Clinical presentation and manual therapy for upper quadrant musculoskeletal conditions

J Man Manip Ther. 2011 Nov;19(4):201-11. doi: 10.1179/106698111X13129729551985.

Abstract

In recent years, increased knowledge of the pathogenesis of upper quadrant pain syndromes has translated to better management strategies. Recent studies have demonstrated evidence of peripheral and central sensitization mechanisms in different local pain syndromes of the upper quadrant such as idiopathic neck pain, lateral epicondylalgia, whiplash-associated disorders, shoulder impingement, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Therefore, a treatment-based classification approach where subjects receive matched interventions has been developed and, it has been found that these patients experience better outcomes than those receiving non-matched interventions. There is evidence suggesting that the cervical and thoracic spine is involved in upper quadrant pain. Spinal manipulation has been found to be effective for patients with elbow pain, neck pain, or cervicobrachial pain. Additionally, it is known that spinal manipulative therapy exerts neurophysiological effects that can activate pain modulation mechanisms. This paper exposes some manual therapies for upper quadrant pain syndromes, based on a nociceptive pain rationale for modulating central nervous system including trigger point therapy, dry needling, mobilization or manipulation, and cognitive pain approaches.

Keywords: Manual therapy; Neck; Pain; Sensitization; Thoracic; Upper quadrant.