Objective: The purpose of this study was to complete a systematic review of manual and manipulative therapy (MMT) for common upper extremity pain and disorders including the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
Methods: A literature search was conducted using the Cumulative Index of Nursing Allied Health Literature, PubMed, Manual, Alternative, and Natural Therapy Index System (MANTIS), Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro), Index to Chiropractic Literature, Google Scholar, and hand search inclusive of literature from January 1983 to March 5, 2012. Search limits included the English language and human studies along with MeSH terms such as manipulation, chiropractic, osteopathic, orthopedic, and physical therapies. Inclusion criteria required an extremity peripheral diagnosis (for upper extremity problems including the elbow, wrist, hand, finger and the (upper quadrant) temporomandibular joint) and MMT with or without multimodal therapy. Studies were assessed using the PEDro scale in conjunction with modified guidelines and systems. After synthesis and considered judgment scoring was complete, evidence grades of “A, B, C and I” were applied.
Results: Out of 764 citations reviewed, 129 studies were deemed possibly to probably useful and/or relevant to develop expert consensus. Out of 81 randomized controlled or clinical trials, 35 were included. Five controlled or clinical trials were located and 4 were included. Fifty case series, reports and/or single-group pre-test post-test prospective case series were located with 32 included. There is Fair (B) level of evidence for MMT to specific joints and the full kinetic chain combined generally with exercise and/or multimodal therapy for lateral epicondylopathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and temporomandibular joint disorders, in the short term.
Conclusion: The information from this study will help guide practitioners in the use of MMT, soft tissue technique, exercise, and/or multimodal therapy for the treatment of a variety of upper extremity complaints in the context of the hierarchy of published and available evidence.
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