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Papers of the Week

Papers: 5 Aug 2023 - 11 Aug 2023


Human Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Orofacial/Head Pain

2023 Aug 07

Sci Rep




Immediate systemic neuroimmune responses following spinal mobilisation and manipulation in people with non-specific neck pain: a randomised placebo-controlled trial.


Lutke Schipholt IJ, Coppieters MW, Reijm M, Bontkes HJ, Scholten-Peeters GGM


Spinal mobilisation/manipulation is a common intervention for spinal pain, yet the working mechanisms are largely unknown. A randomised placebo-controlled trial was conducted to (1) compare the immediate neuroimmune responses following spinal mobilisation/manipulation and placebo spinal mobilisation/manipulation; (2) compare the immediate neuroimmune responses of those with a good outcome with those of a poor outcome following spinal mobilisation/manipulation; and (3) explore the association between neuroimmune responses and pain reduction. One hundred patients were randomly allocated to spinal mobilisation/manipulation or a placebo mobilisation/manipulation. Primary outcomes were whole blood in-vitro evoked released concentrations of IL-1β and TNF-α measured 10 min and 2 h after the intervention. Immediate effects were studied because successful mobilisation/manipulation is often associated with immediate pain reduction, and immediate neuroimmune responses are less affected by potential confounders than long-term responses. Secondary outcomes included multiple systemic inflammatory marker concentrations, phenotypic analysis of white blood cells and clinical outcomes. Outcomes were compared between the experimental and placebo group, and between people with a good and poor outcome in the experimental group. Estimates of intervention effects were based on intention-to-treat analyses, by using linear mixed-effect models. Although there was a substantial difference in pain reduction between groups (mean (SD) difference visual analogue scale: 30 (21) mm at 10 min and 32 (21) mm at 2 h (p < 0.001) in favour of mobilisation/manipulation, there were no differences in primary outcomes between groups or between people with a good and poor outcome (p ≥ 0.10). In conclusion, possible neuroimmune responses following spinal mobilisations/manipulation cannot be identified at a systemic level. Future research may focus on longer treatment duration and more localised neuroimmune responses.