A modality is a type of electrical, thermal or mechanical energy that causes physiological changes. It is used to relieve pain, improve circulation, decrease swelling, reduce muscle spasm, and deliver medication in conjunction with other procedures.
Ultrasound is a treatment modality used by physical therapists that utilize high or low frequency sound waves. These sound waves are transmitted to the surrounding tissue and vasculature. They penetrate the muscles to cause deep tissue/muscle warming. This promotes tissue relaxation and therefore is useful in treating muscle tightness and spasms.
Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is the elicitation of muscle contraction using electric impulses. Electrical Stimulation is used by physical therapists for the following uses:
- Relaxation of muscle spasms;
- Prevention or retardation of disuse atrophy;
- Increasing local blood circulation;
- Muscle re-education;
- Immediate post-surgical stimulation of calf muscles to prevent venous thrombosis;
- Maintaining or increasing range of motion.
Spinal traction is a form of decompression therapy that relieves pressure on the spine. It can be performed manually or mechanically. Spinal traction is used to treat herniated discs, sciatica, degenerative disc disease, pinched nerves, and many other back conditions.
Iontophoresis is a treatment technique physical therapists use by introducing ionic medicinal compounds into the body through the skin by applying a local electric current.
Phonophoresis is the use of ultrasound to enhance the delivery of topically applied drugs. Phonophoresis has been used in an effort to enhance the absorption of topically applied analgesics and anti-inflammatory agents through the therapeutic application of ultrasound.