Thermotherapy self-treatment for neck pain relief-A randomized controlled trial

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Journal Article
European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2012, 4 (4)
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Aim of the study: To evaluate the potential of thermotherapy self-treatment in relieving pain and improving sensory function in patients with chronic mechanical neck pain. Materials and methods: Fifty patients (74% female; mean age 57.18 ± 12.3. years) with chronic mechanical neck pain were randomized to either treatment group (n= 25) or control group (n= 25). Treatment group used a mud heat pad once a day for 20. min over a period of 14. days while the control group was left untreated. Both groups were allowed to continue self-directed usual care. Primary outcome measure was neck pain intensity as assessed by a 100. mm visual analog scale (VAS) after 14. days. Secondary outcome measures included a pain diary (daily measure of pain intensity on a 100. mm VAS), functional disability (neck disability index; NDI) and health-related quality of life (short form-36; SF-36). Physiological measures included mechanical detection threshold (MDT), pressure pain threshold (PPT) and vibration detection threshold (VDT) at the site of maximal pain and in the adjacent region. Results: Significant group differences occurred for pain intensity (mean difference -16.00. mm; 95% confidence interval -26.07; -5.92; P= 0.003) and pain diary (P= 0.013). Group differences for MDT and VDT occurred at the site of maximal pain (MDT: P< 0.001; VDT: P= 0.035) and in the adjacent region (MDT: P= 0.042; VDT: P= 0.008). No group differences were found in NDI, SF-36 or PPT. Conclusions: Thermotherapy self-treatment seems to be effective in relieving pain and improving sensory functioning in patients with chronic mechanical neck pain. Further research is needed to underpin these preliminary results. © 2012 Elsevier GmbH.
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