Medicinal and injection therapies for mechanical neck disorders
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BACKGROUND: Controversy persists regarding medicinal therapies and injections. OBJECTIVES: To determine the effects of medication and injections on primary outcomes (e.g. pain) for adults with mechanical neck disorders and whiplash. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched CENTRAL, MANTIS, CINAHL from their start to May 2006; MEDLINE and EMBASE to December 2006. We scrutinised reference lists for other trials. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled trials with adults with neck disorders, with or without associated headache or radicular findings. We considered medicinal and injection therapies, regardless of route of administration. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently selected articles, abstracted data and assessed methodological quality. When clinical heterogeneity was absent, we combined studies using random-effects models. MAIN RESULTS: We found 36 trials that examined the effects of oral NSAIDs, psychotropic agents, steroid injections, and anaesthetic agents. Trials had a mean of 3.1 on the Jadad Scale for methodological quality; 70% were high quality. For acute whiplash, administering intravenous methylprednisolone within eight hours of injury reduced pain at one week (SMD -0.90, 95% CI -1.57 to -0.24), and sick leave but not pain at six months compared to placebo in one trial. For chronic neck disorders at short-term follow-up, intramuscular injection of lidocaine was superior to placebo (SMD -1.36, 95% CI -1.93 to -0.80); NNT 3, treatment advantage 45% and dry needling, but similar to ultrasound in one trial each. In chronic neck disorders with radicular findings, epidural methylprednisolone and lidocaine reduced neck pain and improved function more than when given by intramuscular route at one-year follow-up, in one trial. In subacute and chronic neck disorders, muscle relaxants, analgesics and NSAIDs had limited evidence and unclear benefits. In participants with chronic neck disorders with or without radicular findings or headache, there was moderate evidence from five high quality trials that Botulinum toxin A intramuscular injections had similar effects to saline in improving pain (pooled SMD: -0.39, 95%CI -1.25 to 0.47), disability or global perceived effect. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The major limitations are the lack of replication of the findings and sufficiently large trials. There is moderate evidence for the benefit of intravenous methylprednisolone given within eight hours of acute whiplash, from a single trial. Lidocaine injection into myofascial trigger points appears effective in two trials. There is moderate evidence that Botulinum toxin A is not superior to saline injection for chronic MND. Muscle relaxants, analgesics and NSAIDs had limited evidence and unclear benefits.
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