Iontophoresis is an effective short-term treatment for inflammatory problems occurring in damaged muscles and tendons, which simply calms down the inflammation to the point where healing of the affected area can take place. This treatment involves the use of an electrical field to deliver medication through the skin and into underlying tissues. The medication is charged so that it’s pushed into the skin by an active electrode, and its molecules are small enough that it “soaks” into the affected area.
Iontophoresis and phonophoresis are technologies that are capable of enhancing drug penetration through the skin.
Phonophoresis uses ultrasonic waves to transmit molecules of a drug through the skin, as opposed to iontophoresis, which uses low-level electric current. Both techniques are used to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, bursitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Iontophoresis: Many ionic drugs are available including several antivirals, various antibiotics, and other specific drugs. Iontophoresis of ionized drugs provided a 20-60 fold increase in penetration over topical application.
Examples of successful applications of iontophoresis include:
- treatment of inflammation/pain of muscles and tendons
- rapid, noninvasive local anesthesia
- relief of heel pain
- controlling the pain
- relief of pain from rheumatoid arthritis
- relief of pain associated with plantar fasciitis
- improvement of jaw function in TMJ Patients
- an alternative to steroid injections
- treatment for scar and tendon adhesions
Phonophoresis combines ultrasound with topical drug therapy to achieve therapeutic drug concentrations at target sites below the skin. A gel containing medications such as corticosteroids, local anesthetics, electrolytes, or antibiotics is applied to the treatment area and then massaged with a transducer head. The technique has been widely used in sports medicine since the 1960s by podiatrists, orthopedists, and physical therapists.