I’m delighted to announce that after 15+ long months, after rejecting around 200 patients who did not meet the inclusion criteria, 30 patients (the target) have been successfully recruited without drop-out. All that remains is to recruit the remaining 6 healthy volunteers for the control group but that’s ok, they’ve been much easier to come by!
The next month or two is going to be all about number crunching now (as well as a timely visit to South Africa to present findings from my preliminary studies at the WFC Congress – see previous post for details). I want to find out if inter-vertebral motion (specifically I’m looking at angular range and instantaneous axis of rotation locations) changes in the neck pain/cervical manipulation group. The theory that spinal manipulation effects or ‘improves’ intervertebral motion is one that is common to the chiropractic, osteopathy and physiotherapy professions but it is a theory that has not until now been put to the test with an accurate and objective method. It is only with the development of quantitative fluoroscopy that this line of enquiry has been made possible.
The control group isn’t strictly a control group but is intended to provide ‘normal’ motion data against which to compare patients’ data. The healthy volunteers (i.e. no neck pain) are also imaged at baseline and 4-week follow-up to find out the extent to which inter-vertebral motion might change in people without neck pain receiving no treatment. Changes in patients therefore need to be greater than any differences in the control group to be considered likely due to treatment. I hasten to add I will not be able to draw causative but associative conclusions regarding motion changes in the neck pain/manipulation group due to the study design. But even that would be a good first start in suggesting that spinal manipulation might indeed have an effect inter-vertebral motion. I hope to be posting some positive news here very soon but I have to remember that the data won’t necessarily say what I want it to say……..