Category: Allied Health Options
Injury Type: Acute
What is it?
Ultra-reiz, also called ultra-stimulation current, is an interrupted direct current of low frequency (143 Hz) applied via medium sized electrodes supported on a thick moist viscose sponge. These electrodes are placed near the spinal column along the neck and upper back region. The electrodes are separated from each other by a distance of 3-4 cms.
How does it work?
The current is passed through electrodes placed on the body. The intensity of the current is gradually increased short of pain. The feeling should be a pronounced but a comfortable 'tingling' sensation ('comfortably strong'). By doing this, the optimum current strength specific to the patient is found. The intensity of the current is slowly increased in the first few minutes as patients get used to the sensation. It is thought that this current provides pain relief, reduces muscle spasm and increases blood flow. All these ensure patients get relief from pain and help in the healing of injured tissues.
Is it effective?
There is only one study which investigated ultra-reiz current. In this small study ultra-reiz current was used in addition to ice, home exercise program and advice for whiplash patients. The findings from this study indicate that after receiving this treatment, patients who were suffering from short term whiplash had good pain relief and increased neck movement. However, this effect was not sustained six months after the treatment.
Are there any disadvantages?
This type of treatment may not be applicable for everyone. Some people may not tolerate the sensation of the current. While not serious, some people may also report tiredness after the treatment.
Where do you get it?
This type of treatment is usually provided by a registered health professional, usually a Physiotherapist.
As there is very little evidence to support the effectiveness of this treatment, it cannot be recommended for all patients suffering from whiplash. More research is needed to identify its full effects, either on its own or when provided in conjunction with other treatments.
- Hendriks, O & Horgan, A 1996, 'Ultra-Reiz Current as an Adjunct to Standard Physiotherapy Treatment of the Acute Whiplash Patient', Physiotherapy Ireland, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 3-7.
- Verhagen, A, Scholten-Peeters, G, Van Wijngaarden, S, De Bie, R & Bierma-Zeinstra, S 2007, 'Conservative treatments for whiplash', Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 2, Art. No.: CD003338. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003338.pub3.