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J Man Manip Ther. 2008;16(2):93-9.

The immediate effects of upper thoracic translatoric spinal manipulation on cervical pain and range of motion: a randomized clinical trial.

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Associate Professor, Program in Physical Therapy, School of Health Sciences, Oakland University, Rochester, MI.


This study examined the effect of translatoric spinal manipulation (TSM) on cervical pain and cervical active motion restriction when applied to upper thoracic (T1-T4) segments. Active cervical rotation range of motion was measured re- and post-intervention with a cervical inclinometer (CROM), and cervical pain status was monitored before and after manipulation with a Faces Pain Scale. Study participants included a sample of convenience that included 32 patients referred to physical therapy with complaints of pain in the mid-cervical region and restricted active cervical rotation. Twenty-two patients were randomly assigned to the experimental group and ten were assigned to the control group. Pre- and post-intervention cervical range of motion and pain scale measurements were taken by a physical therapist assistant who was blinded to group assignment. The experimental group received TSM to hypomobile upper thoracic segments. The control group received no intervention. Paired t-tests were used to analyze within-group changes in cervical rotation and pain, and a 2-way repeated-measure ANOVA was used to analyze between-group differences in cervical rotation and pain. Significance was accepted at p = 0.05. Significant changes that exceeded the MDC(95) were detected for cervical rotation both within group and between groups with the TSM group demonstrating increased mean (SD) in right rotation of 8.23 degrees (7.41 degrees ) and left rotation of 7.09 degrees (5.83 degrees ). Pain levels perceived during post-intervention cervical rotation showed significant improvement during right rotation for patients experiencing pain during bilateral rotation only (p=.05). This study supports the hypothesis that spinal manipulation applied to the upper thoracic spine (T1-T4 motion segments) significantly increases cervical rotation ROM and may reduce cervical pain at end range rotation for patients experiencing pain during bilateral cervical rotation.


Manipulation; Pain; Range of Motion; Thoracic Spine; Translatoric Spinal Manipulation

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