Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ

Question:

I'm seeing a physical therapist for tennis elbow. He wants to try iontophoresis on my elbow. I've been told this helps reduce inflammation. I'm trying to avoid using drugs or chemicals. Is this treatment safe?

Answer:

Iontophoresis is a process that uses a mild electrical current to deliver drugsacross the skin into the soft tissues. It's a local treatment so the effect of the medication is on the elbow, not throughout the body.

Iontophoresis has been around as a form of treatment for tennis elbow since the 1940s. Research and testing has shown it's both safe and effective. Any problems in its use are usually linked to the way it's used, not to the concept itself.

New, updated technology has brought iontophoresis back as a popular form of treatment. Many patients prefer this delivery system to steroid injections. It's pain free and delivers the drug over a larger area than a needle.

Joshua A. Cleland, DPT, OCS, et al. Effectiveness of Manual Physical Therapy to the Cervical Spine in the Management of Lateral Epicondylalgia: A Retrospective Analysis. In Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. November 2004. Vol. 34. No. 11. Pp. 713-724.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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