Spinal manipulation: an update of a systematic review of systematic reviews

N Z Med J. 2011 Aug 12;124(1340):55-71.


Objectives: The aim of this update is to critically evaluate the evidence for or against the effectiveness of spinal manipulation in patients with any type of clinical condition.

Design: Four electronic databases were searched to identify all relevant systematic reviews of the effectiveness of spinal manipulation in any condition published between 2005 and January 2011. Reviews were defined as systematic, if they included an explicit and repeatable inclusion and exclusion criteria for studies.

Results: Forty-five systematic reviews were included relating to the following conditions: low back pain (n=7), headache (n=6), neck pain (n=4), asthma (n=4), musculoskeletal conditions (n=3), any non-musculoskeletal conditions (n=2), fibromyalgia (n=2), infant colic (n=2), any medical problem (n=1), any paediatric conditions (n=1), carpal tunnel syndrome (n=1), cervicogenic dizziness (n=1), dysmenorrhoea (n=1), gastrointestinal problems (n=1), hypertension (n=1), idiopathic scoliosis (n=1), lateral epicondylitis (n=1), lower extremity conditions (n=1), pregnancy and related conditions (n=1), psychological outcome (n=1), shoulder pain (n=1), upper extremity conditions (n=1) and whiplash injury (n=1). Positive or, for multiple SR, unanimously positive conclusions were drawn for psychological outcomes (n=1) and whiplash (n=1).

Conclusion: Collectively these data fail to demonstrate convincingly that spinal manipulation is an effective intervention for any condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / therapy
  • Dizziness / diagnosis
  • Dizziness / therapy
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / diagnosis
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy
  • Headache / diagnosis
  • Headache / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Hypertension / therapy
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis
  • Low Back Pain / therapy
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Spinal / methods*
  • Manipulation, Spinal / trends*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / therapy
  • Neck Pain / diagnosis
  • Neck Pain / therapy
  • New Zealand
  • Pregnancy
  • Prognosis
  • Treatment Outcome