Cervical spinal manipulation (CSM) and cervical mobilization are frequently used in patients with neck pain and headache. Pre-manipulative cervical instability and arterial integrity tests appear to be unreliable in identifying patients at risk for adverse events. It would be valuable if patients at risk could be identified by specific characteristics during the preliminary screening.

Objective was to identify characteristics of 1) patients, 2) practitioners, 3) treatment process and 4) adverse events (AE) occurring after CSM or cervical mobilization.

A systematic search was performed in PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Web-of-science, AMED, and ICL (Index Chiropractic Literature) up to December 2014.

Of the initial 1043 studies, 144 studies were included, containing 227 cases. 117 cases described male patients with a mean age of 45 (SD 12) and a mean age of 39 (SD 11) for females. Most patients were treated by chiropractors (66%). Manipulation was reported in 95% of the cases, and neck pain was the most frequent indication. Cervical arterial dissection (CAD) was reported in 57% (P = 0.21) of the cases and 45.8% had immediate onset symptoms. The overall distribution of gender for CAD is 55% (n = 71) for female and therefore opposite of the total AE.

Patient characteristics were described poorly. No clear patient profile, related to the risk of AE after CSM, could be extracted. However, women seem more at risk for CAD. There seems to be under-reporting of cases. Further research should focus on a more uniform and complete registration of AE using standardized terminology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-38
JournalMusculoskeletal Science and Practice
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017
EventInternational Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT) Conference 2016 - Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Jul 20168 Jul 2016


  • cervical arterial dissection
  • cervical manipulation
  • cervical mobilization


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