Hardly any form of physiotherapy has been proven to work and there is sufficient evidence to suggest that ultrasound therapy is of no benefit at all, a controversial Dutch study has concluded.

Very few of the treatments have been properly tested scientifically, the researchers complain, even though up to one third of all patients in Holland with shoulder problems are referred to a physiotherapist.

Researchers from the Institute for Rehabilitation Research at Hoensbroek in the Netherlands analyzed 20 trials, of which only six matched their scientific criteria. Most of the rest were flawed, they said.

Of those that were scientific, they concluded that ultrasound therapy was shown not to be effective, and the researchers questioned four other trials that favoured laser therapy and manipulation (BMJ, 1997; 315: 25-30).

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