Medically Reviewed by Dr. Luis Alberto Vallejo
What is galvanic current?
It is a constant flow current, without polarity changes and superior to ionic and molecular forces.
It is called direct current or galvanic current.
Its passage through the human organism through the skin, through the use of electrodes causes living matter to behave like a second order conductor.
It causes chemical changes at an organic level.
Chemical phenomena of the galvanic current
- With the anode: Oxidation. The anions (-) react with oxygen, with other elements or with the anode electrode, causing the resulting component to lose electrons. The electrons leave the solution and the ion that contained them through the electrode.
- With the cathode: Reduction. The cations (+) when reacting with certain elements or with the cathode electrode, suffer an increase in electrons. The electrons penetrate through the electrode in the solution by associating with the ions.
Polar effects of galvanic currents
– Under the anode:
- Acid reaction
- Oxidation (loss of e-)
- Low pH
- Proton release
- Non-metal anion concentration
- Acid-dry-coagulated burn
- Low membrane polarization level
- Low metabolic activity
- Heat absorption
- Abundance of negative ions (Cl-OH)
- It is applied in inflammation processes
– Under the cathode
- Alkaline reaction
- Reduction (increase in electrons)
- High pH
- Metal cation concentration
- Alkaline-wet-soft burn
- High membrane polarization level
- High metabolic activity
- Heat release
- Abundance of positive ions (Na +, K +, Ca ++, H30 +)
- It is applied in “Osis” processes
Galvanic current dosage
The galvanic current produces different sensations in each patient, which may not perceive anything and by removing the electrodes the stimulation zone may have suffered a burn.
The dose should be calculated according to the square centimeters of the smallest electrode.
Techniques used to apply galvanic current
- Galvanic bath: It is practiced throughout the body or large areas of it. The sessions usually last between 10 to 20 minutes, with the water at 34 ° C.
In the treatments in which the descending effect of the galvanic current is used, the patient refers to drowsiness, heaviness, sedation and difficulty in performing tasks that require full attention (for example, driving).
- Electrolysis: It is used in electric hair removal, it consists in altering the chemical structure of the matter that surrounds the electrode to the point of destroying it by electrolytic burn.
Two electrodes are used. The asset that is the cathode has a needle shape that is applied to the area to burn.
- Iontophoresis: Through the galvanic current medication is introduced through the skin, based on the effect of electrophoresis, consisting of rejection of ions of the same polarity as the electrode.
- Hyper – hydrosis: Treatment of exaggerated and localized sweating in some areas of the body, mainly in soles of hands and feet.
The affected body segments are introduced into drinking water pails, using a conductive rubber electrode in each container. Metal electrodes are never used. In processes with acid sweat (low pH) the cathode (-) will be more effective.
In cases of alkaline sweat, the anode (+) will be the most suitable. The intensity of the galvanic current will depend greatly on the smaller electrode, trying to circulate the recommended dose of 0.15 to 0.20.
In this case it is not easy to calculate the surface since the contact of the water with the skin will be the size of the electrode.
Contraindications and precautions
- Endoprosthesis and osteosynthesis: Given the conductivity of metals, electrical charges will accumulate in it, which will turn it into a pseudo electrode.
Metals are good conductors and do not oppose resistance, so there is no risk of burning due to heat accumulation in it.
- Pacemaker: Precision devices, necessary for cardiac control.
It must be avoided that the rhythm of the impulses produced by it is affected by any electrical interference.
If the pacemaker cover is metallic, the indications mentioned for metals must be taken into account.
- Heart problems: When the cardiac impulse generating system is affected by various pathologies, the influence of electric fields can alter the rhythm and the appearance of extrasystoles or extemporaneous heartbeat absences.
- Pregnancy: The application of all types of currents is contraindicated in order to influence at least the gestation process.
- Malignant tumors: The electrochemical processes generated by the application of the current can contribute to a greater lack of control of the metabolism and reproduction of the malignant cells, favoring the pathological process
- Thrombophlebitis: The thrombus may increase in size.
- Caution in areas close to endocrine glands: In treatment, its proximity should be taken into account so as not to cause general effects that are not sought or desired.
- Skin in poor condition or with wounds: The presence of skin lesions causes excessive concentration of electrical energy, with the imminent risk of burning.
- Patient sensitivity alterations: The patient’s neurovegetative response to the application of the current should be carefully observed. If the patient cannot respond to electrochemical changes, there is a risk of burns.
- Precautions for exaggerated neurovegetative responses: Observe whether the patient during the first sessions makes an allergic response to galvanism or if the generalized or local neurovegetative responses are exaggerated. Therefore, it is recommended that the first sessions be with low doses and short times.