A new study showed that combining chiropractic cervical and thoracic spinal adjustments led to significant improvements in 94% of patients with neck pain.
Chiropractors have a range of techniques at their fingertips, and research continues to investigate whether certain techniques are more effective than others for relieving neck pain.
Often patients with neck pain exhibit dysfunction not just within the cervical spine in the neck, but in the thoracic spine in the upper back. For this reason, some chiropractors apply thoracic spinal adjustments in addition to cervical spinal adjustments when treating patients with neck pain. Additionally, chiropractors may also chose to use non-thrust adjustments to provide the same benefits of thrust adjustments but with lower force.
Researchers from Long Island University sought to see whether the addition of thoracic thrust spinal adjustments added any noticeable treatment benefit. They studied of a group of 64 patients with neck pain who were randomly assigned to receive either one of two treatments: thoracic thrust manipulation plus non-thrust cervical manipulation (experimental group); or cervical spine non-thrust manipulation (control group). Both groups were given an at-home exercise program consisting of active range-of-motion exercises.
After one week of treatment, the experimental group receiving the combined treatment had substantially better results in terms of neck pain and disability compared to the control group. Nearly all of the patients in the experimental (94%) had a global rating change score of +4 or higher, compared to 35% of the control group.
The study suggests that a combination of thoracic spine thrust manipulation plus cervical spine non-thrust manipulation is superior to cervical spine non-thrust manipulation alone. The findings also add to earlier research demonstrating the benefits of spinal adjustments and exercise for relieving neck pain. In one recent study from The Annals of Internal Medicine, chiropractic plus exercise was more effective than pain medication in relieving symptoms for patients with neck pain.
Masaracchio M, et al. Short-term combined effects of thoracic spine thrust manipulation and cervical spine nonthrust manipulation in individuals with mechanical neck pain: a randomized clinical trial. The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy 2013 Mar;43(3):118-27. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2013.4221.