Spinal manipulation (SM) is a manual therapy technique often used to treat musculoskeletal disorders because of its analgesic effects. It is defined by a manual procedure involving a directed impulse to move a joint past its physiologic range of movement (ROM). In this sense, to exceed the physiologic ROM of a joint could trigger tissue damage, which might represent an adverse effect associated with spinal manipulation. The present work attempts to explore the presence of tissue damage associated with SM through the damage markers analysis. Thirty healthy subjects recruited at the University of Jaén were submitted to a placebo SM (control group; n = 10), a single lower cervical manipulation (cervical group; n = 10), and a thoracic manipulation (n = 10). Prior to the intervention, blood samples were extracted and centrifuged to obtain plasma and serum. The procedure was repeated right after the intervention and two hours after the intervention. Tissue damage markers creatine phosphokinase (CPK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), C-reactive protein (CRP), troponin-I, myoglobin, neuron-specific enolase (NSE), and aldolase were determined in samples. Statistical analysis was performed through a 3 × 3 mixed-model ANOVA. Neither cervical manipulation nor thoracic manipulation did produce significant changes in the CPK, LDH, CRP, troponin-I, myoglobin, NSE, or aldolase blood levels.
These data suggest that the mechanical strain produced by SM appears to be innocuous to the joints and surrounding tissues in healthy subjects.