Safety and Effectiveness of Chiropractic
Here are some interesting studies for you.
To summarize — Chiropractic is safe, and effective.
These studies look at risk of stroke (or lack thereof), safety of chiro and lumbar disc injuries, effect on migraine and headaches coming from the neck, effect on rotator cuff problems, lumbar stenosis, what happens in an adjustment, and effects on strength.
1. Stroke Risk
Annals of Medicine: “Manual therapy does not result in an increased risk of cervical artery dissection”
Chaibi A et al. A risk-benefit assessment strategy to exclude cervical artery dissection in spinal manual-therapy: A comprehensive review. Ann Med. 2019 Mar 19:1-27.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and Palmer College of Chiropractic performed a systematic review of the effectiveness of SMT for migraine and concluded that: “We observed that spinal manipulation reduced migraine days as well as migraine pain intensity.”
Rist PM et al. The Impact of Spinal Manipulation on Migraine Pain and Disability: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Headache. 2019 Apr;59(4):532-542.
3. Neck Pain
A systematic review of 47 randomized trials found that cervical manipulation is safe and effective:
- An effect in favor of thrust manipulation plus exercise compared to an exercise regimen alone for a reduction in pain and disability.
- Of the 25 studies (that evaluated adverse events), either no or minor events occurred.
- According to the published trials reviewed, manipulation and mobilization appear safe.
Coulter ID et al. Manipulation and Mobilization for Treating Chronic Nonspecific Neck Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis for an Appropriateness Panel. Pain Physician. 2019 Mar;22(2):E55-E70.
4. Rotator Cuff
A JMPT study found that thoracic SMT Increases Subacromial Space & ROM: “Active shoulder flexion and abduction mobility increase after manipulation of thoracic spine in (rotator cuff) patients. Subacromial space increases significantly after manipulation.”
Belón-Perez, Pedro et al. Immediate Effects of Thoracic Spine Manipulation Upon Shoulder Functionality in Patients With Sutured Rotator Cuff Repair: A Prospective Study Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics , Volume 41 , Issue 7 , 589 – 595
5. Lumbar Stenosis
A JAMA randomized clinical trial of 259 lumbar spine stenosis patients compared the effectiveness of three non-surgical options:
- Medical care consisted of medications and/or epidural injections provided by a physiatrist.
- Group exercise classes were supervised by fitness instructors in senior community centers.
- Manual therapy/individualized exercise consisted of spinal mobilization, stretches, and strength training provided by chiropractors and physical therapists.
The results: “manual therapy/individualized exercise had greater improvement of symptoms and physical function compared with medical care or group exercise.”
Schneider MJ, Ammendolia C, Murphy DR, et al. Comparative Clinical Effectiveness of Nonsurgical Treatment Methods in Patients With Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open.2019;2(1):e186828.
6. Safety of Lumbar Spine Manipulation
A study in the European Spine Journal found: “no evidence of excess risk for acute lumbar disc herniation associated with chiropractic compared with primary medical care.”
Hincapié, C.A., Tomlinson, G.A., Côté, P. et al. Chiropractic care and risk for acute lumbar disc herniation: a population-based self-controlled case series study.Eur Spine J (2018) 27: 1526.
7. Mechanism of Manipulation
A Spine Journal study was “the first to measure facet gapping during cervical manipulation on live humans”. The results demonstrate that:
- Target and adjacent motion segments undergo facet joint gapping (0.9 mm ± 0.4mm) during manipulation.
- Intervertebral range of motion is increased (8-13 degrees) in all three planes of motion after manipulation.
- Pain score improved from 3.7±1.2 before manipulation to 2.0±1.4 after manipulation.
Anderst WJ et al. Intervertebral Kinematics of the Cervical Spine Before, During and After High Velocity Low Amplitude Manipulation. The Spine Journal Volume 18, Issue 12, December 2018, Pages 2333-2342
8. Cervicogenic Headache
A Spine Journal study found that in patients suffering from cervicogenic headache, spinal manipulation cuts the number of symptomatic days in half:
“256 adults with chronic cervicogenic headache (CGH) were randomized to four dose levels of chiropractic SMT: 0, 6, 12, or 18 sessions. Participants were treated three times per week for 6 weeks and received a focused light-massage control at sessions when SMT was not assigned. A linear dose-response was observed for all follow-ups, a reduction of approximately 1 CGH day/month for each additional 6 SMT visits. Cervicogenic headache days/month were reduced from about 16 to 8 for the highest and most effective dose of 18 SMT visits.”
Haas M. et al. Dose-response and efficacy of spinal manipulation for care of cervicogenic headache: a dual-center randomized controlled trial. Spine J. 2018 Oct;18(10):1741-1754
9. Muscle Strength
A European study demonstrated that a single session of spinal manipulation increased muscle strength (MVC) and corticospinal excitability in elite athletes. “Following manipulation, the increased MVC force lasted for 30 min and the corticospinal excitability increase persisted for at least 60 min.” Christiansen, T.L., Niazi, I.K., Holt, K. et al. The effects of a single session of spinal manipulation on strength and cortical drive in athletes. Eur J Appl Physiol (2018).