Spinal Manipulation and Pain Sensitivity Research Project

Do you get both neck pain AND lower back pain?

Want to try spinal manipulation?

We need your help!

A study investigating how spinal manipulation affects your pain sensitivity is currently being conducted at Murdoch University, Western Australia. Read on to find out how you might be able to help, and how you might benefit from volunteering. If you know someone who might be a good fit for the study, please share this information with them!

What exactly are you researching?

The study aims to investigate how your pain sensitivity, in various body regions, changes following spinal manipulation to the neck and lower back. We are also investigating whether any changes in pain sensitivity are maintained for 60 minutes.

Why study that?

Spinal manipulation is a commonly used and safe form of manual therapy for treating musculoskeletal complaints such as neck and lower back pain. Many people find it helpful for managing their symptoms. However, there is a lack of understanding of how spinal manipulation leads to pain relief. This study will help us understand more about how spinal manipulation affects the body, and this will help support future research on how health care professionals can apply it more effectively in practice.

This study is part of a PhD in lower back pain, pain sensitivity, and spinal manipulative therapy being undertaken at Murdoch University.


What’s involved?

Briefly, participation involves completing several brief questionnaires and a physical examination before receiving spinal manipulation to either your neck or lower back. Your sensitivity to mild pressure pain will be tested in four areas of your body (on both sides), before and for 1 hour after the manipulation.

In more detail, we will start by making sure it’s as safe as possible for you to participate by assessing your medical history and with a physical examination. Next there are several brief questionnaires to measure things such as anxiety.

After this, a researcher will need to mark eight locations on your body (four on each side) with a skin-safe marker; on the lower neck, shoulder, lower back, and calf. A device called an algometer will then be used to measure your sensitivity to pressure three times at each of these locations. The algometer will be pressed into your skin until the feeling of pressure first becomes painful, after which the pressure will relieve.

Once these measurements have been taken initially, you will receive spinal manipulation to either your neck or lower back by an experienced chiropractor. The manipulation should not cause any pain.

Immediately after the manipulation, the pressure measurements will be repeated, and again after 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes. While measurements are not being taken, you will be asked to wait quietly in the room with some light reading supplied. After the final measurement, you will be free to leave.

Participation will take approximately 2 hours, and is all done at the Murdoch University South St campus.

We ask that you wear loose fitting clothing that will enable us to access the areas being tested. Jewellery and make-up will not affect the measurements.

This study has been approved by the Murdoch University Human Research Ethics Committee (Approval 2016/176).

Am I eligible?

To be eligible, you must be 18-60 years of age, and get periodic, frequent, or constant pain in both your neck and lower back. You do not need to have neck pain and low back pain right now.

A variety of medical conditions may exclude you from participating in this study. These include uncontrolled high blood pressure, low bone density (osteoporosis), some types of joint disease (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis), neurological conditions, major spine trauma or injury, generalised hypermobility (extremely flexible joints), and others that will be checked prior to your participation.

What do I get out of it?

You may benefit from this study by finding that your neck or lower back pain symptoms improve following the spinal manipulation. It is also an opportunity to experience spinal manipulation, if you have never received it before. Beyond this, you may experience satisfaction from helping to improve our understanding of spinal manipulation.

What are the risks?

The risks of participating are mostly minor, though there are some rare serious risks.

You may feel mild soreness, stiffness, or headache for a short period (up to 24 hours) which should resolve on its own. There is a small risk of tenderness or bruising at a location where pain sensitivity is measured, which should be mild and resolve over a few days or less.

Other more concerning risks are uncommon to very rare, and all precautions are taken to ensure you are at the lowest risk possible of experiencing these. These include dizziness, nausea, disc injury, nerve or spinal cord injury, and injury to arteries in the neck which may cause a stroke.


What about my privacy?

Your privacy is very important. All information is treated as confidential and no names or other details that might identify you will be used in any publication arising from the research.

Can I withdraw from the study at any time?

Your participation in the study is entirely voluntary. You may withdraw at any time without discrimination or prejudice, and without providing a reason why. If you withdraw, all information you have provided will be destroyed.

Taking the next step…

Are you interested in volunteering? Or would you like more information?

Please get in contact with our researcher Sasha Dorron.
(08) 9360 2114