original abstract†Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
BACKGROUND: Ultrasound therapy is used frequently to reduce pain and related disability, mainly by physiotherapists. The objective of this review was to evaluate the effectiveness of ultrasound therapy in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders.
METHODS: Published reports of randomized clinical trials investigating the effects of ultrasound therapy on pain, disability or range of motion were identified by a systematic search of MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane databases, supplemented with citation tracking. The quality of methods of all selected publications was assessed systematically by two independent and 'blinded' reviewers, using ten validity criteria. Data from the original publications were used to calculate the differences between groups for success rate, pain, disability and range of motion. Statistical pooling was performed if studies were homogeneous with respect to study populations, interventions, outcome measures and timing of follow-up.
RESULTS: 38 Studies were included in the review, evaluating the effects of ultrasound therapy for lateral epicondylitis (n = 6), shoulder pain (n = 7), degenerative rheumatic disorders (n = 10), ankle distorsions (n = 4), temporomandibular pain or myofacial pain (n = 4) and a variety of other disorders (n = 7). In 11 out of 13 placebo-controlled trials with validity scores of at least five out of ten points, no evidence of clinically important or statistically significant results was found. Statistical pooling was only feasible for placebo-controlled trials on lateral epicondylitis, and produced a pooled estimate for the difference in success rate of 15% (95% confidence interval -8%-38%).
CONCLUSIONS: As yet, there seems to be little evidence to support the use of ultrasound therapy in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. The large majority of 13 randomized placebo-controlled trials with adequate methods did not support the existence of clinically important or statistically significant differences in favour of ultrasound therapy. Nevertheless, our findings for lateral epicondylitis may warrant further investigation.
These three articles on PainScience.com cite van der Windt 1999 as a source:
- PS Save Yourself from Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome! — Patellofemoral pain syndrome (aka runner’s knee) explained and discussed in great detail, including every imaginable self-treatment option and all the available scientific evidence
- PS Does Ultrasound Therapy Work? — Many concerns about the widespread usage of therapeutic ultrasound, especially extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT)
- PS Frozen Shoulder Guide — An extremely detailed & readable guide to one of the strangest of all common musculoskeletal problems, for both patients and pros
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Effectiveness of customised foot orthoses for Achilles tendinopathy: a randomised controlled trial. Munteanu 2015 Br J Sports Med.
- A Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis of the power pose effect with informed and default priors: the case of felt power. Gronau 2017 Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology.
- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.