The neurophysiological effects of a single session of spinal joint mobilization: does the effect last?

J Man Manip Ther. 2011 Aug;19(3):143-51. doi: 10.1179/2042618611Y.0000000003.


Studies detailing the neurophysiological effects of spinal manual therapy have fueled a paradigm shift away from a strict biomechanical model. However, a recent systematic review of the temporal nature of a single session of spinal thrust manipulation found that the neurophysiological effects were only temporary. The objective of this review was to examine the temporal nature of neurophysiological effects after one session of spinal mobilization. Studies eligible for this review had to report on the temporal component of the neurophysiological effects of a single session of joint mobilization of the spine in human subjects. In order to be sure that the temporal nature of these effects was captured, the studies had to monitor neurophysiological effects for a time beyond the immediate post-treatment period. This systematic review followed the methodology for preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses. In order to assess the quality, strength, and importance of the included studies, the grading of recommendations assessment, development and evaluation system was used. Results of this review showed that the neurophysiological effects of a single session of spinal mobilization are mostly 5 minutes or less. An exception to these findings is hypoalgesia which may last up to 24 hours, based on one study. Continued research on small samples of healthy subjects with irrelevant immediate outcomes like salivary rate, skin conductance, and skin temperature should give way to randomized controlled trials on subjects with pain and decreased function.

Keywords: Manual therapy; Mobilization; Neurophysiological; Spine; Temporal.