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Concept: Spinal manipulation


Functional Neurology (FN), a seemingly attractive treatment approach used by some chiropractors, proposes to have an effect on a multitude of conditions but some of its concepts are controversial.

Concepts: Manual therapy, Medicine, Alternative medicine, Spinal manipulation, Chiropractic


The chiropractic vitalistic approach to the concept of ‘subluxation’ as a cause of disease lacks both biological plausibility and possibly proof of validity. Nonetheless, some chiropractors purport to prevent disease in general through the use of chiropractic care. Evidence of its effect is needed to be allowed to continue this practice. The objective of this systematic review was therefore to investigate if there is any evidence that spinal manipulations/chiropractic care can be used in primary prevention (PP) and/or early secondary prevention in diseases other than musculoskeletal conditions.

Concepts: Alternative medicine, Innate intelligence, Preventive medicine, Spinal manipulation, Vertebral subluxation, Vitalism, Prevention, Chiropractic


BACKGROUND: The popping produced during high-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) thrust manipulation is a common sound; however to our knowledge, no study has previously investigated the location of cavitation sounds during manipulation of the upper cervical spine. The primary purpose was to determine which side of the spine cavitates during C1-2 rotatory HVLA thrust manipulation. Secondary aims were to calculate the average number of pops, the duration of upper cervical thrust manipulation, and the duration of a single cavitation. METHODS: Nineteen asymptomatic participants received two upper cervical thrust manipulations targeting the right and left C1-2 articulation, respectively. Skin mounted microphones were secured bilaterally over the transverse process of C1, and sound wave signals were recorded. Identification of the side, duration, and number of popping sounds were determined by simultaneous analysis of spectrograms with audio feedback using custom software developed in Matlab. RESULTS: Bilateral popping sounds were detected in 34 (91.9%) of 37 manipulations while unilateral popping sounds were detected in just 3 (8.1%) manipulations; that is, cavitation was significantly (P < 0.001) more likely to occur bilaterally than unilaterally. Of the 132 total cavitations, 72 occurred ipsilateral and 60 occurred contralateral to the targeted C1-2 articulation. In other words, cavitation was no more likely to occur on the ipsilateral than the contralateral side (P = 0.294). The mean number of pops per C1-2 rotatory HVLA thrust manipulation was 3.57 (95% CI: 3.19, 3.94) and the mean number of pops per subject following both right and left C1-2 thrust manipulations was 6.95 (95% CI: 6.11, 7.79). The mean duration of a single audible pop was 5.66 ms (95% CI: 5.36, 5.96) and the mean duration of a single manipulation was 96.95 ms (95% CI: 57.20, 136.71). CONCLUSIONS: Cavitation was significantly more likely to occur bilaterally than unilaterally during upper cervical HVLA thrust manipulation. Most subjects produced 3--4 pops during a single rotatory HVLA thrust manipulation targeting the right or left C1-2 articulation; therefore, practitioners of spinal manipulative therapy should expect multiple popping sounds when performing upper cervical thrust manipulation to the atlanto-axial joint. Furthermore, the traditional manual therapy approach of targeting a single ipsilateral or contralateral facet joint in the upper cervical spine may not be realistic.

Concepts: Joint mobilization, Unilateralism, Bilateralism, Spinal manipulation, Average, Vertebral column, Arithmetic mean, Joint manipulation


Physical manipulation and manual therapies are thousands of years old. The most popular western world iteration of these therapies is delivered by chiropractors. It can be argued that the collective public health benefit from chiropractic for spinal pain has been very substantial, however as chiropractic has transitioned from craft to profession it has encountered many internally and externally driven machinations that have retarded its progress to a fully accepted allied health profession. This article sets out a ten point plan for a new chiropractic that will achieve full acceptance for this troubled profession.

Concepts: Spinal manipulation, Healthcare occupations, Manual therapy, Allied health professions, Health care


Spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is a widely used manual treatment, but many reviews exist with conflicting conclusions about the safety of SMT. We performed an overview of reviews to elucidate and quantify the risk of serious adverse events (SAEs) associated with SMT.

Concepts: Manual therapy, Spinal manipulation, Chiropractic, Joint manipulation


OBJECTIVE: To assess the significance of adverse events after spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) by replicating and critically reviewing a paper commonly cited when reviewing adverse events of SMT as reported by Ernest (J Roy Soc Med 100:330–338, 2007). METHOD: Replication of a 2007 Ernest paper to compare the details recorded in this paper to the original source material. Specific items that were assessed included the time lapse between treatment and the adverse event, and the recording of other significant risk factors such as diabetes, hyperhomocysteinemia, use of oral contraceptive pill, any history of hypertension, atherosclerosis and migraine. RESULTS: The review of the 32 papers discussed by Ernest found numerous errors or inconsistencies from the original case reports and case series. These errors included alteration of the age or sex of the patient, and omission or misrepresentation of the long term response of the patient to the adverse event. Other errors included incorrectly assigning spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) as chiropractic treatment when it had been reported in the original paper as delivered by a non-chiropractic provider (e.g. Physician).The original case reports often omitted to record the time lapse between treatment and the adverse event, and other significant clinical or risk factors. The country of origin of the original paper was also overlooked, which is significant as chiropractic is not legislated in many countries. In 21 of the cases reported by Ernest to be chiropractic treatment, 11 were from countries where chiropractic is not legislated. CONCLUSION: The number of errors or omissions in the 2007 Ernest paper, reduce the validity of the study and the reported conclusions. The omissions of potential risk factors and the timeline between the adverse event and SMT could be significant confounding factors. Greater care is also needed to distinguish between chiropractors and other health practitioners when reviewing the application of SMT and related adverse effects.

Concepts: Adverse event, Clinical trial, Joint manipulation, Chiropractic treatment techniques, Spinal adjustment, Spinal manipulation, Chiropractic, Combined oral contraceptive pill


Study Design. Retrospective cohort studyObjective. In older adults with a neuromusculoskeletal complaint, to evaluate risk of injury to the head, neck or trunk following an office visit for chiropractic spinal manipulation, as compared to office visit for evaluation by primary care physicianSummary of Background Data. The risk of physical injury due to spinal manipulation has not been rigorously evaluated for older adults, a population particularly vulnerable to traumatic injury in general.Methods. We analyzed Medicare administrative data on Medicare B beneficiaries aged 66-99 with an office visit in 2007 for a neuromusculoskeletal complaint. Using a Cox proportional hazards model, we evaluated for adjusted risk of injury within 7 days, comparing two cohorts: those treated by chiropractic spinal manipulation vs. those evaluated by a primary care physician. We used direct adjusted survival curves to estimate the cumulative probability of injury. In the chiropractic cohort only, we used logistic regression to evaluate the effect of specific chronic conditions on likelihood of injury.Results. The adjusted risk of injury in the chiropractic cohort was lower as compared to the primary care cohort (hazard ratio 0.24; 95% CI 0.23-0.25). The cumulative probability of injury in the chiropractic cohort was 40 injury incidents per 100,000 subjects, as compared to 153 incidents per 100,000 subjects in the primary care cohort. Among subjects who saw a chiropractic physician, the likelihood of injury was increased in those with a chronic coagulation defect, inflammatory spondylopathy, osteoporosis, aortic aneurysm and dissection, or long-term use of anticoagulant therapy.Conclusions. Among Medicare beneficiaries aged 66-99 with an office visit risk for a neuromusculoskeletal problem, risk of injury to the head, neck or trunk within 7 days was 76% lower among subjects with a chiropractic office visit as compared to those who saw a primary care physician.

Concepts: Hazard ratio, Physical trauma, Spinal manipulation, Injury, Chiropractic, Proportional hazards models, Regression analysis, Survival analysis


To examine beliefs about cracking sounds heard during high-velocity low-amplitude (HVLA) thrust spinal manipulation in individuals with and without personal experience of this technique.

Concepts: Chiropractic treatment techniques, Cracking joints, Spinal adjustment, Spinal manipulation, Joint manipulation


The purposes of this study were to evaluate patients with low-back pain (LBP) and leg pain due to magnetic resonance imaging-confirmed disc herniation who are treated with high-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulation in terms of their short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes of self-reported global impression of change and pain levels at various time points up to 1 year and to determine if outcomes differ between acute and chronic patients using a prospective, cohort design.

Concepts: Spinal manipulation, Chiropractic, Joint manipulation, Cohort study, Spinal disc herniation


BACKGROUND: The symptom ‘dizziness’ is common in patients with chronic whiplash related disorders. However, little is known about dizziness in neck pain patients who have not suffered whiplash. Therefore, the purposes of this study are to compare baseline factors and clinical outcomes of neck pain patients with and without dizziness undergoing chiropractic treatment and to compare outcomes based on gender. METHODS: This prospective cohort study compares adult neck pain patients with dizziness (n = 177) to neck pain patients without dizziness (n = 228) who presented for chiropractic treatment, (no chiropractic or manual therapy in the previous 3 months). Patients completed the numerical pain rating scale (NRS) and Bournemouth questionnaire (BQN) at baseline. At 1, 3 and 6 months after start of treatment the NRS and BQN were completed along with the Patient Global Impression of Change (PGIC) scale. Demographic information was also collected. Improvement at each follow-up data collection point was categorized using the PGIC as ‘improved’ or ‘not improved’. Differences between the two groups for NRS and BQN subscale and total scores were calculated using the unpaired Student’s t-test. Gender differences between the patients with dizziness were also calculated using the unpaired t-test. RESULTS: Females accounted for 75% of patients with dizziness. The majority of patients with and without dizziness reported clinically relevant improvement at 1, 3 and 6 months with 80% of patients with dizziness and 78% of patients without dizziness being improved at 6 months. Patients with dizziness reported significantly higher baseline NRS and BQN scores, but at 6 months there were no significant differences between patients with and without dizziness for any of the outcome measures. Females with dizziness reported higher levels of depression compared to males at 1, 3 and 6 months (p = 0.007, 0.005, 0.022). CONCLUSIONS: Neck pain patients with dizziness reported significantly higher pain and disability scores at baseline compared to patients without dizziness. A high proportion of patients in both groups reported clinically relevant improvement on the PGIC scale. At 6 months after start of chiropractic treatment there were no differences in any outcome measures between the two groups.

Concepts: Sex, Female, Male, Spinal manipulation, Normal distribution, Chiropractic, Student's t-test, Gender