BUSTED: The Use of Neck Braces And The Top 5 Physiotherapy Myths

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You should wear a neck brace if you have a whiplash neck injury.


Or perhaps it’s just a myth.

Anne Mosley of the St George Institute of Global Health used the 15-year-old Physiotherapy Evidence Database of 28,000 studies to find compelling evidence to bust common physiotherapy myths.

“There are downsides to just letting these myths live on,” Dr Mosley says.

“Spending time and money on treatment that does not work often means that people miss out on the things that would improve their health.”

The top five myths are:

1. The type of mattress you sleep on prevents back pain.

Dr Mosley says: “Almost 80% of people suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. But no high-quality clinical research has been undertaken to answer the question around whether a particular type of mattress will prevent back pain. Any suggestions to the contrary are likely to be marketing tools.”

2. Stretching prevents injury and muscle soreness in recreational runners.

Dr Mosley says: “Millions of people around the world get their exercise from running. We’re often told we should warm up with stretches before we start, or stretch after we finish. But reviews have proved that this makes no difference to muscle soreness or injury prevention.”

3. You should wear a neck brace if you have a whiplash neck injury.

Dr Mosley says: “No, these don’t aid recovery. Whiplash occurs in around 60% of road accidents. We sometimes see celebrities and others wearing a neck brace after suffering whiplash, but these neck braces do not make any difference to recovery from whiplash.”

4. Ultrasound enhances recovery after ankle sprain.

Dr Mosley says: “Ankle sprains are the most common sports injury. There are many websites stating that ultrasound may aid ankle sprain recovery, but high quality clinical research has proved this is not true. Ankle sprains get better pretty quickly, regardless of intervention using ultrasound.”

5. Incentive spirometry, a device into which patients blow to help them take deep breaths, prevents complications in those undergoing upper abdominal surgery or cardiac surgery.

Dr Mosley says: “Given that abdominal and cardiac surgery are common, this means that many hundreds of thousands of patients are being given these devices and told their use will aid in recovery. We can pinpoint robust and major clinical research proving that it doesn’t work. We are surprised that medical specialists still use interventions that not only are unsupported by evidence, but evidence exists to show this doesn’t work.”

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