How does joint manipulation affect the autonomic nervous system (ANS)? This is certainly an interesting, complex issue. Properly assessing the existing science is critical to gaining a proper understanding of this topic…that’s the focus of this week’s Review.
Spinal/joint manipulation is broadly used to treat musculoskeletal conditions, but the mechanism(s) of action of joint manipulative therapies (JMT) remains unknown. Research into biomechanical and neurophysiological mechanisms have yielded incomplete answers, as has initial research into the effect of JMT on the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Effects on the ANS such as somato-autonomic reflex modulation have been proposed as potential mechanisms. Indeed, the chiropractic profession initially professed to “normalize” autonomic activity as an explanation for the treatment effect of high-velocity spinal manipulation. The exact mechanism of effect, however, remains elusive.
Several literature reviews have attempted to systematically review and meta-analyze results from studies investigating the mechanism of JMT, although they are limited by methodological concerns, including design and study quality, study quality assessment, limitations in treatment scope and the lack of a standard control intervention.
We need to understand the evidence we currently have on this topic. As such, the goal of this study was review and critique the existing literature and compare the acute changes in ANS markers between patients receiving JMT on spinal or peripheral joints with those undergoing a sham treatment…LOG IN OR SUBSCRIBE TODAY TO ACCESS OUR RESEARCH REVIEWS!
“Acute Effects of Joint Manipulation on the Autonomic Nervous System”
This paper was published in Chiropractic and Manual Therapies (2019) and this Review is posted in Recent Reviews, Spinal Manipulation - Mechanisms of Action and the 2019 Archive.

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