Background: Spinal manipulative therapy is an effective treatment for neck pain. However, the mechanisms underlying its clinical efficacy are not fully understood. Previous studies have not systematically compared force-time parameters and electromyographic responses associated with spinal manipulation. In this study, force-time parameters and electromyographic characteristics associated with multiple manual high-velocity, low-amplitude cervical and upper thoracic spinal manipulations were investigated. The purpose of this analysis was to compare the force-time parameters and electromyographic characteristics between two spinal manipulations delivered following one another in quick succession if the first thrust was not associated with an audible cavitation.
Methods: Nine asymptomatic and eighteen symptomatic participants received six Diversified-style spinal manipulations to the cervical and upper thoracic spines during data collected February 2018 to September 2019. Peak force, rate of force application and thrust duration were measured using a pressure pad. Bipolar surface electrodes were used to measure the electromyographic responses and reflex delay times in sixteen neck, back and limb outlet muscles bilaterally. Differences in force-time parameters and electromyographic data were analyzed between the first and second thrust.
Results: Fifty-two spinal manipulations were included in this analysis. Peak force was greater (p < 0.001) and rate of force application faster (p < 0.001) in the second thrust. Furthermore, peak electromyographic responses were higher following the second thrust in asymptomatic (p < 0.001) and symptomatic (p < 0.001) subjects. Also, electromyographic delays were shorter in the symptomatic compared to the asymptomatic participants for the second thrust (p = 0.039). There were no adverse patient events.
Conclusion: When a second manipulation was delivered because there was not audible cavitation during the first thrust, the second thrust was associated with greater treatment forces and faster thrust rates. Peak electromyographic responses were greater following the second thrust.
Author keywords: Spinal manipulation — Neck pain — Electromyography — Neck manipulation
Author affiliations: LMG, WH: Human Performance Laboratory, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; LMG, PJC: Chiropractor, Private Practice, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; WH: Biomechanics Laboratory, School of Sports, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil
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