What is Iontophoresis & Why is it Used?

Posted by David Farrell on

iontophoresis treatment with electrodes on patient's hand

Iontophoresis is a treatment offered by physical therapists as a therapeutic modality. Using electrical stimulation, the therapist can administer medication into the body through the skin to help the patient. The body part receiving the treatment is submerged into water while mild electrical currents are delivered to the hands, armpits, or feet. While you might feel a slight tingling during your treatment, the current isn’t enough where you will get an electric shock.

There are several uses for iontophoresis, including:

  • Decreasing pain
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Decrease muscle spasm
  • Help with scar tissue
  • Reduce deposits of calcium in the body
  • Reduce Sweating

By reading on, you can learn more about the iontophoresis treatments so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not this is the approach you want to take.

Iontophoresis Treatment Procedure & Questions

Determining The Medication

The first step is for the physical therapist to determine the medication that is going to be used, which will be discussed in further detail in the next section. The iontophoresis patch has a built-in battery that is used to apply this treatment. This patch has two electrodes on it: one for the positive current and the other for the negative current. Depending on the specific medication that is used for the treatment, your physical therapist will apply the current that works best for your situation. This patch is placed on the body, and electrical stimulation is used to get the medication into your body through the skin while you sit there and relax.

Does an Iontophoresis Treatment Hurt? 

Again, you will likely feel some tingling, but you won’t necessarily feel much pain. There are some cases where it does feel like a little bee sting when you get treatment. If this happens, you should mention it to the physical therapist so that they can adjust the treatment to make it better for you. 

How Long Does an Iontophoresis Treatment Last?

These treatments typically only take between 10 and 20 minutes. People with hyperhidrosis may undergo several iontophoresis sessions per week, each lasting about 20 to 40 minutes. The time of the treatment will depend on how much medication is being used for the treatment. As soon as the treatment is over, the electrodes are removed from your skin, and then the therapist will closely inspect your skin. You will likely notice there is redness where the medication and treatment were performed, but this is completely normal. Your physical therapist will let you know if there is anything that you should be concerned with. 

Post-Care Instructions

Before you leave, the physical therapist will give you instructions that must be followed. For instance, they will tell you to avoid heat or ice treatments since the circulation in the treated area may be altered, and the medication may not be as effective. Be sure to ask your physical therapist any questions that you might have about treatment and the aftercare.

Dynatron iBox 2 and ActivaPatch Intophoresis Treatment Patch

Equipment Used During an Iontophoresis Treatment

Iontophoresis treatments consist of using a machine and medication patches. You need to use iontophoresis electrodes as well as a lead wire system for these treatments. The electrodes make it possible to get the medication into the skin in a non-invasive way, rather than using things like injections. 

The other part of this is the patches used for medication. For instance, the ActivaPatch is a technologically advanced solution for administering iontophoresis. This is a great solution because it has eliminated some of the other issues that come up when using other patches as the delivery system for this treatment. It’s important to have a patch that works in order for this treatment to be as effective as possible.

How Effective is This Treatment?

There is evidence that iontophoresis treatments are very effective. For instance, one study took a look at this treatment in regard to juvenile idiopathic arthritis. In this study, it was found that iontophoresis is a highly effective treatment to help relieve the painful symptoms of this condition. It has also been found to be effective in treating a wide variety of other conditions.

Are There Any Side Effects?

It is widely believed that iontophoresis is a safe procedure that has minimal side effects. There may be some slight stinging that you could potentially feel during the treatment. You will likely notice some redness underneath the electrodes after your treatment. Some patients also notice issues like dryness or rough skin in the area where they received treatment. This can be helped by using lotion hours after you have received treatment. Skin reactions are common, but these are primarily mild reactions that don’t require any treatment. 

It’s important to remember that iontophoresis is a passive treatment but to be effective physical therapy treatments do require you to be active in your care. You should still perform those active exercises, as told by your physical therapist. Their strategies should be used in and out of physical therapy in order to be as effective as possible.

Recovering From Your Injuries

While it may only be part of your recovery plan, iontophoresis can be an effective tool in your treatment plan. The physical therapist will use iontophoresis as a tool to effectively administer medicine into your body, allowing you to get back to your usual activities quicker. This can help you better accomplish the exercises that your physical therapist wants you to do in order to better recover from your injuries. By taking an active role in getting better, you are going to improve your chances of recovering from your injuries so that you can get back to your everyday life.

Conclusion

Using various approaches to treatment, patients can get better results for improving their outcomes. Iontophoresis can be a highly effective treatment approach when used in combination with exercises, with minimal side effects to worry about. This is an effective treatment for a wide variety of conditions, from something like excessive sweating to helping with pain and recovering from injuries. The appealing things about iontophoresis is the minimal side effects and how incredibly effective this treatment approach is. If you have been suffering from pain after an injury or some other condition that can be treated with iontophoresis, this is a treatment approach you should consider.


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