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How does iontophoresis help in physical therapy?

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Quick Answer

Iontophoresis helps in physical therapy by easing pain and inflammation, according to About.com. It also decreases muscles spasms and swelling and can help control scar tissue. Iontophoresis also guards against calcium deposits.

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Full Answer

Iontophoresis is a way to get medicines into the body during physical therapy, says About.com. The medication in this case is ionically charged. If the ions in the medication are negative, the physical therapist or doctor uses a negative electric current to force it into the body. This uses the principle that like ions repel each other and ions that have opposite charges attract each other.

Iontophoresis uses direct current, claims About.com. The device has one positive and one negative electrode, and the practitioner applies medicine to one electrode or the other. The physical therapist applies one electrode to the injured area of the body and places the other in another area of the body. The devices pushes the medication into the body. The treatment usually takes between 10 and 20 minutes. Patients claim the sensation feels like anything from a tingling to a bee sting.

Though the patient may experience some redness at the application site, the physical therapist does not apply ice or heat to the area, says About.com. Heat or cold may interfere with the way the medication works.

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