Thoracic Spine Manipulation for Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Dec;42(12):1005-16. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2012.4142. Epub 2012 Aug 17.

The effects of thoracic spine manipulation in subjects with signs of rotator cuff tendinopathy.
Muth S, Barbe MF, Lauer R, McClure PW.

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 40 East Laurel Road, UEC Suite 2105, Stratford, NJ 08084, USA. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Controlled laboratory study.

To assess scapular kinematics and electromyographic signal amplitude of the shoulder musculature, before and after thoracic spine manipulation (TSM) in subjects with rotator cuff tendinopathy (RCT). Changes in range of motion, pain, and function were also assessed.

There are various treatment techniques for RCT. Recent studies suggest that TSM may be a useful component in the management of pain and dysfunction associated with RCT.

Thirty subjects between 18 and 45 years of age, who showed signs of RCT, participated in this study. Changes in scapular kinematics and muscle activity, as well as changes in shoulder pain and function, were assessed pre-TSM and post-TSM using paired t tests and repeated-measures analyses of variance.

TSM did not lead to changes in range of motion or scapular kinematics, with the exception of a small decrease in scapular upward rotation (P = .05). The only change in muscle activity was a small but significant increase in middle trapezius activity (P = .03). After TSM, subjects demonstrated decreased pain during performance of the Jobe empty-can (mean ± SD change, 2.6 ± 1.1), Neer (2.6 ± 1.3), and Hawkins-Kennedy (2.8 ± 1.3) tests (all, P<.001). Subjects also reported decreased pain with shoulder flexion (mean ± SD change, 2.0 ± 1.5; P<.001) and improved shoulder function (force production, 2.5 ± 1.4 kg; Penn Shoulder Score, 7.7 ± 9.4; sports/performing arts module of the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire, 16.4 ± 13.2) (all, P<.001).

Immediate improvements in shoulder pain and function post-TSM are not likely explained by alterations in scapular kinematics or shoulder muscle activity. For people with pain associated with RCT, TSM may be an effective component of their treatment plan to improve pain and function. However, further randomized controlled studies are necessary to better validate this treatment approach.

Spinal Manipulation and Lumbar Discs

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2014 Mar 10 pii: S0161-4754(14)00034-7 doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2013.12.011.

Outcomes of Acute and Chronic Patients With Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Confirmed Symptomatic Lumbar Disc Herniations Receiving High-Velocity, Low-Amplitude, Spinal Manipulative Therapy: A Prospective Observational Cohort Study With One-Year Follow-Up.
Leemann S1, Peterson CK2, Schmid C1, Anklin B1, Humphreys BK3.

The purposes of this study were to evaluate patients with low-back pain (LBP) and leg pain due to magnetic resonance imaging-confirmed disc herniation who are treated with high-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulation in terms of their short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes of self-reported global impression of change and pain levels at various time points up to 1 year and to determine if outcomes differ between acute and chronic patients using a prospective, cohort design.

This prospective cohort outcomes study includes 148 patients (between ages of 18 and 65 years) with LBP, leg pain, and physical examination abnormalities with concordant lumbar disc herniations. Baseline numerical rating scale (NRS) data for LBP, leg pain, and the Oswestry questionnaire were obtained. The specific lumbar spinal manipulation was dependent upon whether the disc herniation was intraforaminal or paramedian as seen on the magnetic resonance images and was performed by a doctor of chiropractic. Outcomes included the patient's global impression of change scale for overall improvement, the NRS for LBP, leg pain, and the Oswestry questionnaire at 2 weeks, 1, 3, and 6 months, and 1 year after the first treatment. The proportion of patients reporting "improvement" on the patient's global impression of change scale was calculated for all patients and acute vs chronic patients. Pretreatment and posttreatment NRS scores were compared using the paired t test. Baseline and follow-up Oswestry scores were compared using the Wilcoxon test. Numerical rating scale and Oswestry scores for acute vs chronic patients were compared using the unpaired t test for NRS scores and the Mann-Whitney U test for Oswestry scores. Logistic regression analysis compared baseline variables with "improvement."

Significant improvement for all outcomes at all time points was reported (P < .0001). At 3 months, 90.5% of patients were "improved" with 88.0% "improved" at 1 year. Although acute patients improved faster by 3 months, 81.8% of chronic patients reported "improvement" with 89.2% "improved" at 1 year. There were no adverse events reported.

A large percentage of acute and importantly chronic lumbar disc herniation patients treated with chiropractic spinal manipulation reported clinically relevant improvement.

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