Objective: The objective of this study was to measure the effects of thoracic spinal manipulation on heart rate variability (HRV) in a cohort of healthy young adults.
Methods: A controlled crossover trial that was conducted on 28 healthy young adults (23 men and 5 women; age range, 18-45 years; mean age, 29 +/- 7 years) measured HRV before and after a sham procedure and a thoracic spinal manipulation.
Results: In healthy young adults, thoracic spinal manipulation was associated with changes in HRV that were not duplicated by the sham procedure. The ratio of the powers of the low-frequency and high-frequency components increased from 0.9562 +/- 0.9192 to 1.304 +/- 1.118 (P = .0030, Wilcoxon signed rank test). In subjects undergoing sham spinal manipulation, there was no statistically significant change in the low-frequency or the high-frequency component of the power spectrum; neither was there any in the ratio of the two regardless of whether the comparison was made using the paired t test or the Wilcoxon signed rank test.
Conclusion: High-velocity and low-amplitude manipulation of the thoracic spine appears to be able to influence autonomic output to the heart in ways that are not duplicated by a sham procedure or by other forms of somatic/physical therapies.