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.
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