Spinal manipulation epidemiology: systematic review of cost effectiveness studies

J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2012 Oct;22(5):655-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2012.02.011. Epub 2012 Mar 18.


Background: Spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is frequently used by health professionals to manage spinal pain. With many treatments having comparable outcomes to SMT, determining the cost-effectiveness of these treatments has been identified as a high research priority.

Objective: To investigate the cost-effectiveness of SMT compared to other treatment options for people with spinal pain of any duration.

Methods: We searched eight clinical and economic databases and the reference lists of relevant systematic reviews. Full economic evaluations conducted alongside randomised controlled trials with at least one SMT arm were eligible for inclusion. Two authors independently screened search results, extracted data and assessed risk of bias using the CHEC-list.

Results: Six cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analysis were included. All included studies had a low risk of bias scoring ≥16/19 on the CHEC-List. SMT was found to be a cost-effective treatment to manage neck and back pain when used alone or in combination with other techniques compared to GP care, exercise and physiotherapy.

Conclusions: This review supports the use of SMT in clinical practice as a cost-effective treatment when used alone or in combination with other treatment approaches. However, as this conclusion is primarily based on single studies more high quality research is needed to identify whether these findings are applicable in other settings.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Back Pain / diagnosis
  • Back Pain / economics*
  • Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Back Pain / prevention & control*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Manipulation, Spinal / economics*
  • Manipulation, Spinal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Neck Pain / economics*
  • Neck Pain / epidemiology
  • Neck Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pain Measurement / economics
  • Pain Measurement / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Satisfaction / economics
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome