Immediate effects of cervicothoracic junction mobilization versus thoracic manipulation on the range of motion and pain in mechanical neck pain with cervicothoracic junction dysfunction: A pilot randomized controlled trial

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Chiropractic and Manual Therapies


Background: Cervicothoracic (CT) junction hypomobility has been proposed as a contributing factor for neck pain. However, there are limited studies that compared the effect of CT junction mobilization against an effective intervention in neck pain. Thoracic spine manipulation is a nonspecific intervention for neck pain where remote spinal segments are treated based on the concept of regional interdependence. The effectiveness of segment-specific spinal mobilization in the cervical spine has been researched in the last few years, and no definite conclusions could be made from the previous studies. The above reasons warrant the investigation of the effects of a specific CT junction mobilization against a nonspecific thoracic manipulation intervention in neck pain. The present study aims to compare the immediate effects of C7-T1 Maitland mobilization with thoracic manipulation in individuals with mechanical neck pain presenting with CT junction dysfunction specifically. Methods: A randomized clinical trial is conducted where participants with complaints of mechanical neck pain and CT junction dysfunction randomly assigned to either C7-T1 level Maitland mobilization group or mid-thoracic (T3-T6) manipulation group (active control group). In both the groups, the post graduate student (SJ) pursuing Master's in orthopedic physiotherapy delivered the intervention. The outcomes of cervical flexion, extension, side flexion & rotation range of motion (ROM) were measured before & after the intervention with a cervical range of motion (CROM) device. Self-reported pain intensity was measured with the numerical pain rating scale (NPRS). The post-intervention between-group comparison was performed using a one-way ANCOVA test. Results: Forty-two participants with mean age CT junction group: 35.14 ± 10.13 and Thoracic manipulation group: 38.47 ± 11.47 were recruited for the study. No significant differences in the post-intervention baseline adjusted outcomes of cervical ROM & self-reported pain intensity were identified between the groups after the treatment (p = 0.08, 0.95, 0.01, 0.39, 0.29, 0.27for flexion, extension, bilateral lateral flexion & rotations respectively) & neck pain intensity (p = 0.68). However, within-group, pre, and post comparison showed significant improvements in cervical ROM and pain in both groups. Conclusion: This preliminary study identified that CT junction mobilization is not superior to thoracic manipulation on the outcomes of cervical ROM and neck pain when level-specific CT junction mobilization was compared with remote mid-thoracic manipulation in individuals with mechanical neck pain and CT junction dysfunction. Trial registration: CTRI: 2018/04/013088, Registered 6 April 2018, http://ctri.nic.in/Clinicaltrials/pmaindet2.php?trialid=24418



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