Physical Therapy Modalities

Physical therapy modalities are various methods of electrical, thermal or mechanical energy treatments. They are used to relieve pain, decrease swelling, improve circulation, reduce muscle spasm and deliver medication. The most common types of modalities used in physical therapy include electrical muscle stimulation, ultrasound, heat, ice and traction.

  • Ultrasound – high frequency sound waves that promote deep tissue heating to relieve pain and muscle spasms and improve circulation
  • Electrical stimulation – causes muscles to contract and relax for relief of spasm and pain and muscle strengthening
  • Traction – done to or by machine; pulls apart certain segments of the spine to relieve nerve irritation or muscle spasm
  • Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – uses low voltage electrical current for pain control
  • Moist heat (hydrocollator) – increases circulation, reduces swelling, relaxes muscles and tissues
  • Ice packs – used to relieve acute or chronic pain, reduce swelling and muscle spasm
  • Paraffin – a form of heat therapy using paraffin wax and mineral oil, usually applied to hands or feet

Technologies for Physical Therapy Modalities

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What to Expect for Physical Therapy Modalities

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Side Effects and Risk Factors for Physical Therapy Modalities

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Education and Resources for Physical Therapy Modalities

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Learn More about Physical Therapy Modalities

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