Evaluation of iontophoresis and local corticosteroid injection in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2005 Feb;84(2):92-6. doi: 10.1097/01.phm.0000151942.49031.dd.


Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of local corticosteroid injection with iontophoresis of corticosteroids in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Design: This study was a prospective, randomized, unblinded clinical trial with follow-up at 2 and 8 wks. Thirty patients (48 median nerves) with clinical and electrophysiologic evidence of carpal tunnel syndrome were included in the study. Patients were evaluated by use of clinical variables, a functional status scale, a symptom severity scale, and visual analog scale. A total of 48 median nerves were randomly assigned to one of two groups; group 1 received 40 mg of methylprednisolone acetate injected locally in the carpal tunnel, and group 2 received iontophoresis of dexamethasone sodium phosphate. Clinical variables and scales were evaluated at regular intervals: at the beginning and at the end of therapy in the second and eighth week.

Results: Twenty-seven patients (90%) were women and three patients (10%) were men. The mean age of patients was 48.0 +/- 8.2 (range, 29-61) yrs. There was a statistically significant improvement in the clinical examination variables, visual analog scale, symptom severity scale, and functional status scale scores of the patients in both of the treatment groups posttreatment (at 2 and 8 wks) compared with baseline (P < 0.05). However, there was a statistically significant difference between the values of the two group. A significant difference in mean symptom severity scale, functional status scale, and visual analog scale scores was found in second week and eighth week in the injection group compared with iontophoresis.

Conclusion: Our study comparing a standardized treatment protocol for incorporating local corticosteroid injection and iontophoresis of dexamethasone sodium phosphate in carpal tunnel syndrome revealed success of both iontophoresis of dexamethasone sodium phosphate and injection of corticosteroids, but symptom relief was greater at 2 and 8 wks with injection of corticosteroids.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Dexamethasone / administration & dosage*
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections / adverse effects
  • Iontophoresis*
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / administration & dosage*
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Dexamethasone
  • Methylprednisolone