Manual therapy for the cervical spine and reported adverse effects: A survey of Irish Manipulative Physiotherapists

  • Sweeney A
  • Doody C
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The purpose of this study was to determine the use of manipulation and mobilisation by the Chartered Physiotherapists (CMPT) in Manipulative Therapy Ireland and to describe adverse effects associated with the use of these techniques. A 44 item postal survey was sent to all 259 members of the CPMT (response rate 49%, n = 127). All 127 respondents used non-High Velocity Thrust Techniques (HVTT) and 27% (n = 34) used HVTT. Nine percent (n = 12) used HVTT on the upper cervical spine. Twenty six percent (n = 33) reported an adverse effect in the previous 2 years. The adverse effects were associated with the use of HVTT (4%, n = 5), non-HVTT (20%, n = 26) and cervical traction (2%, n = 2). The most serious adverse effects were associated with non-HVTT and included 1 drop attack, 1 fainting episode and 1 Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) 4 days post treatment. Fifty three percent (n = 18) of HVTT users and 40% (n = 44) of non-HVTT users reported carrying out a vertebrobasilar insufficiency (VBI) assessment. The study shows that VBI assessment may not detect every patient at risk of adverse effects. Large scale studies to investigate the risk of serious adverse reactions are needed. A system of reporting adverse effects on a routine basis could be considered. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adverse effects
  • Cervical manipulation
  • Vertebrobasilar insufficiency

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  • Aoife Sweeney

  • Catherine Doody

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