Iontophoresis, a type of electrical stimulation, is now being used in physical therapy. The technology, used primarily to treat hyperhidrosis, a form of excessive sweating, is now being used by physical therapists to treat patients that have scar tissue, swelling, inflammation and even pain.
The method allows ion transfer, via electrical potential, to enter into a person’s soft tissue. There’s also the potential for drug delivery under certain conditions.
Physical therapists are able to use iontophoresis treatment to provide rapid response therapy to specific injury sites to help:
- Offer targeted medication
The treatment works with therapists placing the affected area of the body in water. The machine will send electricity through the water to allow for targeted treatment. The patient will have the electricity level of the machine increased until they feel a tingling sensation. The sensation lets the therapist know that the electricity level is high enough to reach the targeted area.
Safe and painless, iontophoresis needs to be performed by a certified physical therapist to be effective. The treatment usually requires 3 – 5 treatments before the condition is helped. The medication administered will vary based on the person’s condition. Steroids are often administered via iontophoresis.
Therapists work closely with physicians to ensure that their patients have the necessary prescriptions to treat their condition. The therapist may obtain a new prescription on your behalf. If you provide a prescription, you can be confident that your therapist will still contact your physician to confirm the prescription.
Electrodes are attached to the body, allowing the electrical current to pass into the body.
Treatments last up to 20 minutes, depending on the amount of medication that is required. The skin will be inspected when the treatment is done. Patients often notice reddening of the skin in the area where the treatment was performed.
Physical therapists will provide you with care instructions following the treatment.
It’s often advised to not try and soothe the area that is red. Ice and heat treatments may have an impact on circulation, which will impact the treatment’s effectiveness. Physical therapists will provide their patients with instructions on when to come in for subsequent treatments.
The treatment needs to be carried out by a certified, well-known physical therapist.
There have been reports of physical therapists being sued for botched treatments. One case, based in Maryland, claims that the physical therapist’s negligence left a patient with permanent injuries. The patient states that she ended up with pain and suffered injuries, including sympathetic dystrophy from botched treatment.
She had to pursue additional procedures to help her retain to a normal lifestyle, but she has still incurred injuries that are expected to impact her for the rest of her life. She is suing for lost wages, medical bills and compensation.
The lawsuit shows the importance of iontophoresis being carried out by a professional who is properly trained, experienced and versed in the technology. Botched treatments can lead to permanent injuries that cannot be reversed.
The treatment, when properly conducted, is known to be very effective for medication delivery to impact areas of the body.