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Neck Pain

Conservative interventions provide short-term relief for non-specific neck pain: a systematic review

Leaver AM, Refshauge KM, Maher CG, McAuley JH.
J Physiother. 2010;56(2):73-85.

QUESTION: Which interventions for non-specific neck pain are effective in reducing pain or disability?

DESIGN: Systematic review with meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.

PARTICIPANTS: Adults with non-specific neck pain.

INTERVENTION: All interventions for neck pain that were evaluated in trials with a placebo, minimal- or no-intervention control.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Pain and disability outcomes (0-100 scale) at the conclusion of a course of treatment (short term), and in the medium (3 to 9 months) and long (> 9 months) term.

RESULTS: 33 trials were identified. The interventions with significant short-term effects on pain were manipulation (MD -22, 95% CI -32 to -11), multimodal intervention (MD -21, 95% CI -34 to -7), specific exercise (MD -12, 95% CI -22 to -2), combination orphenadrine/paracetamol (MD -17, 95% CI -32 to -2), and manual therapy (MD -12, 95% CI -16 to -7). There was a significant short-term effect on disability for acupuncture (MD -8, 95% CI -13 to -2) and manual therapy (MD -6, 95% CI -11 to -2). Treatment with laser therapy resulted in better pain outcomes at medium-term follow-up but not at short-term follow-up. No other intervention demonstrated medium- or long-term effects.

CONCLUSION: Some conservative interventions for neck pain are effective in the short term. Few interventions that have been investigated have shown longer term effects that are better than placebo or minimal intervention.

Low-level laser therapy for acute neck pain with radiculopathy: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized study

Konstantinovic LM, Cutovic MR, Milovanovic AN, Jovic SJ, Dragin AS, Letic MDj, Miler VM.
Pain Med. 2010 Aug;11(8):1169-78.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to investigate clinical effects of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in patients with acute neck pain with radiculopathy.

DESIGN: Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study.

SETTING: The study was carried out between January 2005 and September 2007 at the Clinic for Rehabilitation at the Medical School, University of Belgrade, Serbia.

PATIENTS AND INTERVENTION: Sixty subjects received a course of 15 treatments over 3 weeks with active or an inactivated laser as a placebo procedure. LLLT was applied to the skin projection at the anatomical site of the spinal segment involved with the following parameters: wavelength 905 nm, frequency 5,000 Hz, power density of 12 mW/cm(2), and dose of 2 J/cm(2), treatment time 120 seconds, at whole doses 12 J/cm(2).

OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome measure was pain intensity as measured by a visual analog scale. Secondary outcome measures were neck movement, neck disability index, and quality of life. Measurements were taken before treatment and at the end of the 3-week treatment period.

RESULTS: Statistically significant differences between groups were found for intensity of arm pain (P = 0.003, with high effect size d = 0.92) and for neck extension (P = 0.003 with high effect size d = 0.94).

CONCLUSION: LLLT gave more effective short-term relief of arm pain and increased range of neck extension in patients with acute neck pain with radiculopathy in comparison to the placebo procedure.

The effect of 300mW, 830nm laser on chronic neck pain: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study

Chow RT, Heller GZ, Barnsley L. Castle Hill Medical Centre, 269-271 Old Northern Road, Castle Hill, NSW 2154, Australia
Pain. 2006 Jun 23; [Epub ahead of print]

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in 90 subjects with chronic neck pain was conducted with the aim of determining the efficacy of 300mW, 830nm laser in the management of chronic neck pain. Subjects were randomized to receive a course of 14 treatments over 7 weeks with either active or sham laser to tender areas in the neck. The primary outcome measure was change in a 10cm Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) for pain. Secondary outcome measures included Short- Form 36 Quality-of-Life questionnaire (SF-36), Northwick Park Neck Pain Questionnaire (NPNQ), Neck Pain and Disability Scale (NPAD), the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) and Self-Assessed Improvement (SAI) in pain measured by VAS. Measurements were taken at baseline, at the end of 7 weeks' treatment and 12 weeks from baseline. The mean VAS pain scores improved by 2.7 in the treated group and worsened by 0.3 in the control group (difference 3.0, 95% CI 3.8-2.1). Significant improvements were seen in the active group compared to placebo for SF-36-Physical Score (SF36 PCS), NPNQ, NPAD, MPQVAS and SAI. The results of the SF-36 - Mental Score (SF36 MCS) and other MPQ component scores (afferent and sensory) did not differ significantly between the two groups. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT), at the parameters used in this study, was efficacious in providing pain relief for patients with chronic neck pain over a period of 3 months.

Low-power laser in osteoarthritis of the cervical spine

Monteforte P, Baratto L, Molfetta L, Rovetta G.
Rheumatology Department, University of Genova, Bruzzone Rheumatologic Center, Genoa, Italy.

Patients with symptomatic osteoarthritis of the cervical spine were treated with very low-power modulated laser (LPL). Two applications were performed at an interval of 20 days. Changes in pain and ultrasound thickness of the soft connective tissue layer above the right and the left superior trapezium were studied. No worsening of pain was observed. Pain improved after the first application of LPL in 9 out of 14 patients, but the difference was not significant. Pain improvement remained stable between the first assessment and the second assessment, which was performed after 20 days. In comparison with the first application, at the second application the number of patients with improved pain after LPL increased to 12 out of 14 (p < 0.01). An appreciable difference in the thickness of the subcutaneous soft tissue layer overlying the two superior trapezia was demonstrated in all patients at the first examination. Comparison of the measurements before and after the application of LPL showed significant differences.

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