Objective: The purpose of the current randomized clinical trial was to examine the effects of cervical thrust manipulation or sham manipulation on cervicocephalic kinaesthetic sense, pain, pain-related disability, and pressure pain sensitivity in patients with mechanical neck pain.
Methods: Fifty-four individuals with neck pain were randomly assigned to receive either a cervical manipulation (right or left) or a sham manipulation. Immediate outcomes included cervical kinesthetic sense as assessed by joint position sense error (JPSE) and pressure pain thresholds (PPTs). At 1 week, neck pain intensity (numerical pain rate scale) and neck pain-related disability (Neck Disability Index [NDI]) outcomes were also collected.
Results: The mixed-model analysis of covariance revealed a significant group × time interaction in favor of the cervical thrust manipulation group for the JPSE on rotation and extension. There was also a significant interaction for changes in PPTs at C5 to C6 and tibialis anterior. At the 1-week follow-up, a significant interaction existed for neck-related disability but not for neck pain at rest, worst pain, or lowest pain experienced the preceding week.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that cervical spine thrust manipulation improves JPSE, PPT and NDI in participants with chronic mechanical neck pain. Furthermore, changes in JPSE and NDI were large and surpass published minimal detectable changes for these outcome measures. In addition, the effect sizes of PPTs were medium; however, only C5 to C6 zygapophyseal joint exceeded the minimal detectable change. In contrast, cervical thrust manipulation did not improve neck pain intensity at 1 week after the intervention.
Author keywords: Neck Pain, Pain, Manipulation, Spinal
Author affiliations: DG-P-J: Doctorate School, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcón, Spain; CF-de_L-P: Department of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcón, Spain; JLA-B, RO-S: Department of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcón, Spain; JAC: Department of Physical Therapy, Franklin Pierce University, Manchester, New Hampshire; GP-M: Department of Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine, Medical Hydrology, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
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