A Cochrane Review of Electrotherapy for Mechanical Neck Disorders
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STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review. OBJECTIVE: To assess whether electrotherapy relieves pain or improves function/disability in adults with mechanical neck disorders (MND). SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: The effectiveness of electrotherapy as a physiotherapy option has remained unclear. METHODS: Databases were searched from root to March 2003. Independent reviewers conducted selection, data abstraction, and quality assessment. Relative risk and standard mean differences were calculated. RESULTS: Fourteen comparisons were included. For the pain outcome, we found limited evidence of benefit, ie, pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy resulted in only immediate post-treatment pain relief for chronic MND and acute whiplash (WAD). Other findings included unclear or conflicting evidence (Galvanic current for acute or chronic occipital headache; iontophoresis for acute, subacute WAD; TENS for acute WAD, chronic MND; PEMF for medium- or long-term effects in acute WAD, chronic MND); and limited evidence of no benefit (diadynamic current for reduction of trigger point tenderness in chronic MND, cervicogenic headache; permanent magnets for chronic MND; electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) for chronic MND). CONCLUSIONS: In pain as well as other outcomes, the evidence for treatment of acute or chronic MND by different forms of electrotherapy is either lacking, limited, or conflicting.
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