Research Article

Spinal manipulation and mobilisation for back and neck pain: a blinded review.

BMJ 1991; 303 doi: (Published 23 November 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;303:1298
  1. B W Koes,
  2. W J Assendelft,
  3. G J van der Heijden,
  4. L M Bouter,
  5. P G Knipschild
  1. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Limburg, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


    OBJECTIVE--To assess the efficacy of spinal manipulation for patients with back or neck pain. DESIGN--Computer aided search for published papers and blinded assessment of the methods of the studies. SUBJECTS--35 randomised clinical trials comparing spinal manipulation with other treatments. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Score for quality of methods (based on four main categories: study population, interventions, measurement of effect, and data presentation and analysis) and main conclusion of author(s) with regard to spinal manipulation. RESULTS--No trial scored 60 or more points (maximum score 100) suggesting that most were of poor quality. Eighteen studies (51%) showed favourable results for manipulation. In addition, five studies (14%) reported positive results in one or more subgroups. Of the four studies with 50-60 points, one reported that manipulation was better, two reported that manipulation was better in only a subgroup, and one reported that manipulation was no better or worse than reference treatment. Eight trials attempted to compare manipulation with some placebo, with inconsistent results. CONCLUSIONS--Although some results are promising, the efficacy of manipulation has not been convincingly shown. Further trials are needed, but much more attention should be paid to the methods of study.