A systematic review of the non-invasive therapeutic modalities in the treatment of myofascial pain and dysfunction
Roopchand, Adelle Kemlall
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Background: Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction (MPD) is a diagnosis commonly encountered by practitioners, hence, there are several treatment approaches employed by various practicing physicians. Practitioners are required to perform evidence-based protocols on patients; however, such intervention becomes increasingly difficult with the increasing volume of evidence available with regards to treatment of MPD. A systematic review provides a well-structured, critical analysis of the available protocols, and as such, provides practitioners with an evidence-based summary of the available modalities and the effectiveness of these modalities. Thus, the aim of the study was to systematically review and evaluate the literature to determine the effects of various non-invasive modalities on MPD. Objectives: Studies investigating various non-invasive modalities were identified, evaluated against the inclusion criteria and then reviewed against PEDro criteria to present current available evidence regarding their effectiveness as a source of treatment for MPD. Methods: A literature search was conducted, based on key terms including: active and latent myofascial trigger points, manual therapy, manipulation, acupressure, massage, muscle stretching, ultrasound, transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation, electric stimulation therapy, magnetic field therapy, and exercise therapy. Databases searched were: PubMed, EBSCOhost, Medline, CINAL, Proquest, Health Source, Sport Discus, Science Direct, Springer Link, Google Scholar and Summons. The articles were screened according to inclusion and exclusion criteria, after which a secondary hand and reference searches were performed. Thereafter, the articles were reviewed by four independent reviewers and the researcher. The PEDro Scale was used to determine methodological rigor of the included studies. The results were then analysed and ranked. Results: Following the screening process during data collection for this study, a total of 25 studies were identified and included. The review and ranking of these studies revealed a moderate level of evidence present for the effectiveness of Topical Agents. A limited level of evidence was noted for TENS, Ischemic Compression, Ultrasound, Laser and Other Modalities. Approximately 25% of the reviewed studies involved combination therapies; hence their outcomes cannot be applied to the effectiveness of individual modalities. Conclusion: Upon comparison of the quality of evidence available for the various types of modalities present for the treatment of MPD, it was noted that Topical Agents were supported by a stronger level of evidence than TENS, Ischeamic Compression, Ultrasound, Laser and Other Modalities. However, due to a lack of strong overall evidence for any of these modalities it has been concluded that more research is required to establish which modality is in fact the most effective.