Electrotherapy for neck pain.

The objective of this review was to assess whether electrotherapy improves pain, disability, patient satisfaction, and global perceived effect in adults with neck pain. Eighteen small trials (1043 people with neck pain) with 23 comparisons were included. Analysis was limited by trials of varied quality, heterogeneous treatment subtypes and conflicting results. The main findings for reduction of neck pain by treatment with electrotherapeutic modalities are:Very low quality evidence that pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF), repetitive magnetic stimulation (rMS) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are more effective than placebo.Low quality evidence that permanent magnets (necklace) are not more effective than placebo.Very low quality evidence that modulated galvanic current, iontophoresis and electric muscle stimulation (EMS) are not more effective than placebo.

No definite statements on the efficacy and clinical usefulness of electrotherapy modalities for neck pain can be made. Since the quality of evidence is low or very low, we are uncertain about the estimate of the effect. Current evidence for PEMF, rMS, and TENS shows that these modalities might be more effective than placebo but not other interventions.

Kroeling P, Gross A, Goldsmith CH, Burnie SJ, Haines T, Graham N, Brant A. Electrotherapy for neck pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;4:CD004251