Clinician proficiency in delivering manual treatment for neck pain within specified force ranges.
BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Neck pain is a common musculoskeletal complaint responsive to manual therapies. Doctors of chiropractic commonly use manual cervical distraction, a mobilization procedure, to treat neck pain patients. However, it is unknown if clinicians can consistently apply standardized cervical traction forces, a critical step toward identifying an optimal therapeutic dose. PURPOSE: To assess clinicians' proficiency in delivering manually applied traction forces within specified ranges to neck pain patients. STUDY DESIGN: An observational study nested within a randomized clinical trial. SAMPLE: Two research clinicians provided study interventions to 48 participants with neck pain. OUTCOME MEASURES: Clinician proficiency in delivering cervical traction forces within three specified ranges (low force, less than 20 N; medium force, 21-50 N; and high force 51-100 N). METHODS: Participants were randomly allocated to three force-based treatment groups. Participants received five manual cervical distraction treatments over 2 weeks while lying prone on a treatment table instrumented with force sensors. Two clinicians delivered manual traction forces according to treatment groups. Clinicians treated participants first without real-time visual feedback displaying traction force and then with visual feedback. Peak traction force data were extracted and descriptively analyzed. RESULTS: Clinicians delivered manual cervical distraction treatments within the prescribed traction force ranges 75% of the time without visual feedback and 97% of the time with visual feedback. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that doctors of chiropractic can successfully deliver prescribed traction forces while treating neck pain patients, enabling the capability to conduct force-based dose response clinical studies.
Gudavalli, MR; Vining, RD; Salsbury, SA; Corber, LG; Long, CR; Patwardhan, AG; Goertz, CM
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