Background Analgesic therapies; such as interferential current (IFC) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) have been applied solo or combined with exercise for management of neck pain (NP), however, the efficacy of these combinations are unclear.
Objectives To determine if TENS or IFC increase the effectiveness of neck stabilization exercises on pain, disability, mood, and quality of life for chronic NP.
Methods 60 patients with chronic NP were included in the study. Patients were randomly assigned into 3 groups; Group I: neck stabilization exercise, Group II: TENS+ neck stabilization exercise and Group III: IFC+ neck stabilization exercise. Patients' pain levels (visual analogue scale (VAS)), quality of life (short form- 36), mood (Beck depression inventory (BDI)), levels of disability (Neck Pain and Disability Index) and the need for analgesics were evaluated prior to treatment, at 6th and 12th week follow-up. All participants had group exercise accompanied by a physiotherapist for 3 weeks and an additional 3 weeks of home exercise program.
Results All three groups had statistically significant improvement regarding their VAS, neck disability index and most sub-scores of short form-36 (p<0,05). At 12th- week follow-up, no difference was found between groups regarding pain, disability, and quality of life (p>0,05). On the other hand, analyses indicated significantly lower scores of neck disability index (p=0.004) and less need for paracetamol (p=0.036) in TENS group 6th-week follow-up when compared to exercise and IFC groups.
Conclusions All treatment modalities improved pain, disability, mood and quality of life in patients with chronic NP. Besides, results suggest TENS enhanced the efficacy of exercise therapy on pain, disability and need for analgesics in acute phase but not in long term, since there was no difference at 12th week follow-up. To conclude, we think exercise protocols can be of choice since they are inexpensive, easy and effective in the management of chronic NP.
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Disclosure of Interest None declared