The purpose of this study was to compare SPA therapy (ST) with pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy in chronic neck pain.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Inclusion criteria were age between 18 and 80 years, neck pain of more than 3 months’ duration and pain score>30 mm on a visual analog scale (VAS). Exclusion criteria were contraindication to ST or PEMF. The protocol was approved by the ethics committee of Grenoble Hospital. Randomisation to the ST (n=44) and PEMF groups (n=42) was blinded. The main outcome measure was number of improved patients at 6 months in each group. A patient was considered improved if pain score decreased by more than 20%. Secondary measures were score on the Copenhagen and MOS SF-36 scales. Evaluation and intent-to-treat analysis were also blinded.
Patients’ preferences were for PEMF. At 6 months, in the PEMF group, 33 patients were improved, 5 not improved and 4 lost to follow-up. In the ST group, 24 patients were improved, 14 not improved and 6 lost to follow-up, for significantly greater improvement in the PEMF than ST group (p=0.02). Significant improvement was seen in both groups in terms of pain score, Copenhagen scale score and score on some dimensions of the MOS SF-36 survey.
PEMF seems to be superior to standard ST without massage in control of neck pain. The difference between groups, although perhaps biased, seem to suggest the importance of our conclusions.
Centre de recherche rhumatologique et thermal, BP 234, 73102 Aix-les-Bains cedex, France. [email protected]