Benefits of Heat, Ice, Electrical Stimulation and Ultrasound During Rehab


While therapeutic exercise is one of the most effective forms of physical rehab, it is often aided by numerous other forms like electrical stimulation and ultrasound. Rehab specialists will use various modalities to reduce pain, reduce inflammation, and restore normal function.

In this article, we’ll examine the benefits of heat, ice, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound during physical rehab.

The Use of Ultrasound

Ultrasound has been approved for use by the FDA. It has a wide variety of uses, including but isn’t limited to thrombus dissolution, fracture healing, and the treatment of epicondylitis. Ultrasound therapy uses what’s called a hand-held transducer, which is moved across in a circular motion over the affected area. The transducer is responsible for producing the ultrasound waves, which can’t be heard by humans, but those waves tend to go into the muscles, tendons, and other bodily tissue improving blood flow and effectively speeding up the healing process.

The biggest benefit from a patient’s standpoint of Ultrasound therapy is that it does not cause any stinging or odd sensations like perhaps electrical stimulation. Most people may not feel anything beyond just mild vibrations.

Electrical Stimulation

Electrical stimulation is also referred to as E-stim and is a term used for many modalities that involve the use of electrodes attached to the skin. Electrical stimulation modalities are used for both pain relief as well as improving functional aspects of the body. It is also found to be effective at treating neurological disorders. In fact, in the past couple of years, therapists have successfully used electrical stimulation to help facilitate patients with Bell’s palsy.

Heat Therapy

Dry heat has been used as a treatment for various chronic and subacute injuries for a very long time. It is excellent at alleviating delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). However, unlike ultrasound or some of the other deep heating methods, the use of dry heat affects the skin, fat, and some other superficial tissues. The local effects are a great way to relieve pain, improve mobility and allow for short-term pain-free movement.

Moist Heat Treatment

It is another excellent form of superficial heat therapy that entails the use of damp-heat packs on the affected area. It works very similarly to dry heat, but several studies suggest that this form of heat application helps it penetrate deeper and faster, facilitating functional improvements.

The Use of Cold Therapy

Cold or ice therapy helps reduce inflammation and blood flow, usually during what’s termed the acute phase. It can be instrumental in preventing swelling of the injured muscle or joint, usually following rigorous exercise.


The decision to use any one of these therapies is with an expert therapist. A Physical therapist will know exactly what combination of treatments is needed to deliver the best results. That’s why if you have a physical issue like torn tendon, strained muscles, etc., feel free to consult with us today. Call us today to find out more.