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.
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.
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).
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.