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Spinal Reflex Attenuation Associated with Spinal Manipulation

Researchers from New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, New York have documented that chiropractic adjustments and spinal mobilization produce short-term inhibition of the human motor system.

To measure alpha motoneuron activity, researchers tested the tibial nerve Hoffmann reflex from the gastrocnemius muscle in 17 pain-free volunteers before and after spinal manipulation with thrust and mobilization without thrust. Both procedures inhibited alpha motoneuron activity immediately following intervention. Alpha motoneuron activity returned to pre-test levels within 30 seconds.

The study's authors concluded that their findings "substantiate the theory that manual spinal therapy procedures may lead to short-term inhibitory effects on the human motor system."  These findings may explain why spinal manipulation reduces electromyographic activity in low-back pain sufferers, explain researchers.

Dishman JD, Bulbulian R.   Spine. 2000 (Oct 1); 25 (19): 2519-2524