2008 ACC-RAC Award Winning Paper| Volume 33, ISSUE 3, P178-188, March 2010

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Altered Central Integration of Dual Somatosensory Input After Cervical Spine Manipulation



      The aim of the current study was to investigate changes in the intrinsic inhibitory interactions within the somatosensory system subsequent to a session of spinal manipulation of dysfunctional cervical joints.


      Dual peripheral nerve stimulation somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) ratio technique was used in 13 subjects with a history of reoccurring neck stiffness and/or neck pain but no acute symptoms at the time of the study. Somatosensory evoked potentials were recorded after median and ulnar nerve stimulation at the wrist (1 millisecond square wave pulse, 2.47 Hz, 1 × motor threshold). The SEP ratios were calculated for the N9, N11, N13, P14-18, N20-P25, and P22-N30 peak complexes from SEP amplitudes obtained from simultaneous median and ulnar (MU) stimulation divided by the arithmetic sum of SEPs obtained from individual stimulation of the median (M) and ulnar (U) nerves.


      There was a significant decrease in the MU/M + U ratio for the cortical P22-N30 SEP component after chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine. The P22-N30 cortical ratio change appears to be due to an increased ability to suppress the dual input as there was also a significant decrease in the amplitude of the MU recordings for the same cortical SEP peak (P22-N30) after the manipulations. No changes were observed after a control intervention.


      This study suggests that cervical spine manipulation may alter cortical integration of dual somatosensory input. These findings may help to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for the effective relief of pain and restoration of functional ability documented after spinal manipulation treatment.

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