Modalities Michigan


There is an array of treatment modalities available that can help strengthen, relax, and heal muscles. The ones that your therapist chooses to use may vary depending on your specific condition, your needs, and your overall rehab goals.

What are modalities?

Physical therapists are trained in the therapeutic application of various basic physical agents that we call “modalities” (therapeutic modalities, physical modalities). In simple terms, modality refers to the tool in which your therapist uses. In conjunction with therapeutic exercise, neuromuscular re-education, and manual therapy techniques, modalities can be helpful tools to lead you to recovery. Your treatment program may have 1 modality or 10, it depends on what you need.

What do modalities do?

Modalities are used to reduce pain and joint swelling, reduce muscle spasms, restore functional joint mobility, increase local blood flow to injured tissues and deliver medications subcutaneously in conjunction with other procedures.

What types of modalities does HealthQuest offer?

Physical therapists employ a number of different therapeutic tools to enable recovery for a very broad array of physical injuries, disorders, and long-term chronic problems, too numerous to outline completely in this section.  However, you can learn a little more below about some of the modalities offered at HealthQuest Physical Therapy.


Traction is the use of a modulated force to pull the body lengthwise or longitudinally, to pull apart or distract spinal vertebrae to relieve pressure on compressed nerves, thereby reducing pain and inflammation. This can be done by placing the patient on a specially designed traction machine or it can be done manually. Traction can be used for both cervical and lumbar portions of the spine.


Phonophoresis is a therapeutic modality that our Southeast Michigan physical therapists use to relieve inflammation in affected muscles, tendons, ligaments, or arthritic joints. With this treatment, high-frequency sound waves are employed through ultrasound technology, as a way to administer medication or another healing chemical to the injured body part through the skin.


Ultrasound is used to transmit sound waves into painful areas, relaxing and warming the tissues and causing increased blood flow. This treatment is great for muscle spasms and trigger points.

Electrical Stimulation

Electrical stimulation uses an electrical current to cause a single muscle or a group of muscles to contract. By placing electrodes on the skin in various locations, your physical therapist can recruit the appropriate muscle fibers. Contracting the muscle via electrical stimulation with electrical stimulation called NMES helps improve the contraction of the affected muscle. Your physical therapist can change the current setting to allow for a forceful or gentle muscle contraction. Along with increasing muscle strength, the contraction of the muscle also promotes blood supply to the area that assists in healing.


Iontophoresis is another form of electrical stimulation that your PT may use. During iontophoresis, electricity is used to push medication in through your skin to affected muscles, tendons, or ligaments. Typically, iontophoresis is used for anti-inflammatory purposes, although a variety of medications can be used for different conditions. It can treat a variety of conditions, such as bursitis, tendinitis, or the management of scar tissue.

Moist Heat (Hydrocollator)

These are kept in a steamer and then wrapped in towels before being placed on the patient. The steam creates moisture, which along with the heat, penetrates tight and sore muscles, relaxing them and increasing blood flow to the area. They are especially helpful for arthritis, muscle spasms and strains.

Cold/Ice (Cryotherapy)

These are kept in a cold box and can be wrapped in either dry or wet towels before being applied to the patient. The cold reduces blood flow and inflammation thereby providing pain relief for the patient. Cold packs reduce swelling, inflammation, and muscle spasms. The reduction in swelling is very beneficial for post-surgical patients and those with acute strains and sprains.

Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

Use of low voltage electrical current through surface electrodes that override the sensation of pain. Small unit (slightly larger than a beeper) worn throughout the day for pain control that the patient can apply a needed.

Kinesiology Tape

Kinesiology tape is special cloth tape that is applied to your body to help decrease pain, improve circulation, or facilitate muscle function. The tape can be left in place for up to five days to help improve your condition. You can read more here.


A form of heat using paraffin wax and mineral oil. Usually applied to hands or feet where other applications of heat are difficult.

Dry Needling

Dry Needling performed by Physical Therapists uses a monofilament needle to release myofascial trigger points or tight muscles, reducing pain and improving range of motion.. You can read more here.

Light Therapy

This type of treatment is used to help accelerate the healing process at an injured site. Light therapy uses light at a specific wavelength and involves the therapist holding a light-emitting wand over the injured area. You can read more here.

HealthQuest can help!

Our goal at HealthQuest Physical Therapy is to provide an advanced integrated approach to minimize or eliminate your pain. Contact HealthQuest Physical Therapy today to find out how our physical therapy modalities can help you recover.

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