Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Thomas Mohr


Iontophoresis; Phonophoresis


Many different drugs are used topically for treatment by the medical field. The benefit of some of these drugs can be enhanced by the use of ultrasound (phonophoresis) or electric current (iontophoresis). These methods have been used for many years by such disciplines as ophthalmology, dermatology, dentistry as well as physical therapy. With the inherent risks of blood borne pathogens, these methods are a great alternative to the injection of drugs into the system.

The purpose of this paper is to review the literature regarding iontophoresis and phonophoresis and present the results as a guide for the practicing physical therapist. The most common use of iontophoresis and phonophoresis is for the control of pain and inflammation. Some scientific studies have been conducted using either a dexamethasone/lidocaine combination or hydrocortisone. Both of these have shown outstanding results. Studies and case reports have also shown positive results for the use of iontophoresis and phonophoresis in the treatment of burns, open wounds, calcium deposits, anesthesia, and various skin conditions. Most of these studies, however, have lacked good scientific design or have not been tested at all. There is clearly a need for more research in the use of some of these promising drugs.