The effectiveness of thoracic manipulation on patients with chronic mechanical neck pain – A randomized controlled trial

The aim of our study was to assess the effectiveness of thoracic manipulation (TM) on patients with chronic neck pain. 120 patients aged between 18 and 55 were randomly allocated into two groups: an experimental group which received TM and a control group without the manipulative procedure. Both groups received infrared radiation therapy (IRR) and a standard set of educational material. TM and IRR were given twice weekly for 8 sessions. Outcome measures included craniovertebral angle (CV angle), neck pain (Numeric Pain Rating Scale; NPRS), neck disability (Northwick Park Neck Disability Questionnaire; NPQ), health-related quality of life status (SF36 Questionnaire) and neck mobility. These outcome measures were assessed immediately after 8 sessions of treatment, 3-months and at a 6-month follow-up. Patients that received TM showed significantly greater improvement in pain intensity (p = 0.043), CV angle (p = 0.049), NPQ (p = 0.018), neck flexion (p = 0.005), and the Physical Component Score (PCS) of the SF36 Questionnaire (p = 0.002) than the control group immediately post-intervention. All these improvements were maintained at the 6-month follow-ups.

This study shows that TM was effective in reducing neck pain, improving dysfunction and neck posture and neck range of motion (ROM) for patients with chronic mechanical neck pain up to a half-year post-treatment.

Herman Mun Cheung Lau, Thomas Tai Wing Chiu, Tai-Hing Lam. The effectiveness of thoracic manipulation on patients with chronic mechanical neck pain – A randomized controlled trial. Manual Therapy, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 1 September 2010

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Research article posted by: Rachael Lowe

Rachael Lowe is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Physiopedia. A physiotherapist and technology specialist Rachael has been working with Physiopedia since 2008 to create a resource that provides universal access to physiotherapy knowledge as well as a platform for connecting and educating the global physiotherapy profession.

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