Repeated applications of thoracic spine thrust manipulation do not lead to tolerance in patients presenting with acute mechanical neck pain: A secondary analysis

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It has been demonstrated that patients receiving mobilization techniques do not exhibit tolerance to repeated applications. However, this phenomenon has not been investigated for thoracic manipulation. Our aim was to determine if patients receiving thoracic thrust manipulation exhibit tolerance to repeated applications in acute mechanical neck pain. Forty-five patients were randomly assigned to two groups. The control group received electro- and thermotherapy for 5 sessions, and the experimental group received the same program and also received a thoracic thrust manipulation once a week for 3 consecutive weeks. Outcome measures included neck pain and cervical mobility. Within-session change scores for pain and mobility during treatment sessions #1, 3, and 5 were examined with a one-way repeated measured ANOVA. A 2-way ANOVA with session as within-subject variable and group as between-subject variable was used to compare change scores for each visit between groups to ascertain if there were significant between-group differences in within-session changes for the experimental versus the controlgroup. The ANOVA showed that for either group the 3 within-session change scores were not significantly different (P > 0.1). The 2-way ANOVA revealed significant differences between groups for both pain and neck mobility in within-session change scores (all, P < 0.001). Change scores in each session were superior in the experimental group as compared to those in the control group. The results suggest that patients receiving thoracic manipulation do not exhibit tolerance to repeated applications with regard to pain and mobility measures in acute mechanical neck pain. Further studies should investigate the dose-response relationship of thoracic thrust manipulation in this population.

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