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Pain is a big deal, just ask anyone who has it or treats it. There are as many theories about pain, chronicity, and interventions as there are people who have it.
Interestingly enough, I found myself in a platform presentation at CSM on this very topic. I’m sure some of the information presented is old news to those who study pain, but I found it extremely interesting and clinically relevant.
Several researchers from the University of Florida continue to look at possible mechanisms for effectiveness of spinal manipulation performed by Physical Therapists. Steven George (I must mention he is an alum of West Virginia University), Mark Bishop, Joel Bialosky, and others have focused in on a possible dorsal horn mediated mechanism.
Without getting into the neuroanatomy and physiology too deep, this mechanism basically says that manipulation causes an inhibition of some nerve fiber input that carries pain information. This creates a hypoalgesic response that appears to be a local phenomenon.
I’ll be reading more deeply into the proposed neurophysiological mechanisms and will pass along information as I gather it. For now, here are two articles that discuss this topic – take a peek.
George et al. Immediate effects of spinal manipulation on thermal pain sensitivity: an experimental study. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2006; 7:68
Bialosky et al. The influence of expectation on spinal manipulation induced hypoalgesia: an experimental study in normal subjects. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2008; 9:19.