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Background and purpose: It is still inconclusive which method of iontophoresis delivers the most medication deepest through the skin, and therefore most effective in treating lateral epicondylitis. The purpose of this systematic review is to analyze the efficacy of treatments for lateral epicondylitis using iontophoresis.

Method: The review included articles from peer-reviewed journals with sufficient data related to the purpose and focus of the study. Inclusion criteria included randomized control trials, cohort studies, case studies, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and pilot studies published since 2000.

Results: Fourteen relevant studies were identified. Twelve were experimental in vivo studies, two were review studies. All studies were published 2002 through 2015, providing a robust overview of treatments over the last 15 years.

Discussion and conclusion: Among studies in this systemic review, pooled data from RCTs pointed to minimal intermediate- to long-term clinical benefit for the nonsurgical treatment of lateral epicondylitis. Of drug treatments, the most frequently used in iontophoresis are dexamethasone and lidocaine. Studies of iontophoresis with dexamethasone show evidence that the combination of treatments may be effective in reducing pain; there is evidence supporting the iontophoretic administration of dexamethasone as an alternative to other medication and oral therapy. Based on this review, it is not conclusive that iontophoresis be recommended as a treatment approach for the management of epicondylitis, however iontophoresis should not be ruled out in treating epicondylitis as it is a dose-response modality. More research and review of research is needed on the use of iontophoresis in managing epicondylitis.

Publisher's Statement

Originally published in Research & Investigations in Sports Medicine, 1(3) [Article RISM.000512]. Licensed under CC BY 4.0. The original material can be found here.