The Effect of Cervical Spine Manipulation on Postural Sway in Patients With Nonspecific Neck Pain

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This crossover study aimed to determine whether a single high-velocity, low-amplitude manipulation of the cervical spine would affect postural sway in adults with nonspecific neck pain.


Ten participants received, in random order, 7 days apart, a high-velocity, low-amplitude manipulation applied to a dysfunctional spinal segment and a passive head-movement control. Four parameters of postural sway were measured before, immediately after, and at 5 and 10 minutes after each procedure.


Results showed no differences between interventions in change in any of the parameters. When changes before and immediately after each procedure were analyzed separately, only the control showed a significant change in the length of center of pressure path (an increase from median, 118 mm; interquartlie range, 93-137 mm to an increase to 132 mm; 112-147; P = .02).


This study failed to show evidence that single manipulation of the cervical spine influenced postural sway. Given the ability of the postural control system to reweight the hierarchy of sensory information to compensate for inadequacies in any 1 component, it is possible that any improvements in the mechanisms controlling postural sway elicited by the manipulative intervention may have been concealed.

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