In physical therapy and rehabilitation, various innovative techniques have emerged. They aid in the healing process of injuries. One such modality that has gained popularity in recent years is phonophoresis. Phonophoresis is a non-invasive therapeutic technique. It uses ultrasound waves. It’s to enhance the delivery of topical medications into the body’s tissues.

This article focuses on what phonophoresis is: 

  • Its applications in treating injuries.
  • The benefits it offers.
  • Potential risks.
  • Comparison with ultrasound therapy.
  • How it differs from another similar technique called iontophoresis.

What Is Phonophoresis?

It’s a specialized therapy used in physical therapy and sports medicine. It works by applying ultrasonic waves to your skin. They create tiny vibrations in the tissues underneath. These vibrations help topical medications get absorbed into specific areas of your body.

The main idea behind phonophoresis is that ultrasound waves make it easier for your skin to soak up medications and for them to reach deeper tissues. This happens because the waves cause gentle movements in your skin. And they increase the ability of cell membranes to let the medication in. This makes treating injuries and conditions faster and more effective.

Phonophoresis Treatment

This treatment harnesses the power of sound waves to speed up healing. And it eases pain in various musculoskeletal conditions.

This non-invasive technique has gained prominence in physical therapy and sports medicine. It’s for its ability to precisely deliver medications and reduce inflammation.

In this block, we delve deeper into the world of phonophoresis. We will explore its applications.

Injuries That Can Be Treated with Phonophoresis

Phonophoresis is a versatile treatment modality. It can address a wide range of injuries and musculoskeletal conditions. Now, let’s focus on injuries that phonophoresis treatment can treat. 


Tendonitis is a condition characterized by the inflammation of a tendon. It is the thick cord that attaches muscles to bones. It often results from overuse or repetitive motion. It leads to pain, swelling, and limited joint mobility. Phonophoresis can deliver anti-inflammatory medications directly to the affected tendon. It reduces inflammation and promotes the healing process.


Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae. They’re small sacs. They’re filled with fluid that cushions and lubricates the spaces between tendons, bones, and muscles. This condition can cause pain, tenderness, and swelling. Phonophoresis is an effective treatment option for bursitis. It can deliver medications that ease inflammation and pain to the affected area.

Muscle Strains

Muscle strains, often resulting from sudden movements or overexertion, can benefit from phonophoresis. Ultrasound waves enhance the delivery of muscle-relaxing medications. This therapy can help reduce muscle spasms and promote healing.

Ligament Injuries

Ligament injuries can be usually cured with phonophoresis to deliver anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medications. This aids in reducing pain and swelling while enhancing the recovery process.


Phonophoresis physical therapy can also be in the treatment of arthritis. It’s a chronic condition characterized by joint inflammation and pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage the symptoms and improve joint function.

Phonophoresis procedure

Benefits and Potential Risks

The therapy offers several advantages:

  • Targeted Medication Delivery. Phonophoresis allows for precise targeting of medications to the affected area. It ensures that the therapeutic agents reach the site of injury directly.
  • Non-Invasive. The therapy is non-invasive, meaning it does not need needles or surgical procedures. This makes it a less painful and more comfortable option for patients.
  • Enhanced Absorption. The use of ultrasound waves enhances the absorption of medications. It increases their effectiveness and reduces the required dosage.
  • Pain Reduction. Phonophoresis physical therapy can help ease pain and inflammation. It allows patients to experience relief and improved mobility.
  • Improved Healing. Phonophoresis can hurry the healing process. It promotes better circulation and cellular activity in the affected area.

Phonophoresis is generally considered safe. But there are some potential risks and contraindications to be aware of:

  • Skin Sensitivity. Some individuals may experience skin sensitivity or irritation. It’s a result of the ultrasound gel used during the procedure.
  • Allergic Reactions. Patients may have allergies to the ultrasound gel or the medication. They should inform their healthcare provider before undergoing phonophoresis treatment.
  • Contraindications. Phonophoresis should not be used over areas with open wounds, active infections, or malignancies. It’s also contraindicated for pregnant women, individuals with pacemakers.
  • Burns. Improper use or prolonged exposure to ultrasound waves can lead to thermal burns. It’s essential for healthcare providers to follow safety guidelines. And they must track the patient’s comfort during treatment.

Phonophoresis vs Ultrasound

Phonophoresis and traditional ultrasound therapy share some similarities. Both use ultrasound waves to treat injuries. But they differ in their primary objectives and mechanisms of action.


  • Aim. The goal is to enhance the delivery of topical medications into the body’s tissues.
  • Mechanism. It uses ultrasound waves to create micro-vibrations. And it increases the permeability of cell membranes. This allows medications to penetrate the skin and reach deeper tissues.
  • Application. It is commonly used in conjunction with topical medications. They’re anti-inflammatory gels or creams.
  • Indications. The therapy is specifically employed for targeted drug delivery. It’s to treat injuries and musculoskeletal conditions.

Ultrasound therapy vs phonophoresis:

  • Aim. Ultrasound primarily focuses on promoting tissue healing, reducing pain, and improving circulation.
  • Mechanism. The therapy uses ultrasound waves. It’s to generate heat within the tissues, increasing blood flow and cellular activity.
  • Application. It’s applied directly to the skin with ultrasound gel. It’s without the use of topical medications.
  • Indications. Ultrasound therapy is usually used for a broader range of purposes. It includes pain management, tissue healing, and reducing muscle spasms.
Ultrasound procedure of the knee

Iontophoresis vs Phonophoresis

Iontophoresis is another therapeutic modality. It shares some similarities with phonophoresis. Both involve the delivery of medications through the skin. But they differ in their mechanisms and the types of injuries they are typically used to treat.

Iontophoresis Phonophoresis
It’s a treatment method. It uses a low-level electrical current to drive charged medications through the skin. It is commonly employed to manage hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and certain inflammatory conditions. As before discussed, it uses ultrasound waves. It’s to enhance the penetration of medications into the body’s tissues. It’s particularly for the treatment of injuries and musculoskeletal conditions. 
Mechanism: According to iontophoresis vs phonophoresis block, it relies on the principles of electromigration and electroosmosis. An electrical current is applied to the skin. It carries charged ions from the medication through the skin’s pores. And it goes into the underlying tissues. The electrical charge of the ions helps drive them deeper into the body. Mechanism: It uses ultrasound waves. It’s to create mechanical vibrations in the skin and underlying tissues. These vibrations increase the permeability of cell membranes. It allows non-charged medications. It’s typically in the form of gels or creams to penetrate the skin and reach the targeted area.
Types of Medications: It’s mainly used for medications that are charged. It means they have an electrical charge. These medications are typically ionized and can be either positively or negatively charged. It’s particularly effective for delivering medications like corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory drugs. Types of Medications: Phonophoresis treatment is suitable for medications that are not charged. They’re non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and analgesics. The mechanism of action in Phonophoresis is different from iontophoresis. However. it allows for the delivery of a broader range of medications that may not be ionized.
Applications: It’s commonly used for hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and localized inflammatory conditions. They’re plantar fasciitis or tennis elbow. It can be effective in reducing pain and inflammation in these specific areas. Applications: Phonophoresis is primarily employed in physical therapy and sports medicine. It’s for the treatment of injuries and musculoskeletal conditions. It is often used to address tendonitis, bursitis, muscle strains, ligament injuries, and arthritis.
Equipment: Iontophoresis requires specialized equipment that generates a low-level electrical current. This equipment includes a device with electrodes and a power source. Equipment: Phonophoresis equipment consists of an ultrasound machine with a transducer head and a coupling agent (ultrasound gel) to ease the transmission of ultrasound waves into the skin.
Safety Considerations: According to iontophoresis vs phonophoresis block, it’s generally considered safe when administered by trained professionals. But there may be some discomfort or tingling sensations during the treatment. It’s due to the electrical current. Safety Considerations: The therapy is also safe when performed by skilled practitioners. It is non-invasive. It does not involve electrical currents, making it a comfortable option for patients.


Phonophoresis is a valuable tool in the field of physical therapy. It offers a non-invasive and effective means of delivering medications. Phonophoresis can help ease pain, reduce inflammation, and expedite the healing process. It cures tendonitis, bursitis, muscle strains, ligament injuries, and arthritis.


What is phonophoresis in physical therapy?

Phonophoresis in physical therapy is a non-invasive treatment technique. It uses ultrasound waves. They enhance the absorption of topical medications into targeted areas. It aids in the healing process of various injuries and musculoskeletal conditions.

Can phonophoresis help with all types of injuries?

Phonophoresis is not suitable for all types of injuries. It’s primarily used for injuries that benefit from the delivery of topical medications. They’re tendonitis, bursitis, muscle strains, ligament injuries, and arthritis. It may not be appropriate for conditions that do not need medication delivery.

What are the side effects of phonophoresis treatment?

Phonophoresis is generally considered safe. However, potential side effects can include skin sensitivity or irritation. It’s due to the ultrasound gel used during treatment. Allergic reactions may occur in individuals sensitive to the gel. Proper application and adherence to safety guidelines by trained professionals can cut the risk of side effects.