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Electromyogr Clin Neurophysiol. 1995 Mar;35(2):87-94.

Sacroiliac joint manipulation decreases the H-reflex.

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Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand.


Joint manipulation is widely utilized clinically to decrease pain and increase the range of motion of joints displaying limited mobility. Evidence of efficacy is based on subjective reports of symptom improvement as well as on the results of clinical trials. Experiments were designed to determine whether or not sacroiliac joint manipulation affects the amplitude of the Hoffman (H) reflex. Surface EMG recordings of the reflex response to electrical stimulation of the tibial nerve in the popliteal fossa were made from the soleus muscle. The averaged amplitudes of H-reflexes were compared on both legs before and after either sacroiliac joint manipulation or a sham procedure. H-reflex amplitude was significantly decreased (12.9%) in the ipsilateral leg (p < 0.001) following a sacroiliac joint manipulation while there was no significant alteration following the sham intervention. There was no significant alteration in reflex excitability in the contralateral leg to the sacroiliac joint manipulation. To further investigate the mechanism of these reflex alterations, the local anaesthetic cream EMLA (Astra Pharmaceuticals) was applied to the skin overlying the sacroiliac joint and the experiments were repeated on a different group of subjects. This was intended to determine if excitation of cutaneous afferents was responsible for the reflex excitability changes. There was still a significant decrease in reflex excitability (10.6%) following sacroiliac joint manipulation (p < 0.001). These findings indicate that joint manipulation exerts physiological effects on the central nervous system, probably at the segmental level. The fact that the changes persisted in the presence of cutaneous anaesthesia suggests that the reflex changes are likely to be mediated by joint and/or muscle afferents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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