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J R Soc Med. 2006 Apr;99(4):192-6.

A systematic review of systematic reviews of spinal manipulation.

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  • 1Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter & Plymouth, 25 Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4NT, UK.



To systematically collate and evaluate the evidence from recent systematic reviews of clinical trials of spinal manipulation.


Literature searches were carried out in four electronic databases for all systematic reviews of the effectiveness of spinal manipulation in any indication, published between 2000 and May 2005. Reviews were defined as systematic if they included an explicit and repeatable inclusion and exclusion criteria for studies.


Sixteen papers were included relating to the following conditions: back pain (n=3), neck pain (n=2), lower back pain and neck pain (n=1), headache (n=3), non-spinal pain (n=1), primary and secondary dysmenorrhoea (n=1), infantile colic (n=1), asthma (n=1), allergy (n=1), cervicogenic dizziness (n=1), and any medical problem (n=1). The conclusions of these reviews were largely negative, except for back pain where spinal manipulation was considered superior to sham manipulation but not better than conventional treatments.


Collectively these data do not demonstrate that spinal manipulation is an effective intervention for any condition. Given the possibility of adverse effects, this review does not suggest that spinal manipulation is a recommendable treatment.

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