Clinical Scenario: Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common entrapment neuropathy of the upper-extremity. Due to the involvement of the median nerve, long-term compression of this nerve can lead to hand dysfunction and disability that can impact work and daily life. As such, early treatment is warranted to prevent any long-term damage to the median nerve. Conservative management is utilized in those with mild to moderate CTS. Neural mobilizations can aid in the reduction of neural edema, neural mobility, and neural adhesion while improving nerve conduction. Clinical Question: Is neurodynamics effective in reducing pain and reported symptoms in those with CTS? Summary of Key Findings: Four studies were included, with 2 studies utilizing passive neural mobilizations, one study using active techniques, and one study using active neural mobilizations with splinting. All studies showed large effect size for pain, symptom severity, and physical function. Clinical Bottom Line: Neurodynamics is an effective treatment for CTS. Splinting is only effective when combined with neurodynamics. Strength of Recommendation: Level B evidence to support the use of neurodynamics for the treatment of CTS.
Stephanie Wise and Jordan Bettleyon
Jordan Bettleyon and Thomas W. Kaminski
Clinical Scenario: Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a controversial topic for its use in athletic recovery, mainly due to inconsistency in research regarding the application of LLLT. Articles on LLLT have assessed its effectiveness in untrained humans through pain scales, functional scales, and blood draws, and it has been found capable in nonathletic rehabilitative use. The controversy lies with LLLT in the recovering athlete. Not only do athletes need to perform at high levels, but each sport is unique in the metabolic demands placed on the athletes’ bodies. This modality can alter chemical mediators of the inflammatory process, specifically blood lactate (BL) and creatine kinase (CK). During soccer contests, it is a common problem for athletes to have an average CK level of 800 U/L and BL of 8 mmol·L, increasing delayed-onset muscle soreness and fatigue. Micro-CK level elevation is associated with cellular membrane damage, localized hypoxia, and electrolyte imbalances, hindering the recovery process. Clinical Question: Does LLLT decrease muscle-damaging mediators effecting player fatigue and delayed-onset muscle soreness after performance in soccer athletes versus sham treatment? Summary of Key Findings: In 3 studies, preperformance, postperformance, or preperformance and postperformance LLLT was performed and evaluated BL (2 of 3) and CK (2 of 3). In each article, BL and CK showed a significant decrease (P < .05) when performed either preperformance or postperformance versus the control group. The greatest decrease in these mediators was noticed when postperformance laser therapy was performed. Clinical Bottom Line: LLLT at 10, 30, or 50 J performed at a minimum of 2 locations on the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, and vastus medialis bilaterally for 10 seconds each is significant in decreasing blood serum levels of BL and CK when performed postexercise. Strength of Recommendations: All 3 articles obtained a Physiotherapy Evidence Database score of ≥8/10.