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Chiropractic Research Review

Resolving Mechanical Neck Pain: Ultrasound vs. Manipulation

Vertebral manipulation has historically served as the primary intervention for chiropractors seeking to restore normal joint and muscle function in patients with mechanical neck pain, although a variety of other intervention techniques have also been utilized, including manipulation, mobilization, interferential, ultrasound and trigger-point therapy.

In a study intended to compare the effectiveness of spinal manipulation vs. ultrasound in the conservative management of neck pain, 30 subjects (aged 16-60 years) with neck pain were divided into two groups. The first group received spinal manipulation (high-velocity, short-amplitude thrusts in the direction of the planes of articulation of the posterior facet joints) twice a week for four weeks. The second group received ultrasound (pulsed, 0.5 watts/cm2 - 1.0 watts/cm2, five minutes' duration) for the same time period. Improvements over the study period were assessed using goniometry, algometry, pain rating scales and a neck disability index.

Results showed that ultrasound increased right rotation range of motion only, whereas spinal manipulation increased left rotation and right lateral flexion while decreasing overall neck disability. As the authors conclude, "...it appears that both ultrasound and adjustments are useful in treating mechanical neck pain; however, it appears that adjustments were more effective in restoring overall mobility and in decreasing cervical disability than ultrasound alone."

Moodley M, Brantingham JW. The relative effectiveness of spinal manipulation and ultrasound in mechanical pain: pilot study. Chiropractic Technique, Nov. 1999:11(4), pp164-168. Reprints: Tel: (717) 632-3535; Fax: (717) 633-8920

Chiropractic Research Review

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