Public Release: 

Literature review shows spinal manipulation beneficial for neck pain

American Chiropractic Association

A new literature review finds evidence that patients with chronic neck pain enrolled in clinical trials reported significant improvement following chiropractic spinal manipulation, according to a March/April 2007 report in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT).

According to Howard Vernon, DC, PhD, the review's chief author, "The results of the literature review confirm the common clinical experience of doctors of chiropractic: neck manipulation is beneficial for patients with certain forms of chronic neck pain."

As part of the literature review, Dr. Vernon and his colleagues reviewed nine previously published trials and found "high-quality evidence" that patients with chronic neck pain showed significant pain-level improvements following spinal manipulation. No trial group was reported to remain unchanged, and all groups showed positive changes up to 12 weeks post treatment. No trial reported any serious adverse effects.

This literature review did not include studies involving patients with acute neck pain, neck and arm pain, neck pain due to whiplash, or those with headaches. In this review, chronic neck pain was defined as being a minimum of 8 weeks duration.

Researchers also found that mobilization therapy was beneficial in improving patients' pain levels, with many achieving full recovery after six to seven weeks of treatment; however, the current evidence did not support a similar level of benefit from massage therapy.

Neck pain is a very common complaint - approximately 15 percent of women and 10 percent of men are estimated to have chronic neck pain at any one time. According to a report issued by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, 18 percent of chiropractic patients list neck pain as their chief complaint.

Spinal manipulation, commonly referred to as a chiropractic adjustment, is the main therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic. The purpose of manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypomobile.

Chiropractors practice a hands-on, drug-free approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of back pain, neck pain, headaches and other neuromusculoskeletal complaints. In addition, a significant amount of evidence shows that the use of chiropractic care for certain conditions can be more effective and less costly than traditional medical care.

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The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT), the premier biomedical publication in the chiropractic profession and the official scientific journal of the American Chiropractic Association, provides the latest information on current research developments, as well as clinically oriented research and practical information for use in clinical settings.

Note to editors: To receive an electronic copy of the study, contact Angela Kargus at akargus@acatoday.org.

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