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Iontophoresis & Phonophoresis Therapy

Iontophoresis is a technique that uses an electric current to deliver a medicine or other chemical through the skin. In popular (lay)  terms it is sometimes called "an injection without the needle". In the past, it has sometimes been called Electromotive Drug Administration, though, in modern therapy, this is a rarely employed term.

This is not a new technique - there is recorded iontophoresis activity way back to the 1700's, though most authorities agree that it was not until the work of Le Duc in the early 1900's that the technique really gained momentum, though its use since that time has been sporadic.


Formally, the modality can be defined thus: ". . . a non-invasive method of propelling high concentrations of a charged substance, (normally medication or bioactive agent), transdermally by repulsive electromotive force using a small electrical charge applied to an iontophoretic chamber containing a similarly charged active agent and its vehicle". The term iontophoresis is simply defined as ion transfer (ionto = ion; phoresis = transfer).

Iontophoresis is used in therapy, but is not exclusive to this arena, and there are applications in medicine, dentistry, lab sciences, and physiology. 

There are relatively few practitioners using iontophoresis in the UK, but in the USA it is a mainstream application. In Europe, there are pockets of activity and strong support from many practitioners. The use of iontophoresis worldwide is patchy - with areas of high use and areas where it is almost never employed.

IONTOPHORESIS is NOT the same as PHONOPHORESIS which involves driving ions across the skin with therapeutic ultrasound.

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