spinal manipulation

There is widespread agreement amongst clinicians that people with non-specific low back pain (NSLBP) comprise a heterogeneous group and that their management should be individually tailored. One treatment known by its tailored design is the McKenzie method (e.g. an individualized program of exercises based on clinical clues observed during assessment) used mostly but not exclusively by physiotherapists.

A recent Cochrane review evaluated the effectiveness of the McKenzie method in people with (sub)acute non-specific low back pain. Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) investigating the effectiveness of the McKenzie method in adults with (sub)acute (less than 12 weeks) NSLBP.

Five RCTs were included with a total of 563 participants recruited from primary or tertiary care. Three trials were conducted in the USA, one in Australia, and one in Scotland. Three trials received financial support from non-commercial funders and two did not provide information on funding sources. All trials were at high risk of performance and detection bias. None of the included trials measured adverse events.

McKenzie method versus minimal intervention (educational booklet; McKenzie method as a supplement to other intervention – main comparison) There is low-certainty evidence that the McKenzie method may result in a slight reduction in pain in the short term (MD -7.3, 95% CI -12.0 to -2.56; 2 trials, 377 participants) but not in the intermediate term (MD -5.0, 95% CI -14.3 to 4.3; 1 trial, 180 participants). There is low-certainty evidence that the McKenzie method may not reduce disability in the short term (MD -2.5, 95% CI -7.5 to 2.0; 2 trials, 328 participants) nor in the intermediate term (MD -0.9, 95% CI -7.3 to 5.6; 1 trial, 180 participants).

McKenzie method versus manual therapy There is low-certainty evidence that the McKenzie method may not reduce pain in the short term (MD -8.7, 95% CI -27.4 to 10.0; 3 trials, 298 participants) and may result in a slight increase in pain in the intermediate term (MD 7.0, 95% CI 0.7 to 13.3; 1 trial, 235 participants). There is low-certainty evidence that the McKenzie method may not reduce disability in the short term (MD -5.0, 95% CI -15.0 to 5.0; 3 trials, 298 participants) nor in the intermediate term (MD 4.3, 95% CI -0.7 to 9.3; 1 trial, 235 participants).

McKenzie method versus other interventions (massage and advice) There is very low-certainty evidence that the McKenzie method may not reduce disability in the short term (MD 4.0, 95% CI -15.4 to 23.4; 1 trial, 30 participants) nor in the intermediate term (MD 10.0, 95% CI -8.9 to 28.9; 1 trial, 30 participants).

The authors concluded that, based on low- to very low-certainty evidence, the treatment effects for pain and disability found in our review were not clinically important. Thus, we can conclude that the McKenzie method is not an effective treatment for (sub)acute NSLBP.

 The hallmark of the McKenzie method for back pain involves the identification and classification of nonspecific spinal pain into homogenous subgroups. These subgroups are based on the similar responses of a patient’s symptoms when subjected to mechanical forces. The subgroups include postural syndrome, dysfunction syndrome, derangement syndrome, or “other,” with treatment plans directed to each subgroup. The McKenzie method emphasizes the centralization phenomenon in the assessment and treatment of spinal pain, in which pain originating from the spine refers distally, and through targeted repetitive movements the pain migrates back toward the spine. The clinician will then use the information obtained from this assessment to prescribe specific exercises and advise on which postures to adopt or avoid. Through an individualized treatment program, the patient will perform specific exercises at home approximately ten times per day, as opposed to 1 or 2 physical therapy visits per week. According to the McKenzie method, if there is no restoration of normal function, tissue healing will not occur, and the problem will persist.


The postural syndrome is pain caused by mechanical deformation of soft tissue or vasculature arising from prolonged postural stresses. These may affect the joint surfaces, muscles, or tendons, and can occur in sitting, standing, or lying. Pain may be reproducible when such individuals maintain positions or postures for sustained periods. Repeated movements should not affect symptoms, and relief of pain typically occurs immediately following the correction of abnormal posture.

The dysfunction syndrome is pain caused by the mechanical deformation of structurally impaired soft tissue; this may be due to traumatic, inflammatory, or degenerative processes, causing tissue contraction, scarring, adhesion, or adaptive shortening. The hallmark is a loss of movement and pain at the end range of motion. Dysfunction has subsyndromes based upon the end-range direction that elicits this pain: flexion, extension, side-glide, multidirectional, adherent nerve root, and nerve root entrapment subsyndromes. Successful treatment focuses on patient education and mobilization exercises that focus on the direction of the dysfunction/direction of pain. The goal is on tissue remodeling which can be a prolonged process.

The derangement syndrome is the most commonly encountered pain syndrome, reported in one study to have a prevalence as high as 78% of patients classified by the McKenzie method. It is caused by an internal dislocation of articular tissue, causing a disturbance in the normal position of affected joint surfaces, deforming the capsule, and periarticular supportive ligaments. This derangement will both generate pain and obstruct movement in the direction of the displacement. There are seven different subsyndromes which are classified by the location of pain and the presence, or absence, of deformities. Pain is typically elicited by provocative assessment movements, such as flexion or extension of the spine. The centralization and peripheralization of symptoms can only occur in the derangement syndrome. Thus the treatment for derangement syndrome focuses on repeated movement in a single direction that causes a gradual reduction in pain. Studies have shown approximately anywhere between 58% to 91% prevalence of centralization of lower back pain. Studies have also shown that between 67% to 85% of centralizers displayed the directional preference for a spinal extension. This preference may partially explain why the McKenzie method has become synonymous with spinal extension exercises. However, care must be taken to accurately diagnose the direction of pain, as one randomized controlled study has shown that giving the ‘wrong’ direction of exercises can actually lead to poorer outcomes.

Other or Nonmechanical syndrome refers to any symptom that does not fit in with the other mechanical syndromes, but exhibits signs and symptoms of other known pathology; Some of these examples include spinal stenosis, sacroiliac disorders, hip disorders, zygapophyseal disorders, post-surgical complications, low back pain secondary to pregnancy, spondylolysis, and spondylolisthesis.


“Internationally researched” and found to be ineffective!

This study allegedly evaluated the efficacy of osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT) compared to that of the Kaltenborn-Evjenth Orthopedic Manipulative Therapy (KEOMT) for patients with chronic LBP.

It included 68 participants of both genders, aged 30 to 60, with chronic LBP. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two parallel groups, each with 34 members. The OMT group received, as a direct technique, a high-velocity/low-amplitude (HVLA) impulse, and as indirect techniques, strain counterstrain (SCS), myofascial release (MFR), and visceral mobilization therapy (VMT). The KEOMT group received lumbar segmental traction and lumbar segmental mobilization-flexion and gliding therapy grade 3. The participants in both groups received 10 treatments, two per week for five weeks. The primary outcome was pain severity, using a numeric pain rating scale (NPRS). The secondary outcome was the measurement of functional disability, using the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI).

The OMT and KEOMT both decreased pain and disability; however, the changes on the NPRS and ODI postintervention were statistically greater for the OMT group compared to the KEOMT group (P < .05).

The authors concluded that the OMT was better at reducing pain and improving quality of life. It reduced functional disability more than KEOMT in patients with chronic LBP.

The Kaltenborn-Evjenth Orthopedic Manipulative Therapy (KEOMT) concept is a treatment and training system based upon a comprehensive biomechanical evaluation of the arthro-neuro-muscular system and an individual’s functional abilities. This system of diagnosis and patient management applies to both patients with acute, subacute and chronic conditions of the spine and extremities and to athletes seeking to improve performance. It offers a reliable and practical approach that focuses on optimal physical health and function.

Has the KEOMT concept been tested and shown to be effective for LBP?


So, what we have here is an equivalence trial of two manual techniques. As such it is FAR too small to yield a meaningful result. If the findings were meaningful, would they show that OMT is effective?


As we have no proof that KEOMT does not impede recovery from LBP, the result could merely be due to the fact that OMT does not influence the natural history of LBP, while KEOMT has a detrimental effect.

Last question: which journal publishes such rubbish?

Ahh, it’s the remarkable Alternative therapies in health and medicine. That explains a lot!


Lumbosacral Radicular Syndrome (LSRS) is a condition characterized by pain radiating in one or more dermatomes (Radicular Pain) and/or the presence of neurological impairments (Radiculopathy). So far, different reviews have investigated the effect of HVLA (high-velocity low-amplitude) spinal manipulations in LSRS. However, these studies included ‘mixed’ population samples (LBP patients with or without LSRS) and treatments other than HVLA spinal manipulations (e.g., mobilisation, soft tissue treatment, etc.). Hence, the efficacy of HVLAT in LSRS is yet to be fully understood.

This review investigated the effect and safety of HVLATs on pain, levels of disability, and health-related quality of life in LSRS, as well as any possible adverse events.

Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) published in English in the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE (PubMed), EMBASE, PEDro, and Web of Science were identified. RCTs on an adult population (18-65 years) with LSRS that compared HVLATs with other non-surgical treatments, sham spinal manipulation, or no intervention were considered. Two authors selected the studies, extracted the data, and assessed the methodological quality through the ‘Risk of Bias (RoB) Tool 2.0’ and the certainty of the evidence through the ‘GRADE tool’. A meta-analysis was performed to quantify the effect of HVLA on pain levels.

A total of 308 records were retrieved from the search strings. Only two studies met the inclusion criteria. Both studies were at high RoB. Two meta-analyses were performed for low back and leg pain levels. HVLA seemed to reduce the levels of low back (MD = -1.48; 95% CI = -2.45, -0.50) and lower limb (MD = -2.36; 95% CI = -3.28, -1.44) pain compared to other conservative treatments, at three months after treatment. However, high heterogeneity was found (I² = 0.0%, p = 0.735). Besides, their certainty of the evidence was ‘very low’. No adverse events were reported.

The authors stated that they cannot conclude whether HVLA spinal manipulations can be helpful for the treatment of LSRS or not. Future high-quality RCTs are needed to establish the actual effect of HVLA manipulation in this disease with adequate sample size and LSRS definition.

Chiropractors earn their living by applying HVLA thrusts to patients suffering from LSRS. One would therefore have assumed that the question of efficacy has been extensively researched and conclusively answered. It seems that one would have assumed wrongly!

Now that this is (yet again) in the open, I wonder whether chiropractors will, in the future, tell their patients while obtaining informed consent: “I plan to give you a treatment for which sound evidence is not available; it can also cause harm; and, of course, it will cost you – I hope you don’t mind.”

An explanatory sequential mixed methods study with three separate phases was conducted in Danish patients with lumbar radiculopathy receiving a standardized chiropractic care package (SCCP). Lumbar radiculopathy is pain and other neurological symptoms caused by the pinching of nerve roots where they leave your spinal cord in the lumbar region.

Phase one of the study was a quantitative analysis based on a survey in a prospective cohort of patients with lumbar radiculopathy in an SCCP from 2018 to 2020. Patients rated their satisfaction with the examination, information, treatment effect, and overall management of their problem on a 0–10 scale. In phase two, six semi-structured interviews conducted in 2021 were used to gain further explanatory insights into the findings from phase one. Data were analyzed using systematic text condensation. In phase three, the quantitative and qualitative data were merged in a narrative joint display to obtain a deeper understanding of the overall results.

Here I am only interested in the patients’ perception of the treatment effect. Of 303 eligible patients, 238 responded to the survey. Of these, 50% were very satisfied with the treatment effect.

The authors stated that patients in their study expected a rapid and persistent decrease in symptoms, which, unfortunately, does not match the prognosis of lumbar radiculopathy. Although the prognosis is considered good, the improvement happens gradually and often with fluctuating pain patterns, and it is not unusual to have milder symptoms for three months or longer.

So, only half of the patients who had chosen to consult chiropractors for their lumbar radiculopathy were very satisfied with the treatment results. In most patients, the symptoms decreased only gradually often with fluctuating pain patterns, and the authors comment that symptoms frequently last for three months or longer with a SCCP.


Might I point out that what is being described here looks to me very much like the natural history of lumbar radiculopathy? About 90% of patients with back pain caused by disc herniation see improvements within three months without therapy. Are the authors aware that their observational study is in accordance with the notion that the SCCP does nothing or very little to help patients suffering from lumbar radiculopathy?

Infant colic is a sensitive subject for chiropractors in the UK. In case you forgot, here is why. Consequently, the subject has featured regularly on this blog – and now there is new evidence:

A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted on infantile colic studies that used SO-CALLED alternative medicine (SCAM) techniques as interventions. The outcome measures were hours spent crying and/or sleeping. The authors used the PubMed, Physiotherapy Evidence Database, Cochrane Library, Embase, Web of Science, Scopus, Osteopathic Medicine Digital Database, and Google Scholar databases from inception to 11 November 2022.

The methodological quality of the randomized control trials ranged from fair to high. The authors focused on five studies with 422 babies using the following interventions: cranial, visceral, or structural osteopathy or chiropractic manipulation or mobilization. These treatments failed to decrease the crying time (mean difference -1.08, 95% CI -2.17 to 0.01, I2 = 92%) and to increase the sleeping time (mean difference 1.11, 95% CI -0.20 to 2.41; I2: 91%), compared with no intervention. The quality of the evidence was rated as very low for both outcome measures.The authors concluded that osteopathy and chiropractic treatment failed to reduce the crying time and increase sleeping time in babies with infantile colic, compared to no additional intervention.The 5 included studies were the following:

  • Miller JE, Newell D, Bolton JE. Efficacy of chiropractic manual therapy on infant colic: A pragmatic single-blind, randomized controlled trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2012;35(8):600–7.
  • Castejón-Castejón M, Murcia-González MA, Todri J, Lena O, Chillón-Martínez R. Treatment of infant colic with craniosacral therapy. A randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2022;71(February 2021).
  • Olafsdottir E, Forshei S, Fluge G, Markestad T. Randomised controlled trial of infantile colic treated with chiropractic spinal manipulation. Arch Dis Child. 2001;84(2):138–41.
  • Holm LV, Jarbøl DE, Christensen HW, Søndergaard J, Hestbæk L. The effect of chiropractic care on infantile colic: results from a single-blind randomised controlled trial. Chiropr Man Ther. 2021;29(1):1–11.
  • Hayden C, Mullinger B. A preliminary assessment of the impact of cranial osteopathy for the relief of infantile colic. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2006;12(2):83–90.

This means that, in recent years, several new studies have emerged. I find this surprising: there is no plausible mechanism of action and the previous reviews were negative.

Why flog a dead horse?

But – come to think of it – this is a question one might ask about most of the research into cranial, visceral, or structural osteopathy or chiropractic manipulation or mobilization.

Low back pain is the leading cause of years lived with disability globally, but most interventions have only short-lasting, small to moderate effects. Cognitive functional therapy (CFT) is an individualized approach that targets unhelpful pain-related cognitions, emotions, and behaviors that contribute to pain and disability. Movement sensor biofeedback might enhance treatment effects.

This study aimed to compare the effectiveness and economic efficiency of CFT, delivered with or without movement sensor biofeedback, with usual care for patients with chronic, disabling low back pain.

RESTORE was a randomized, three-arm, parallel-group, phase 3 trial, done in 20 primary care physiotherapy clinics in Australia. The researchers recruited adults (aged ≥18 years) with low back pain lasting more than 3 months with at least moderate pain-related physical activity limitation. Exclusion criteria were serious spinal pathology (eg, fracture, infection, or cancer), any medical condition that prevented being physically active, being pregnant or having given birth within the previous 3 months, inadequate English literacy for the study’s questionnaires and instructions, a skin allergy to hypoallergenic tape adhesives, surgery scheduled within 3 months, or an unwillingness to travel to trial sites. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1:1) via a centralized adaptive schedule to

  • usual care,
  • CFT only,
  • CFT plus biofeedback.

The primary clinical outcome was activity limitation at 13 weeks, self-reported by participants using the 24-point Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire. The primary economic outcome was quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs). Participants in both interventions received up to seven treatment sessions over 12 weeks plus a booster session at 26 weeks. Physiotherapists and patients were not masked.

Between Oct 23, 2018, and Aug 3, 2020, the researchers assessed 1011 patients for eligibility. After excluding 519 (51·3%) ineligible patients, they randomly assigned 492 (48·7%) participants; 164 (33%) to CFT only, 163 (33%) to CFT plus biofeedback, and 165 (34%) to usual care. Both interventions were more effective than usual care (CFT only mean difference –4·6 [95% CI –5·9 to –3·4] and CFT plus biofeedback mean difference –4·6 [–5·8 to –3·3]) for activity limitation at 13 weeks (primary endpoint). Effect sizes were similar at 52 weeks. Both interventions were also more effective than usual care for QALYs, and much less costly in terms of societal costs (direct and indirect costs and productivity losses; –AU$5276 [–10 529 to –24) and –8211 (–12 923 to –3500).

The authors concluded that CFT can produce large and sustained improvements for people with chronic disabling low back pain at considerably lower societal cost than that of usual care.

This is a well-designed and well-reported study. It shows that CFT is better than usual care. The effect sizes are not huge and seem similar to many other treatments for chronic LBP, including the numerous so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) options that are available.

Faced with a situation where we have virtually dozens of therapies of similar effectiveness, what should we recommend to patients? I think this question is best and most ethically answered by accounting for two other important determinants of usefulness:

  1. risk
  2. cost.

CFT is both low in risk and cost. So is therapeutic exercise. We would therefore need a direct comparison of the two to decide which is the optimal approach.

Until we have such a study, patients might just opt for one or both of them. What seems clear, meanwhile, is this: SCAM does not offer the best solution to chronic LBP. In particular, chiropractic, osteopathy, or acupuncture – which are neither low-cost nor risk-free – are, contrary to what some try so very hard to convince us of, sensible options.

I came across an article entitled “Consent for Paediatric Chiropractic Treatment (Ages 0-16)“. Naturally, it interested me. Here is the full paper; I have only inserted a few numbers in square brackets which refer to my comments below:

By law, all Chiropractors are required to inform you of the risks and benefits of chiropractic spinal manipulation and the other types of care we provide. Chiropractors use manual therapy alongside taking a thorough history, and doing a neurological, orthopaedic and chiropractic examination to both diagnose and to treat spinal, cranial and extremity dysfunction.  This may include taking joints to the end range of function, palpating soft tissues (including inside the mouth and the abdomen), mobilisation, soft tissue therapy and very gentle manipulation [1]. Our Chiropractors have been educated to perform highly specific types of bony or soft tissue manipulation and we strive to follow a system of evidence-based care [2].  At the core of our belief system is “Do No Harm”. We recognise that infants and children are not tiny adults.  The force of an adjustment used in a child is at least less than half of what we might use with a fully grown adult.  Studies by Hawk et al (2016) and Marchand (2013) agreed that Chiropractors use 15 – 35 x less force in the under 3-month age group when compared to medical practitioners doing manipulation (Koch, 2002) [3].  We also use less force in all other paediatrics groups, especially when compared to adults (Marchand, 2013). In addition to using lower force, depth, amplitude and speed in our chiropractic adjustments [4], we utilise different techniques. We expect all children under the age of 16 years to be accompanied by a responsible adult during appointments unless prior permission to treat without a consenting adult e.g., over the age of 14 has been discussed with the treating chiropractor.


  • Research into chiropractic care for children in the past 70 years has shown it to have a low risk of adverse effects (Miller, 2019) [5]. These effects tend to be mild and of short duration e.g., muscular or ligament irritation. Vorhra et al (2007) found the risk of severe of adverse effects (e.g. fracture, quadriplegia, paraplegia, and death) is very, very rare and was more likely to occur in individuals where there is already serious underlying pathology and missed diagnosis by other medical profession [6].  These particular cases occurred more than 25 years ago and is practically unheard of now since research and evidence-based care has become the norm [7].
  • The most common side effect in infants following chiropractic treatment includes fussiness or irritability for the first 24 hours, and sleeping longer than usual or more soundly. (Miller and Benfield, 2008) [8]
  • In older children, especially if presenting with pain e.g., in the neck or lower back, the greatest risk is that this pain may increase during examination due to increasing the length of involved muscles or ligaments [9]. Similarly, the child may also experience pain, stiffness or irritability after treatment (Miller & Benfield, 2008) [10].  Occasionally children may experience a headache.[11] We find that children experience side effects much less often than adults.[12]


  • Your child might get better with chiropractic care. [13] If they don’t, we will refer you on [14].
  • Low risk of side effects and very rare risk of serious adverse effects [15].
  • Drug-free health care. We are not against medication, but we do not prescribe [16].
  • Compared with a medical practitioner, manual therapy carried out by a chiropractor is 20 x less likely to result in injury (Koch et al 2002, Miller 2009).[17]
  • Children do not often require long courses of treatment (>3 weeks) unless complicating factors are present.[18]
  • Studies have shown that parents have a high satisfaction rate with Chiropractic care [19].
  • Physical therapies are much less likely to interfere with biomedical treatments. (McCann & Newell 2006) [20]
  • You will have a better understanding of diagnosis of any complain and we will let you know what you can do to help.[21]

We invite you to have open discussions and communication with your treating chiropractor at all times.  Should you need any further clarification please just ask.


  • Hawk, C. Shneider, M.J., Vallone, S and Hewitt, E.G. (2016) – Best practises recommendations for chiropractic care of children: A consensus update. JMPT, 39 (3), 158-168.
  • Marchand, A. (2013) – A Proposed model with possible implications for safety and technique adaptations for chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for infants and children.   JMPT, 5, 1-14
  • Koch L. E., Koch, H, Graumann-Brunnt, S. Stolle, D. Ramirez, J.M., & Saternus, K.S. (2002) – Heart rate changes in response to mild mechanical irritation of the high cervical cord region in infants. Forensic Science International, 128, 168-176
  • Miller J (2019) – Evidence-Based Chiropractic Care for Infants: Rational, Therapies and Outcomes. Chapter 11: Safety of Chiropractic care for Infants p111. Praeclarus Press
  • Vohra, S. Johnston, B.C. Cramer, K, Humphreys, K. (2007) – Adverse events associated with paediatric spinal manipulation: A Systematic Review. Pediatrics, 119 (1) e275-283
  • Miller, J and Benfield (2008) – Adverse effects of spinal manipulative therapy in children younger than 3 years: a retrospective study in a chiropractic teaching clinic. JMPT Jul-Aug;31(6):419-23.
  • McCann, L.J. & Newell, S.J. (2006). Survey of paediatric complementary and alternative medicine in health and chronic disease. Archives of Diseases of Childhood, 91, 173-174
  • Corso, M.,  Cancelliere, C. ,  Mior., Taylor-Vaise, A.   Côté, P. (2020) – The safety of spinal manipulative therapy in children under 10 years: a rapid review. Chiropractic Manual therapy 25: 12


  1.  “taking joints to the end range of function” (range of motion, more likely) is arguably not “very gently”;
  2.  “we strive to follow a system of evidence-based care”; I do not think that this is possible because pediatric chiropractic care is hardy evidence-based;
  3.  as a generalizable statement, this seems to be not true;
  4.  ” lower force, depth, amplitude and speed”; I am not sure that there is good evidence for that;
  5.  research has foremost shown that there might be significant under-reporting;
  6.  to blame the medical profession for diagnoses missed by chiropractors seems odd;
  7.  possibly because of under-reporting;
  8.  possibly because of under-reporting;
  9.  possibly because of under-reporting;
  10.  possibly because of under-reporting;
  11.  possibly because of under-reporting;
  12.  your impressions are not evidence;
  13. your child might get even better without chiropractic care;
  14. referral rates of chiropractors tend to be low;
  15. possibly because of under-reporting;
  16. chiropractors have no prescription rights but some lobby hard for it;
  17. irrelevant if we consider the intervention useless and thus obsolete;
  18. any evidence for this statement?;
  19. satisfaction rates are no substitute for real evidence;
  20. that does not mean they are effective, safe, or value for money;
  21. this is perhaps the strangest statement of them all – do chiropractors think they are the optimal diagnosticians for all complaints?


According to its title, the paper was supposed to deal with consent for chiropractic pediatric care. It almost totally avoided the subject and certainly did not list the information chiropractors must give to parents before commencing treatment.

Considering the arguments that the article did provide has brought me to the conclusion that chiropractors who treat children are out of touch with reality and seem in danger of committing child abuse.

This meta-analysis aimed “to provide better evidence of the efficacy of manual therapy (MT) on adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS)”.

All RCTs of MT for the management of patients with AIS were included in the present study. The treatment difference between the experimental and control group was mainly MT. The outcomes consisted of the total effective rate, the Cobb angle, and Scoliosis Research Society-22 (SRS-22) questionnaire score. Electronic database searches were conducted from database inception to July 2022, including the Cochrane Library, PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, Wanfang Data, CNKI, and VIP. The pooled data were analyzed using RevMan 5.4 software.

Four RCTs with 213 patients in the experimental groups were finally included. There are 2 studies of standalone MT in the experimental group and 3 studies of MT with identical conservative treatments in the control group. Three trials reported the total effective rate and a statistically significant difference was found (P = 0.004). Three trials reported Cobb angle; a statistical difference was found (P = 0.01). Then, sensitivity analysis showed that there was a significant difference in the additional MT subgroup (P < 0.00001) while not in the standalone MT subgroup (P = 0.41). Three trials reported SRS-22 scores (P = 0.55) without significant differences.

The authors concluded that there is insufficient data to determine the effectiveness of spinal manipulation limited by the very low quality of included studies. High-quality studies with appropriate design and follow-up periods are warranted to determine if MT may be beneficial as an adjunct therapy for AIS. Currently, there is no evidence to support spinal manipulation.

The treatment of idiopathic scoliosis depends on the age, curve size, and progression of the condition. Therapeutic options include observation, bracing, physiotherapy, and surgery. They do NOT include MT because it is neither a plausible nor effective solution to this problem. It follows that further studies are not warranted and should be discouraged.

And, even if you disagree with me here and feel that further studies might be justified, let me remind you that proper research is never aimed at providing better evidence that a therapy works (as the authors of this odd paper seem to think); it must be aimed at testing whether it is effective!

This single-blind, randomized, clinical trial was aimed at determining the long-term clinical effects of spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) or mobilization (MOB) as an adjunct to neurodynamic mobilization (NM) in the management of individuals with Lumbar Disc Herniation with Radiculopathy (DHR).

Forty participants diagnosed as having a chronic DHR (≥3 months) were randomly allocated into two groups with 20 participants each in the SMT and MOB groups.

Participants in the SMT group received high-velocity, low-amplitude manipulation, while those in the MOB group received Mulligans’ spinal mobilization with leg movement. Each treatment group also received NM as a co-intervention, administered immediately after the SMT and MOB treatment sessions. Each group received treatment twice a week for 12 weeks.

The following outcomes were measured at baseline, 6, 12, 26, and 52 weeks post-randomization; back pain, leg pain, activity limitation, sciatica bothersomeness, sciatica frequency, functional mobility, quality of life, and global effect. The primary outcomes were pain and activity limitation at 12 weeks post-randomization.

The results indicate that the MOB group improved significantly better than the SMT group in all outcomes (p < 0.05), and at all timelines (6, 12, 26, and 52 weeks post-randomization), except for sensory deficit at 52 weeks, and reflex and motor deficits at 12 and 52 weeks. These improvements were also clinically meaningful for neurodynamic testing and sensory deficits at 12 weeks, back pain intensity at 6 weeks, and for activity limitation, functional mobility, and quality of life outcomes at 6, 12, 26, and 52 weeks of follow-ups. The risk of being improved at 12 weeks post-randomization was 40% lower (RR = 0.6, CI = 0.4 to 0.9, p = 0.007) in the SMT group compared to the MOB group.

The authors concluded that this study found that individuals with DHR demonstrated better improvements when treated with MOB plus NM than when treated with SMT plus NM. These improvements were also clinically meaningful for activity limitation, functional mobility, and quality of life outcomes at long-term follow-up.

Yet again, I find it hard to resist playing the devil’s advocate: had the researchers added a third group with sham-MOB, they would have perhaps found that this group would have recovered even faster. In other words, this study might show that SMT is no good for DHR (which I find unsurprising), but it does NOT demonstrate MOB to be an effective therapy.

On this blog, we are often told that only a few chiros still believe in Palmer’s gospel of subluxation. This 2023 article seems to tell a different story.

The authors claim that the term demonstrates the widespread use and acceptance of the term subluxation and
acknowledges the broader chiropractic interpretation by recognition and adoption of the term outside the profession. In particular, it emphasizes the medical recognition supported by some of the medical evidence incorporating the
construct of a chiropractic vertebral subluxation complex and its utilization in practice.

The vertebral subluxation concept is similar to the terms spinal dysfunction, somatic dysfunction, segmental dysfunction or the vague vertebral lesion. These terms are primarily used by osteopaths, physiotherapists, and medical doctors to focus their manipulative techniques, but they relate primarily to the physical-mechanical aspects. In this respect, these terms are limited in what they signify. The implication of just plain osseous biomechanical dysfunction does not incorporate the wider ramifications of integrated neural, vascular, and internal associations which may involve greater ramifications, and should be more appropriately referred to as a vertebral subluxation complex (VSC).

The authors also claim that, in recognition of acceptance of the subluxation terminology, a 2015 study in North America found that a majority of the 7,455 chiropractic students surveyed agreed or strongly agreed (61.4%) that
the emphasis of chiropractic intervention in practice is to eliminate vertebral subluxations/vertebral subluxation complexes. A further 15.2% neutral, and only 23.3% disagreeing. It is suggested that ‘modulation’ of vertebral subluxations may have attracted an even higher rate of agreement.

The authors conclude that the evidence indicates that medicine, osteopathy, and physiotherapy have all
used the term ‘subluxation’ in the chiropractic sense. However, the more appropriate, and inclusive descriptive term of vertebral subluxation complex is widely adopted in chiropractic and the WHO ICD-10. It would be most incongruous for chiropractic to move away from using subluxation when it is so well established.

A move to deny clarity to the essence of chiropractic may well affect the public image of the profession. As Hart states ‘Identifying the chiropractic profession with a focus on vertebral subluxation would give the profession uniqueness not duplicated by other health care professions and, therefore, might legitimatise the existence of chiropractic as a health care profession. An identity having a focus on vertebral subluxation would also be consistent with the original intent of the founding of the chiropractic profession.’

The term ‘vertebral subluxation’ has been in general use and understanding in the chiropractic profession as is ‘chiropractic subluxation’ and ‘vertebral subluxation complex’ (VSC). It is a part of the profession’s heritage. Critics of concepts regarding subluxation offer no original evidence to support their case, and that appears to be just political opinion rather than providing evidence to substantiate their stand.

The evidence presented in this paper supports the contention that there would be no vertebrogenic symptoms associated with physiologically normal vertebral segments. The term designated by chiropractors to identify abnormal or pathophysiological segmental dysfunction is the vertebral subluxation. It has been a part of chiropractic heritage for over 120 years.


Vis a vis such a diatribe of compact BS, I am tempted to point out that “critics of concepts regarding subluxation offer no original evidence to support their case” mainly because it is not they who have to produce the evidence. It is the chiropractic profession that needs to do that.

But they are evidently unable to do it.


Because chiropractic subluxation is a myth and an invention by their chief charlatan.

It is true that this fabrication is intimately linked to the identity of chiropractic.

It is furthermore true that chiros feel unable to throw it overboard because they would lose their identity.

What follows is simple:

Chiropractic is a fraud.





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