Steroid Iontophoresis

A physical therapist administers steroid iontophoresis onto a patient's inflamed knee

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What is steroid iontophoresis?

Steroid iontophoresis is the use of a small electrical current to move cortisone through the skin into an inflamed area. This is very useful if you want to avoid an injection or where an injection may be dangerous.

Iontophoresis is a method for getting a corticosteroid drug down to an inflamed area without the need for an injection. The machine uses a small electrical current applied to an electrode. The electrode is soaked in Dexamethasone (a soluble steroid), and is placed over the inflamed area. Another electrode is placed on a nearby muscle.

The treatment is generally well-tolerated and takes 20-30 minutes (so bring a book).

How does steroid iontophoresis help?

Where a steroid injection works well with a single injection, iontophoresis usually requires 3 or more treatments, a few days apart. It is very useful for superficial problems such as Achilles tendon pain, small joint inflammation and Tennis Elbow, but is not of use for deep problems where the current cannot reach.

This procedure can also be used when injections may not be recommended, such as children.

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Dr Susan du Plessis is a family GP
Dr. Susan du Plessis
Dr Susan du Plessis studied Medicine at the University of Western Australia, graduating in 2000. She completed her hospi...
Dr. Susan du Plessis