The Importance of Iontophoresis

This ages-old therapy uses subtle electrical current to help with a wide variety of ailments and injuries.

Updated 2021

Article by Deborah Powell, as published in Equine Wellness Magazine (view PDF)

Iontophoresis refers to applying special patches with medication added, which has been prescribed by your veterinarian. The patches are activated by small amounts of electrical current. Iontophoresis is noninvasive and provides diffused delivery of medications. Also, iontophoresis does not cause tissue damange and does not cause infections as needles can.

Why Phorese?

Benefits & Applications of Iontophoresis

Iontophoresis is a highly effective treatment with many benefits. A few reasons to phorese include helping to smooth the rough edges of calcified joints (i.e. for treating ringbone) and soothing irritated ligaments (i.e. an ankle’s annular ligaments).

  1. Iontophoresis can bring back horses suffering from suspensory ligament injuries, ring bone, sore heels, shin splints, puffy ankles (annular ligament syndrome), and more.
  2. For horses that have had unsuccessful treatments with other therapies, such as shockwave and stem cell, iontophoresis provides healing support. If used first, it can often heal the injuries on its own.
  3. Phoresing your horse enhances the benefits of microcurrent by further reducing pain and inflammation, providing more relief than microcurrent alone.
  4. Horses get sore from constant injections and the injections don’t always resolve the issue. Phoresing can be used to relieve injection sites or as an effective and noninvasive alternative to regular injections.

For horses that receive joint injections, phoresing is an excellent noninvasive replacement to regular injections. Simply apply the drug reservoir pads directly over the injection site and begin phoresing. Treatment times will vary depending on the method you use.

Quick Step Guide to Phoresing

  1. Select a phoresing product that is appropriate for the treatment location. Consider the pad size, the anatomy of the treatment area, and the device being used.
  2. Choose and prepare the treatment area.
  3. Fill the drug reservoir pads, affix them to the horse, and secure in place.
  4. Begin treatment. Note: Treatment duration, device settings, and specific protocols vary. See the Matrix Instructions included with your product.

Phoresing Methods

Phoresors: Phoresors are units specifically designed to deliver medication, providing a highly precise and accurate method. Phoresors will turn off when the medication is fully delivered, also if a session is interrupted it will remember the time needed to finish the treatment. Most models of phoresors on the market are not well tolerated by horses. 

MicroPlus: The MicroPlus is a microcurrent unit that has the settings necessary to phorese when following Matrix Therapy Products’ special instructions. The MicroPlus is not as accurate as the other options, but is still a viable method.

Phoresing Patches: The IontoPatch is great for treating legs and ankles, but is not ideal for other parts of the body. IontoPatches are easy-to-use and do not require a unit, they also allow for unattended treatments. Implementing a slow-drip, time-released application, the IontoPatches are left on for 4 or 14 hours (depending on model). They provide a very precise treatment and are highly effective. The IontoPatches recently had battery performance issues. Matrix is no longer selling this patch. 

The ActivaPatch, which has similar features as well as an indicator light and ability for quick transfer in 2.5 hours. One caveat is that the ActivaPatch is not well tolerated do to stinging sensation felt by sensitive horses and is very limited in placement. 

MCT Patch with Circuits  The MCT Patch with circuits allow unattended, multi-day treatments. As long as the indicator light is still lit, the treatments can continue until the battery is exhausted. The patches are a slow-drip delivery method and are primarily used on legs.

  Devices Self-Powered Patches
Features Phoresor MicroPlus ActivaPatch IontoPatch
Benefits Cost-per-use savings See above 
Best For Difficult to treat areas Horses’ legs
Avg. Treatment Length 20-60 min, varies per device and treatment 2.5 hrs 4 hrs
Special Features 1 channel, treatment feedback 2 channels, no feedback treatment indicator light larger surface area coverage
Delivery Accuracy highly precise lower accuracy Issues reported 
Equine Instructions included with purchase, exclusively from Matrix

Get Started Today

Check out the Products page and find the right option to add to your therapy toolbox!

Copyright © 2011, Matrix Therapy Products Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Updated 2021.