The aim of this meta-analysis was to determine the effectiveness of spinal manipulation in influencing various biochemical markers in healthy and or symptomatic population. Electronic databases (n = 10) were searched (from inception till September 2016) and eight trials (325 participants) that met the inclusion criteria were included in the meta-analysis. Two authors independently extracted and assessed the risk of bias in included studies. Standardised mean differences for outcome measures were used to calculate effect sizes.
The Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) tool was used for assessing the quality of the body of evidence for each outcome of interest. There was moderate quality evidence that spinal manipulation influenced biochemical markers. There was moderate quality evidence of significant difference that spinal manipulation is better (SMD -0.46, 95% CI – 0.93 to 0) than control in eliciting changes in cortisol levels immediately after intervention. There was also a low quality evidence that spinal manipulation is better than control at post-intervention in increasing substance-P (SMD -0.48,95%CI-0.87 to -0.1), neurotensin (SMD -1.8,95%CI-2.56 to -1.04) and oxytocin levels (SMD -2.61,95%CI-3.5to-1.72). However, low quality evidence indicated that spinal manipulation did not influence epinephrine (SMD 0.1,95%CI- 0.56to0.75) or nor-epinephrine levels (SMD -0.06,95%CI-0.71to0.6).
The current review found that spinal manipulation can increase substance-p, neurotensin, oxytocin and interleukin levels and may influence cortisol levels post-intervention. However, future trials targeting symptomatic populations are required to understand the clinical importance of such changes.