What Is High Frequency Electrotherapy Treatment?

You may be wondering just what is high-frequency electrical stimulation. You've probably heard the term thrown around before and are curious about its potential.

Don't worry if you're confused by technical jargon; this article will explain electrotherapy frequencies to you in a way that's simple and easy to understand.

All electrotherapies send electrical currents into your skin. However, they don't all act the same way. Simply put, a higher frequency current will penetrate deeper into your skin.

High-frequency currents in electrotherapy help prevent your body from acclimating to the treatment. Your body is unable to adapt because the current is rapidly turning on and off again.

High-frequency electrotherapy treatment is not necessarily any better or worse than other types of treatments. The only thing that's completely clear is that your body is less resistant to it.

Some people may find that it helps to have the extra level of penetration, and for others, it might not help at all.

Types of Frequencies and Their Ranges

Electrotherapy treatments fall into different frequency ranges. Frequency is a measure in cycles per second, also known as Hertz or Hz.

  • Galvanic treatment is the slowest; in fact, it has a frequency of zero, since it produces a constant current and does not cycle at all. Galvanic Electrotherapy is mostly used in the beauty industry to renew old or damaged skin.
  • Faradic also known as EMS is next. It has a frequency range of 50 – 100 Hz. EMS is mostly used for muscular therapy and muscle toning. It’s not necessarily a pain relief device, though it can be if you’re experiencing muscle soreness.
  • Microcurrent therapy can be the next highest frequency. It has the ability to range from slow to high frequencies, from .1 – 680 Hz. Microcurrents affect your tissues on a cellular level and promote your body’s natural healing response.
  • High-Frequency electrotherapy offers the highest frequencies available. This type of therapy falls into the range of 100,000 – 250,000 Hz.

Where Do TENS Units Stand?

TENS units do not offer high-frequency electrical stimulation. Their frequencies typically range from 1 - 250 Hz depending on which model you have.

Are you concerned that TENS machines don’t have high-frequency capabilities? Don’t be.

There is no real evidence that high-frequency electrotherapy works any better, other than its ability to prevent your body from acclimating to the treatment.

However, that is not usually a problem as you won’t be wearing the TENS device for a long enough period of time to acclimate to it.

TENS units have a wide enough frequency range of their own that you can find several frequency settings that you like. In the event that you do acclimate, simply switch to a different frequency. For a review of tens units for home use, check out this comparison page.

TENS units are designed for pain relief, and there is a reason why they function at a lower frequency. If pain relief is your goal, a TENS unit is the safest bet.


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