Journal Article
Randomized Controlled Trial
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Autonomic nervous system and endocrine system response to upper and lower cervical spine mobilization in healthy male adults: a randomized crossover trial.

BACKGROUND: Cervical spine mobilizations may differentially modulate both components of the stress response, consisting of the autonomic nervous system and hypothalamic pituitary adrenal-axis, depending on whether the target location is the upper or lower cervical spine. To date, no study has investigated this.

METHODS: A randomized, crossover trial investigated the effects of upper versus lower cervical mobilization on both components of the stress response simultaneously. The primary outcome was salivary cortisol (sCOR) concentration. The secondary outcome was heart rate variability measured with a smartphone application. Twenty healthy males, aged 21-35, were included. Participants were randomly assigned to block-AB (upper then lower cervical mobilization, n  = 10) or block-BA (lower than upper cervical mobilization, n  = 10), separated by a one-week washout period. All interventions were performed in the same room (University clinic) under controlled conditions. Statistical analyses were performed with a Friedman's Two-Way ANOVA and Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test.

RESULTS: Within groups, sCOR concentration reduced thirty-minutes following lower cervical mobilization ( p  = 0.049). Between groups, sCOR concentration was different at thirty-minutes following the intervention ( p  = 0.018).

CONCLUSION: There was a statistically significant reduction in sCOR concentration following lower cervical spine mobilization, and between-group difference, 30 min following the intervention. This indicates that mobilizations applied to separate target locations within the cervical spine can differentially modulate the stress response.

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