In vivo 3D kinematics of the cervical spine segments during pre-manipulative positioning at the C4/C5 level

Walid Salem, Paul Klein
Manual Therapy 2013, 18 (4): 321-6
Segmental range of motion (ROM) during high-velocity manipulative spinal treatment is generally considered an important factor for the risk of adverse side effects, especially in the cervical spine region. Among the many techniques reported, the so-called multiple-component technique (MCT) is increasingly recommended. Such a technique is assumed to induce a relatively low three-dimensional (3D) segmental ROM compared with other techniques. The aims of our study are to quantify the 3D segmental ROM and to determine the pattern of motion between cervical vertebrae during the pre-manipulative position at the C4-C5 level. Ten healthy volunteers participated in this study. Two CT scans were conducted: one in a neutral position and the other in the pre-manipulative positioning. The manipulation using MCT was carried out by a skilled practitioner. During positioning, the head was rotated to the left and bent laterally to the right, and the upper cervical spine was rotated to the left and bent laterally to the right. In contrast, the lower cervical spine underwent right rotation and was bent laterally to the right. Segmental ROM was lower than the values obtained during active physiological rotation (P < 0.05). This study provides new insight into the 3D kinematics of the cervical spine during manipulation. An unexpected mechanism of counter-rotation was identified at the lower cervical levels and could represent a valuable and convenient way for precisely focussing on the level for manipulation.

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