Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of thoracic thrust manipulation vs thoracic non-thrust mobilization in patients with bilateral chronic mechanical neck pain on pressure pain sensitivity and neck pain intensity.
Methods: Fifty-two patients (58% were female) were randomly assigned to a thoracic spine thrust manipulation group or of thoracic non-thrust mobilization group. Pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) over C5-C6 zygapophyseal joint, second metacarpal, and tibialis anterior muscle and neck pain intensity (11-point Numerical Pain Rate Scale) were collected at baseline and 10 minutes after the intervention by an assessor blinded to group allocation. Mixed-model analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were used to examine the effects of the treatment on each outcome. The primary analysis was the group * time interaction.
Results: No significant interactions were found with the mixed-model ANOVAs for any PPT (C5-C6: P>.252; second metacarpal: P>.452; tibialis anterior: P>.273): both groups exhibited similar increases in PPT (all, P<.01), but within-group and between-group effect sizes were small (standardized mean score difference [SMD]<0.22). The ANOVA found that patients receiving thoracic spine thrust manipulation experienced a greater decrease in neck pain (between-group mean difference: 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.8-2.1) than did those receiving thoracic spine non-thrust mobilization (P<.001). Within-group effect sizes were large for both groups (SMD>2.1), and between-group effect size was also large (SMD = 1.3) in favor of the manipulative group.
Conclusions: The results of this randomized clinical trial suggest that thoracic thrust manipulation and non-thrust mobilization induce similar changes in widespread PPT in individuals with mechanical neck pain; however, the changes were clinically small. We also found that thoracic thrust manipulation was more effective than thoracic non-thrust mobilization for decreasing intensity of neck pain for patients with bilateral chronic mechanical neck pain.
Keywords: Manual Therapy; Neck Pain; Pressure; Spine.
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