saad M. Halimi explains
    What is Electrotherapy & How It Works
    Vip Italia's Electrotherapy Treatment

    3. Enhances Fitness Levels

    Studies have shown that electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) can significantly improve the strength levels of trained and elite athletes, even if they already have high levels of fitness. This is promising news for those looking for an effective alternative to strength training. More than that, EMS has been proven to reduce recovery time.

    4. Tones The Body

    Research shows that, without modifying their exercise or diet, EMS helped to improve the body tone of young women. In this study, a series of electrodes were placed on the stomachs of a group of women for 30 minutes to deliver high-frequency current therapy. After three sessions per week for six weeks, the researchers found that EMS improved the tone and appearance of the body

    It is worth noting that electrical stimulation is not a remedy for weight loss. Instead, it is an ideal solution for those who are close to their ideal weight but need help removing stubborn areas of fat. Likewise, electrical stimulation provides a safer solution for those looking for a BBL.

     5. Stimulates Healing

    Certain electrotherapy treatments can be used to treat a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions, from tennis elbow and shoulder pain to plantar fasciitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Part of this process involves increasing blood flow to the affected area through electrical stimulation, which helps to promote healing. 

    Additionally, electrotherapy is ideal for treating sports injuries, such as sprains and strains. As healthy circulation is central to the healing process, it is important to ensure that the injured area receives the necessary nutrients. Electrotherapy can help to enhance blood flow, improving the body’s ability to heal and repair tissue.

    Researchers investigated the role of electrical stimulation in wound healing and found that a higher proportion of wounds healed in 14 out of 16 randomised clinical trials when electrical stimulation was used to treat wounds. This highlights that electrical stimulation can accelerate wound healing.

    The Key Takeaway

    Advancements in technology have transformed the way that electricity is used to treat various conditions. Electrotherapy does more than just provide a non-invasive treatment that helps to relieve pain and promote healing. It also helps to improve overall fitness and body tone, allowing you to feel like your best self, both internally and externally.

    There is no one size fits all approach to pain management. With electrotherapy, you can find the right solution to help speed up your recovery and keep life ticking over as normal - whether that be TENS, IFC, therapeutic ultrasound or even shockwave therapy.

    With over 50 years of experience in the non-invasive beauty device industry, VIP Italia has built a wealth of knowledge in the field of electrotherapy. We excel at creating high-end aesthetic products that allow trained professionals to offer accessible treatment options that relieve pain and help people achieve their ideal bodies. We also provide extensive training courses on all of our devices. Simply get in touch today to learn more about our current range.


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    What is the purpose of electrotherapy?

    Electrotherapy for muscles is used to help speed up recovery times, increasing local blood circulation and muscle rehabilitation. The electrical stimulation our devices produce helps to reduce pain and to improve physical functions. It is a useful treatment option for a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, sports injuries, neurological conditions, and musculoskeletal disorders.


    Could you provide an example of electrotherapy?

    Physical therapists can turn to electrotherapy through different methods, including:

    • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
    • Interferential Current Therapy (IFC)
    • Therapeutic Ultrasound
    • Shockwave Therapy
    • Electroacupuncture
    What effect does electrotherapy have on muscles?

    Electrotherapy focuses on stimulating muscle contractions using electrical impulses. The muscle responds by contracting and relaxing to the rhythm of the electric pulses. These muscle contractions can help to improve muscle strength and function and increase local circulation with more blood being sent to the chosen area. Electrotherapy can also stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers produced by the body.

    When is electrotherapy recommended?

    This treatment option is recommended for those who are experiencing chronic pain or battling musculoskeletal injuries. Electrotherapy is also able to help:

    • Restore muscle function
    • Enhance regional blood flow
    • Alleviate muscle spasms
    • Sustain and improve joint mobility
    • Improve persistent pain
    • Facilitate tissue repair
    • Treat musculoskeletal disorders

    However, it is important to consult a doctor to ensure if electrotherapy is appropriate for your specific condition.


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