Deep transverse friction massage for treating tendinitis

L Brosseau, L Casimiro, S Milne, V Robinson, B Shea, P Tugwell, G Wells
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2002, (1): CD003528

BACKGROUND: Deep transverse friction massage (DTFM) is one of several physiotherapy interventions suggested for the management of pain due to iliotibial band friction syndrome (ITBFS).

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness of DTFM for treating ITBFS observed in runners.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Medline, Embase, Healthstar, Sports Discus, CINAHL, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, PEDro, the specialized registry of the Cochrane musculoskeletal group and the Cochrane field of Physical and Related Therapies up to the end of December 2000, using the sensitive search strategy developed by the Cochrane Collaboration. The search was complemented with bibliography searching of the reference list of the trials retrieved from the electronic search. Key experts in the area were contacted for further published and unpublished articles.

SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and controlled clinical trials (CCTs) comparing therapeutic ultrasound against placebo or another active intervention in patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome were selected.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers determined the studies to be included based on inclusion and exclusion criteria (LB, VR). Data were independently abstracted by two reviewers (VR, LB), and checked by a third reviewer (BS) using a pre-developed form of the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group. The same two reviewers, using a validated scale, assessed the methodological quality of the RCTs and CCTs independently. Iliotibial band friction syndrome outcome measures were extracted from the publications. The pooled analysis was performed using weighted mean differences (WMDs) for pain relief as described as 1) daily pain; 2) pain while running and 3) percentage of maximum pain when running. A chi-square test was used to assess heterogeneity among trials. Fixed effects models were used throughout and random effects for outcomes showing heterogeneity.

MAIN RESULTS: One RCT, including 17 patients with ITBFS was included. The experimental group (DTFM combined to rest, stretching exercises, cryotherapy and therapeutic ultrasound) (n=9) was compared to the control group (rest, stretching exercises, cryotherapy and therapeutic ultrasound only) (n=8). This trial showed no statistical difference in the three types of pain relief measured after four consecutive sessions of DTFM combined with other physiotherapy modalities for runners. Despite lack of statistical significance, there was a clinically important relative percentage difference in pain while running of 22%.

REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: DTFM combined with other physiotherapy modalities did not show consistent benefit over control of pain for runners experiencing ITBFS. These conclusions are limited by the low methodological quality of the one small sample size trial (n=17) included. No conclusions can be drawn about the use or non use of DTFM for the treatment of ITBFS. Future trials, utilizing appropriate methods and adequate sample sizes are needed before conclusions can be drawn regarding the effect of massage on iliotibial band friction syndrome.

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