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Thoracic manipulative practice: risks and benefits

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Nicola Heneghan
    Dr Rushton
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

In recent years attention has be drawn to the risks, including adverse events of performing orthopaedic manipulative techniques to the spine in physiotherapy practice. As a result the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapist has developed an evidence based framework and consensus document to assist clinicians in reasoning through the relative risk for use in practice. Whilst this is focused to the cervical spine, the reported risk of thoracic manipulative techniques remains a relatively unexplored area. Recent research has reported a range of adverse events following thoracic thrust techniques, including mechanical/vascular injury to the spine, pneumothorax, hamothorax and CSF leakage, albeit in a small numbers. Researchers suggest that that clinicians may not adequately screen for contraindications and precautions prior to undertaking thoracic thrust techniques despite a reported higher incidence of side effects for patients receiving thoracic thrust techniques compared to the cervical spine. With a body of evidence now advocating the use of thoracic thrust techniques over the higher risk cervical manipulative techniques for presentations such as neck pain it is important to consider the safety of such techniques.

This PhD will include as part of the research a critical review the current evidence of adverse events and side effects of using thoracic thrust techniques across all manipulative therapy professions. This will then inform a Delphi study to explore and derive a consensus of precautions and contraindications for the use of OMT in the thoracic spine including thoracic thrust techniques, mobilisations and exercise.


Eligibility requirements: In addition to institutional requirements a clinically relevant background e.g. physiotherapy is required.

Funding Notes

For self funding students

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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