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bibliography*The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Bronfort 2010.

Underwhelming: spinal adjustment and massage for back pain, neck pain


Tags: treatment, classics, back pain, spinal adjustment, controversy, chiropractic, massage, pain problems, spine, debunkery, manual therapy

PainSci summary of Bronfort 2010?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

This review of manual therapies focusses on spinal manipulative therapy and massage therapy for low back and neck pain, with predictably mixed results ranging from inconclusive to underwhelming to suspiciously positive. Both are judged “effective” for some conditions but not impressively so, and mostly no different from other therapies that are notoriously unimpressive. For instance, the authors write that SMT is effective but “similar in effect to other commonly used efficacious therapies such as usual care, exercise, or back school.” How nice for SMT that it can hold it’s own against “back school.”

The “effective” conclusions about SMT for various conditions seems strange to me, because the actual data is consistent with the much more negative conclusions of other major reviews, most Rubinstein et al. I suspect these authors are keen to say nice things about SMT.

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

The purpose of this report is to provide a succinct but comprehensive summary of the scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of manual treatment for the management of a variety of musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal conditions.

related content

One article on cites Bronfort 2010 as a source:

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: