Neck Pain, Proprioception and Chiropractic

Proprioception is the part of the nervous system that tells your brain the position of your body in space.

There have been a number of studies examining the relationship between whiplash and proprioceptive dysfunction. A new study adds to our knowledge, by examining the effectiveness of chiropractic in patients with chronic neck pain.

In this study, 20 patients with chronic neck pain were evaluated at the beginning of the study for pain levels and proprioceptive functioning. The patients were then divided into two groups: Group A, who received six sessions of spinal manipulation; Group B, who were instructed to perform stretching exercises twice daily for 3-4 weeks.

After the study period, the spinal manipulation patients showed a 44% improvement in pain symptoms on average, while the stretching patients showed just a 9% improvement. In regard to proprioceptive functioning, similar results were found: a 41% improvement in the manipulation group, but only an 11% improvement in the stretching group.

How spinal manipulation effects proprioception is not yet known, but the authors speculate that chiropractic treatment somehow stimulates the deep articular mechanoreceptors in the spine, in turn leading to improved functioning.

Rogers RG. The effects of spinal manipulation on cervical kinesthesia in patients with chronic neck pain: a pilot study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 1997;20(2):80-85.