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Table 9 Results from three studies included in a systematic review on the effect of spinal manipulation on ‘brain function’, comparing spinal manipulation to a sham intervention

From: Unravelling functional neurology: does spinal manipulation have an effect on the brain? - a systematic literature review

1st Author
Type of study subjects Outcome variable Was a statistically significant difference between groups observed? Was there a relationship between brain changes and any clinical outcome? Time of assessment Quality classification
Symptomatic (mechanical neck pain < of 6 weeks of duration) Blood oxygenation-level dependent signal (in response to noxious stimuli) Yes (p < .05) Statistically significant increase of activation in the insular and sensorimotor cortices post-SM compared to control; and in the anterior and posterior cingulate, supplementary motor area, and precentral gyrus post-control compared to SM Pain intensity assessed but no relationship tested Immediately after Acceptable
“Subclinical neck/spinal pain” N30 somatosensory evoked potential peak amplitudes Yes (significant post-intervention difference between-groups reported but without inclusion of the corresponding p-value and mention of the statistical threshold for significance)
Statistically significant decrease post-SM (p = .02) but no statistically significant changes post-control (p = .4)
No clinical outcome included Not reported Medium
Cerebellar inhibition Yes (p < .001)
Statistically significant reduce post-SM compared to control
No clinical outcome included Unclear (according to Fig. 1 immediately after the motor acquisition task, i.e. about 20 min after intervention) Medium
  1. Results are reported (i) grouped by type of study subjects (symptomatic or with “subclinical neck/spinal pain”), and (ii) consecutively by year of publication
  2. SM Spinal manipulation