Background: Manipulation-induced hypoalgesia (MIH) represents reduced pain sensitivity following joint manipulation, and has been documented in various populations. It is unknown, however, whether MIH following high-velocity low-amplitude spinal manipulative therapy is a specific and clinically relevant treatment effect.
Methods: This systematic critical review with meta-analysis investigated changes in quantitative sensory testing measures following high-velocity low-amplitude spinal manipulative therapy in musculoskeletal pain populations, in randomised controlled trials. Our objectives were to compare changes in quantitative sensory testing outcomes after spinal manipulative therapy vs. sham, control and active interventions, to estimate the magnitude of change over time, and to determine whether changes are systemic or not.
Results: Fifteen studies were included. Thirteen measured pressure pain threshold, and four of these were sham-controlled. Change in pressure pain threshold after spinal manipulative therapy compared to sham revealed no significant difference. Pressure pain threshold increased significantly over time after spinal manipulative therapy (0.32 kg/cm2, CI 0.22–0.42), which occurred systemically. There were too few studies comparing to other interventions or for other types of quantitative sensory testing to make robust conclusions about these.
Conclusions: We found that systemic MIH (for pressure pain threshold) does occur in musculoskeletal pain populations, though there was low quality evidence of no significant difference compared to sham manipulation. Future research should focus on the clinical relevance of MIH, and different types of quantitative sensory tests.
Trial registration: Prospectively registered with PROSPERO (registration CRD42016041963).
Author keywords: Spinal manipulative therapy — Quantitative sensory testing — Pain sensitivity — Hypoalgesia — Musculoskeletal pain
Author affiliations: SLA, CL-Y, BFW: School of Health Professions, Murdoch University, Perth, WA Australia; CL-Y: Institute of Regional Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark; SJE: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Perth, WA Australia
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