A randomized study comparing corticosteroid injection to corticosteroid iontophoresis for lateral epicondylitis

Amalia Stefanou, Nathan Marshall, Wendy Holdan, Aamir Siddiqui
Journal of Hand Surgery 2012, 37 (1): 104-9

PURPOSE: We designed a prospective, randomized study to evaluate the effects of iontophoresis delivery of dexamethasone versus corticosteroid injection therapy on patient outcomes.

METHODS: We randomized 82 patients to 10 mg dexamethasone via iontophoresis using a self-contained patch with a 24-hour battery; 10 mg dexamethasone injection; or 10 mg triamcinolone injection. All patients received the same hand therapy protocol. Primary outcomes tracked were change in grip strength (flexion vs extension), pain, and function scores on a validated questionnaire. The secondary outcome was return-to-work status. Patients were evaluated at baseline, completion of physical therapy, and 6-month follow-up.

RESULTS: The iontophoresis patients had statistically significant improvement in grip strength at the conclusion of hand therapy compared with baseline. They were also more likely to get back to work without restriction. By 6-month follow-up, all groups had equivalent results for all measured outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: Dexamethasone via iontophoresis produced short-term benefits because for this group grip strength and unrestricted return to work were significantly better. This study suggests that this iontophoresis technique for delivery of corticosteroid may be considered a treatment option for patients with lateral epicondylitis.


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