Therapeutic modalities help reduce pain, promote healing, and augment your physical therapy program.  In conjunction with therapeutic exercise, neuromuscular re-education, and manual therapy techniques, modalities can be helpful tools to lead you to recovery.  Here are some common modalities used in physical therapy:


  • Ultrasound: Sound waves are transmitted into deep heat to promote circulation and healing to injured tendons, muscles, and soft tissue.


  • Electrical Stimulation: A variety of electrical stimulation methods are used to reduce pain and inflammation, propogate healing, promote muscle/nerve firing, and even give biofeedback.


  • Heat: Moist heat can help relax muscles, stimulate circulation, and prepare your body for further treatment.


  • Ice: Mainly used for acute injuries, ice can help reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain by numbing the area.


  • Paraffin Wax: Sometimes heating the hands or feet can be difficult, but with paraffin wax consisting of mineral oils, you can get the same benefits of moist heat without the hassle.


  • Iontophoresis: Topical medications are transported through the skin using an electrical current.  Iontophoresis is often used to reduce localized inflammation or break up mineral deposits.


  • Traction: A distraction or pull of spinal segments can help alleviate neural tension and pain as well as reduce muscle spasm.  This can also be done manually by your physical therapist.


  • Phonophoresis: Like iontophoresis, this modality drives in topical medication, but by using ultrasound rather than electrical current.  It can help enhance the effect of anti-inflammatory medication.


  • Light Therapy: Lasers are used to emit light to an injured site in hopes of producing cellular energy to encourage the repair process.


Although research can be inconsistent in regards to their clinical efficacy, these modalities can be helpful in certain individual patient cases.  That said, feel free to ask your Wallace & Nilan Physical Therapist about which modalities may benefit you and why.