Physical Therapy Tools at OSC: Modalities

We’re going to take a look at all the tools and treatments available at OSC’s on-site physical therapy facility. First up: modalities.

Physical therapy modalities are therapeutic tools involving applied physical agents like heat, cold, electricity, etc., that are used to relieve pain, improve circulation, decrease swelling, regain range of motion, and more. Here are some of the treatments you may encounter at OSC’s on-site therapy facility.

Electrical Stimulation

It may sound scary, but electrical stimulation is a very common and effective tool used by physical therapists. It works by attaching electrodes (usually pads adhered to the skin) near the muscles being targeted and stimulating muscles and tissue with electrical currents. Here are the different ways OSC uses electrical stimulation in its therapy methods:

Electromyography Machine

An electromyography machine, or EMG, is a diagnostic tool used to test the health of muscles and nerve cells. EMG machines record the electrical activity of muscles and are helpful in determining different nerve and muscle problems.

TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)

TENS is a therapy that uses low-voltage electrical current for pain relief. It works by sending stimulating pulses across the surface of the skin and along nerve strands, which helps prevent pain signals from reaching the brain.

Russian Electrical Stimulation (Neuromuscular E-Stim)

This type of electrical stimulation is performed in a pulsing, on/off fashion (for example: 4 seconds on, 10 seconds off) with the goal of creating a strong muscle contraction. This therapy is used in muscle strengthening and retraining, and is especially helpful for patients who have undergone knee surgery.

HVPC (High Voltage Pulsed Current)

As its name suggests, this type of electrical stimulation is delivered in very short, doubled pulses at a higher voltage and is used to aid wound healing and pain management.

IFC (Interferential Current)

IFC is used to treat injured tissues in the body by helping to decrease swelling and improve circulation, which helps to speed recovery after an injury or surgery. This therapy uses high frequency signals that penetrate into deeper lying muscle tissue.


Pre-Modulation, or Premod, is similar to IFC therapy, but is used to target smaller muscle groups and soft and connective tissues. This type of therapy is often used in conjunction with other types of manual therapy, like massage and trigger point release.


In physical therapy, ultrasound is used to increase blood flow, reduce swelling and inflammation, and manage pain. It works by passing sound waves into the affected area. The vibrations create heat (though the patient might not feel it), similar to using a heating pad on a sore muscle, but at an internal level.

At OSC, we’re dedicated to providing our patients with the most comprehensive orthopaedic care available. We’re the only orthopaedic clinic in the Inland Northwest with its own dedicated therapy facilities. If you’re in need of care, make an appointment today and find out the OSC difference.