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Trager, JR., Daniels, JC., Meyer, WK., Stout, CA., Dusek, AJ. (2023) 'Clinician approaches to spinal manipulation for persistent spinal pain after lumbar surgery: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual patient data', Chiropr Man Therap.2023 Mar 9;31(1):10

Chiropr Man Therap.2023 Mar 9;31(1):10

Clinician approaches to spinal manipulation for persistent spinal pain after lumbar surgery: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual patient data

Robert J Trager, Clinton J Daniels, Kevin W Meyer, Amber C Stout, Jeffery A Dusek


Background: This review aimed to identify variables influencing clinicians' application of spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) for persistent spine pain after lumbar surgery (PSPS-2). We hypothesized markers of reduced clinical/surgical complexity would be associated with greater odds of applying SMT to the lumbar region, use of manual-thrust lumbar SMT, and SMT within 1-year post-surgery as primary outcomes; and chiropractors would have increased odds of using lumbar manual-thrust-SMT compared to other practitioners. Methods: Per our published protocol, observational studies describing adults receiving SMT for PSPS-2 were included. PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, OVID, PEDro, and Index to Chiropractic Literature were searched from inception to January 6, 2022. Individual patient data (IPD) were requested from contact authors when needed for selection criteria. Data extraction and a customized risk-of-bias rubric were completed in duplicate. Odds ratios (ORs) for primary outcomes were calculated using binary logistic regressions, with covariates including age, sex, symptom distribution, provider, motion segments, spinal implant, and surgery-to-SMT interval. Results: 71 articles were included describing 103 patients (mean age 52 ± 15, 55% male). The most common surgeries were laminectomy (40%), fusion (34%), and discectomy (29%). Lumbar SMT was used in 85% of patients; and of these patients was non-manual-thrust in 59%, manual-thrust in 33%, and unclear in 8%. Clinicians were most often chiropractors (68%). SMT was used > 1-year post-surgery in 66% of cases. While no primary outcomes reached significance, non-reduced motion segments approached significance for predicting use of lumbar-manual-thrust SMT (OR 9.07 [0.97-84.64], P = 0.053). Chiropractors were significantly more likely to use lumbar-manual-thrust SMT (OR 32.26 [3.17-327.98], P = 0.003). A sensitivity analysis omitting high risk-of-bias cases (missing ≥ 25% IPD) revealed similar results. Conclusions: Clinicians using SMT for PSPS-2 most often apply non-manual-thrust SMT to the lumbar spine, while chiropractors are more likely to use lumbar-manual-thrust SMT relative to other providers. As non-manual-thrust SMT may be gentler, the proclivity towards this technique suggests providers are cautious when applying SMT after lumbar surgery. Unmeasured variables such as patient or clinician preferences, or limited sample size may have influenced our findings. Large observational studies and/or international surveys are needed for an improved understanding of SMT use for PSPS-2. Systematic review registration PROSPERO (CRD42021250039).

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