DESIGN AND SETTING: A comprehensive literature search was performed in MEDLINE, CINHAHL, AMED, MANTIS, Index to Chiropractic Literature, Alt HealthWatch, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Registry, and several EBSCO Information Services databases. Systematic retrieval and evaluation procedures were used.
RESULTS: The search generated 1980 citations. Four trials (5 publications) were accepted according to the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Three trials used a form of spinal manual therapy. One of these trials used only one manipulation and reported immediate effects on pain, with real manipulation producing significantly greater pain reduction than control procedure. The other 2 of these trials reported on outcomes over 1 to 3 weeks. In 1 trial, the group receiving manipulation showed significantly greater pain reduction at 1 week than did the group receiving only medication. In the other trial, the group receiving transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation had a significantly greater level of pain reduction at 3 weeks. In the fourth trial, exercise was compared to passive physiotherapy; however, outcomes were not reported until 6 and 12 months, so the results cannot be compared to the natural history of acute neck pain not due to whiplash.
CONCLUSION: There is limited evidence of the benefit of spinal manipulation and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation in the treatment of acute neck pain not due to whiplash injury. There is a dearth of high-quality clinical trials of conservative treatments for this condition.
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