The Journal of Sports and Orthopaedic Physical Therapy recently published an article regarding spinal manipulations and neck pain. First off what is a spinal manipulation? A manipulation is the same as an adjustment in which a high velocity and low amplitude force is applied to the spine often resulting in an audible “pop”. The article found that manipulations directed toward the mid back are very effective in reducing neck pain. In fact the patients who received a upper back manipulation had less pain, improved motion and had better function. What’s even better is that the improvements lasted for up to 6 months after a 3 week program.
The exciting thing to me is that a thoracic (mid or upper back) manipulation is very easy to perform and patients tolerate very well. Often patients are fearful about getting their neck adjusted. So, a thoracic manipulation offers a great and non-invasive alternative. This is a great treatment for acute neck pain after an accident or chronic neck pain. Additionally, thoracic manipulations are helpful with mid back pain, shortness of breath, or rib pain. My experience in the clinic is that patients often experience immediate relieve from a manipulation. These improvements can last for extended periods.
One misconception is that only chiropractors are able to do manipulations. Physical therapist often receive education about spinal manipulation techniques as well as indications for when to perform manipulations. In fact, the state of Oregon has ruled that it is legal for PT’s to perform manipulations. Not all of our patients receive manipulations. However, when it is indicated we will perform manipulations and our patients love it.
If you are experiencing neck or upper back pain physical therapy is a great way to decrease your pain. Spinal manipulations are a great tool to manage your pain. If you are interested in decreasing your spine pain contact us at Siskiyou Physical Therapy.
Jon Hill, DPT Siskiyou Physical Therapy