Electrotherapies are a useful treatment tool in a multi-modal approach to healing alongside manual therapies.  Electrotherapy is a general term used to describe treatment using electrical methods, where electrical forces are applied to the body resulting in a physiological change.

Benefits of Electrotherapy

  • Helps optimise the body’s natural healing process

  • Promotes healthy tissue regeneration

  • Increases circulation

  • Reduces scar tissue formation and helps dissipate existing scar tissue

  • Pain relief


Phototherapy (Low-level Laser Therapy)

Phototherapy works on a cellular level to provide pain relief, reduce inflammation and swelling. Two different laser types may be utilised for therapeutic purposes. The Infra-Red Laser is primarily used for wound healing, or repair of superficial ligament, joint capsule, and muscle and tendon damage. The physiological effects of phototherapy may also provide a significant amount of pain relief to the animal when used over effected nerve roots. Blue light laser has been shown to have an antibacterial effect and is often used alongside other electrotherapies for the treatment of potentially contaminated wounds or post-surgery.


Therapeutic Ultrasound

Ultrasound is a very useful electrotherapy for reducing scar tissue formation in soft tissues like muscles. Due to its ability to penetrate deep tissues and internal structures of the body it is extremely useful in aiding the healing process of joints and ligaments.


Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF)

PEMF is an excellent modality to use due to its flexibility in treatment type dependent on the frequency settings used. One of the main benefits of PEMF is a substantial analgesic (pain relieving) effect on the animal that will last for some time between treatment sessions. PEMF promotes healing in all soft tissues, but is also effective in promoting bony union in traumatic fracture cases.

Alongside healing, PEMF may also be used to increase circulation in muscles in preparation for intense exercise, which is particularly popular amongst canine and equine athletes.


Transcutaneous Electrical Neuro Stimulation (TENS)

TENS is commonly used for its analgesic (pain relief) effect post traumatic injury or major surgery. Pain relief occurs by stimulating the animal’s natural pain reducing endorphins.

Other Electrotherapies

  • Electro Muscular Stimulation (EMS)

  • H-Wave


Cryotherapy (Cold)

  • Ice packs, ice massage, water irrigation

  • Reduce tissue inflammation following sudden trauma or surgery

  • Minor analgesic properties due to peripheral nerve stimulation, and swelling reduction



  • Heat packs or warm water

  • Minor analgesic properties for the treatment of chronic conditions of joints and muscles

  • Reduces muscle spasm and increases circulation

© Alexandra Martin and amartinvetphysio 2019