Comparison of The Effectiveness of Exercise Therapy and Electroacupuncture in Patients with Forward Head Abnormalities and Myofascial Pain Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2023 Apr 8:37:34. doi: 10.47176/mjiri.37.34. eCollection 2023.


Background: Forward Head Posture (FHP), which refers to the head being more forward than the shoulder, is one of the most common postural defects of all ages. Therefore, in this study, we aimed to compare the effectiveness of exercise therapy and electroacupuncture in patients with FHP and myofascial pain syndrome (MPS).

Methods: The present study was an open-label randomized clinical trial. A total of 61 patients with FHP and MPS who were referred to the physical medicine clinic of Besat Hospital between 2020 and 2021 were analyzed. Patients in one group were treated with electroacupuncture, and another one was treated with exercise therapy. The primary outcomes were FHP angles (CVA, CA, and shoulder angle), pain intensity (VAS), and quality of life (SF-12). Paired t-test was used to compare the results obtained in the pre-test and post-test. To detect differences over time, the analysis of variance models was used to repeat the observations. If the p-test result is less than the test significance level of 0.05, the null hypothesis is not confirmed.

Results: The rate of final CVA and increase in CVA in the exercise therapy group were significantly higher than in the electroacupuncture group (P < 0.001). The average shoulder angle in the exercise therapy group increased from 47.1° ± 3.0° to 51.9° ± 3.3° (P < 0.001) and in the electroacupuncture group from 47.9° ± 3.1° to 51.0° ± 2.8° (P < 0.001). A significant difference was observed between the two groups in terms of pain intensity changes during the study.

Conclusion: Overall, the results of this study showed that both exercise therapy and electroacupuncture significantly improved patients' posture, reduced pain intensity, and increased quality of life in FHP patients with MPS; But exercise therapy was more effective in improving FHP angles and electroacupuncture was more successful in reducing patients' pain intensity.

Keywords: Electroacupuncture; Exercise Therapy; Forward Head Posture; Myofascial Pain Syndrome.