Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of thoracic high-velocity low-amplitude thrust (HVLAT) manipulation on quantitative and qualitative 3-dimensional cervical spine kinematic patterns in a subgroup of patients with acute neck pain.
Methods: Thirty patients with acute neck pain, aged 20 to 59, received a thoracic HVLAT manipulation. Three-dimensional kinematics of the cervical spine were registered pretreatment and posttreatment using an electromagnetic tracking system. Quantitative and qualitative parameters were calculated for axial rotation, lateral bending, and flexion-extension movement. Subjective pain ratings were measured with the visual analogue scale and the Neck Disability Index and were collected pretreatment and posttreatment.
Results: After treatment, the range of motion of the main motion improved significantly for axial rotation (P = .034), lateral bending (P < .001), and flexion-extension (P = .031). Although for axial rotation as the main motion, the smoothness of the flexion-extension movement improved significantly after treatment (P = .036), the reverse was true for flexion-extension as the main motion. Visual analogue scale scores exhibited a statistically (P < .001) and clinically significant reduction of pain sensation. The mean change in Neck Disability Index scores only exhibited a statistically significant improvement 1 week after treatment.
Conclusion: Thoracic HVLAT manipulation led to positive changes in quantitative and qualitative aspects of 3-dimensional cervical spine kinematics. Because of the 1-intervention group design, external factors influencing the healing process could not be eliminated.
Author keywords: Manipulation, Spinal; Range of Motion, Articular; Movement; Physiology; Neck Pain
Author affiliations: Department of Experimental Anatomy and Arthrokinematics Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
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