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J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2006 Mar;106(3):137-42.

Gross range of motion in the cervical spine: the effects of osteopathic muscle energy technique in asymptomatic subjects.

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Stanley Schiowitz Department of Manipulative Medicine, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, New York Institute of Technology, PO Box 8000, Old Westbury, NY 11568-8000, USA.


Muscle energy technique is an established osteopathic manipulative intervention often used to treat somatic dysfunctions of the spine. There are little objective data to demonstrate its efficacy, however. To determine the efficacy of this osteopathic manipulative technique, the authors compared active cervical range of motion among asymptomatic young and middle-aged adults (n=18) before and after this treatment protocol, comparing those results against matched control subjects (n=14) who received sham manipulative treatment. Range of motion was measured in three planes (flexion/extension, lateral bending, rotation) on all subjects (N=32) using a motion-analysis system. Multiplanar gross cervical motion restrictions were diagnosed in this asymptomatic population. In the treatment group, cervical long restrictor muscles were treated with the muscle energy technique in the sagittal, frontal, and horizontal planes. The control group had relative restrictions addressed by means of a sham manipulative treatment protocol in which the barriers to motion were not challenged therapeutically. The muscle energy technique produced a significant increase in overall regional cervical range of motion in the treatment group (approximately 4 degrees) when compared with control subjects (P<.001). Significant differences were also observed in the magnitude of change in the three planes of movement (rotation, P<.002; lateral bending, P<.01), with flexion/extension being the least affected (P=.2). These data demonstrate that the application of the muscle energy technique can produce acute increases in the active cervical range of motion in asymptomatic subjects.

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