Concern over spinal manipulation

 

Some people claim it is the answer to back pain, others that it's a risky manoeuvre with serious side effects.

Tens of thousands of patients undergo spinal manipulation every year by osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists in which the back or neck is "clicked" to relieve pain.

Today experts clash in the British Medical Journal over whether the risks are worth the benefits.

Neil O'Connell from Brunel University in London, and colleagues say research shows the manoeuvre carries a small but significant risk of tearing the lining of the vertebral artery or causing a stroke.

Yet the benefits are short term and do not provide lasting improvement.

The technique "may carry the potential for serious neurovascular complications" and is "unnecessary and inadvisable" they say.

Evidence suggests exercise is as effective as manipulation, without the risks. "The clear absence of unique benefit lead to the inevitable conclusion that manipulation of the cervical spine should be abandoned as part of conservative care for neck pain," they say.

David Cassidy, professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto, Canada, and colleagues argue this would be tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

They claim there is high quality evidence suggesting spinal manipulation can help patients with neck pain and it should be retained as a treatment option, along with other interventions such as exercise.

They call for further research to establish safe and effective treatments for the problem.

Back and neck pain are among the most common reasons for visits to GPs (after colds and flu). They affect one in three adults in the UK each year, with an estimated 2.5 million people seeking help from their GP.

Suggested Topics
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are working with this secondary s...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We are working with a school that needs a t...

    Recruitment Genius: Recording Engineer

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A long established media compan...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We are working with a school that needs a t...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea