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J Chiropr Med. 2015 Mar;14(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2014.12.005. Epub 2015 Feb 7.

Effects of Upper and Lower Cervical Spinal Manipulative Therapy on Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Variability in Volunteers and Patients With Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled, Cross-Over, Preliminary Study.

Author information

1
Senior Lecturer, International Medical University, Chiropractic, School of Health Sciences, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
2
Associate Professor, International Medical University, Human Biology, School of Medicine, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
3
Professor, International Medical University, Chiropractic, School of Health Sciences, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The aims of this study were to examine autonomic nervous system responses by using heart rate variability analysis (HRV), hemodynamic parameters and numeric pain scale (NPS) when either upper (C1 and C2) or lower (C6 and C7) cervical segments were manipulated in volunteers, and whether such response would be altered in acute mechanical neck pain patients after spinal manipulative therapy (SMT).

METHODS:

A randomized controlled, cross-over, preliminary study was conducted on 10 asymptomatic normotensive volunteers and 10 normotensive patients complaining of acute neck pain. HRV, blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR), and NPS were recorded after upper cervical and lower cervical segments SMT in volunteer and patient groups.

RESULTS:

The standard deviation of average normal to normal R-R intervals (SDNN) increased (83.54 ± 22 vs. 105.41 ± 20; P = .02) after upper cervical SMT. The normalized unit of high frequency (nuHF), which shows parasympathetic activity, was predominant (40.18 ± 9 vs. 46.08 ± 14) after upper cervical SMT (P = .03) with a significant decrease (109 ± 10 vs. 98 ± 5) in systolic BP (P = .002). Low frequency to high frequency (LF/HF) ratio, which shows predominance of sympathetic activity increased (1.05 ± 0.7 vs. 1.51 ± 0.5; P = .02) after lower cervical SMT in the healthy volunteers group. However, there was an increase in SDNN (70.48 ± 18 vs. 90.23 ± 20; P = .02 and 75.19 ± 16 vs 97.52 ± 22; P = .01), a decrease in LF/HF ratio (1.33 ± 0.3 vs. 0.81 ± 0.2; P = .001 and 1.22 ± 0.4 vs. 0.86 ± 0.3; P = .02), which was associated with decreased systolic BP (105 ± 10 vs. 95 ± 9; P = .01 and 102 ± 9 vs. 91 ± 10; P = .02) and NPS scores (3 ± 1 vs. 0; P = .01 and 3 ± 1 vs. 1 ± 1; P = .03) following both upper and lower cervical SMT in the patient's group. The baseline HR was 67 ± 9 vs 64 ± 5 (upper cervical) and 65 ± 7 vs 69 ± 11 (lower cervical) in both the healthy volunteer' and patient' groups.

CONCLUSION:

Upper cervical SMT enhances dominance of parasympathetic and lower cervical SMT enhances dominance of sympathetic activity in this young volunteer group. However, dominance of parasympathetic activity was found in patients with neck pain that received both upper and lower cervical SMT.

KEYWORDS:

Blood pressure; Heart rate; Manipulation; Spinal

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