Galvanic Current

Rating

Category: Allied Health Options

Injury Type: Acute

What is it?

Galvanic, or direct current, is a form of electrotherapy treatment. The electrical current, rectified to a safe, low-voltage level is applied to the body via electrodes placed on the skin. Galvanic current is usually applied by a qualified professional, via a machine in their clinic.

How does it work?

The flow of current through an effected region may reduce pain by inhibiting pain receptors. As it is also thought to enhance the transport of ionized substances through the skin, it can also be used to promote the resorption of topical drugs such as anti-inflammatory creams (this process is called iontophoresis). It works by distracting nerves and the brain from the pain sensations.

Is it effective?

The current evidence for galvanic current is lacking in that the small number of studies examining its effectiveness for whiplash do not clearly separate the effect of the current from other treatments provided.

Are there any disadvantages?

There has been no research on the disadvantages associated with galvanic current. The machine is not routinely used at home, therefore you must have a professionally trained therapist apply it. This approach may not be suitable for everyone.

Where do you get it?

Galvanic current may be provided by therapists involved in facilitating recovery from whiplash.

Recommendations

The use of galvanic current for whiplash cannot be recommended based on the current research evidence. More research is required.

Key References

  • Kroeling, P, Gross, A, Goldsmith, CH, Cervical Overview Group, 'Electrotherapy for neck disorders', Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD004251. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004251.pub3.
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