How Iontophoresis Is Used in Physical Therapy
is a type of electrical stimulation treatment used to deliver medication across your skin to deeper tissues. Physical therapists occasionally use iontophoresis to deliver different types of medication to injured body parts.
How It Works
Iontophoresis works by using electricity to push medication through your skin and into your injured tissues. This works by using basic ideas of electrical polarity. The medication used in iontophoresis is in a solution with a specific type of polarity (either positive or negative). Remember, opposite polarity attracts, and negative polarity repels.
For example, dexamethasone, a common anti-inflammatory medication, may be placed in a solution with negative polarity. When electricity from the negative electrode of an electrical stimulation device is applied to the dexamethasone, the medication will be repelled by the electrical charge. This helps to drive the medication into your skin and underlying tissues.
What It Feels Like
When your physical therapist decides to administer medication via iontophoresis, he or she should explain to you the risks and benefits associated with the procedure. He or she will then place two electrodes on your skin. One electrode will simply have saline on it, and the other electrode will be the treatment electrode with the medication. The electrodes will be connected to an iontophoresis unit via a wire.
Your PT will then turn on the iontophoresis unit and slowly increase the intensity of the electricity that is passing through the electrodes. This electricity helps to drive the medication in through your skin and to your tissues. Once the electricity is turned up, you may feel a slight tingling or stinging sensation under the electrodes.
Be sure to tell your physical therapist if you feel any discomfort or pain during the procedure. He or he can make adjustments to the electricity to make it more comfortable for you.
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