Top 5 Fridays! 5 More Reasons to Manipulate the Thoracic Spine | Modern Manual Therapy Blog

Top 5 Fridays! 5 More Reasons to Manipulate the Thoracic Spine


The thoracic spine is a topic that I blog about now and then because it's popular and often forgotten.

You don't exactly read about how debilitating thoracic pain is, how it affects 80% of the population etc. Despite it not often causing pain, it's still an important area to give your attention to. Here are 5 More Reasons to Treat the Thoracic Spine

1) Thoracic Manipulation improves headaches and neck pain
  • have a patient that prefers manipulation but their head or neck is currently too sensitive to touch or move?
  • research shows thoracic manipulation will have similar effects to cervical manipulation for improvement in headaches and cervical pain
  • bonus - none of that unpredictable risk associated with cervical manipulation
2) Thoracic manipulation improves shoulder pain
  • whether it's impingement syndrome or frozen shoulder, research shows thoracic manipulation helps improvement both pain and mobility of both conditions
  • can't get into your preferred supine technique position due to a sensitive shoulder - it's ok, just mash the thoracic spine in prone, you'll get the same effects, no specificity needed, leading to....
3) Cavitations up the wazoo!
  • people who prefer manipulation tend to be most satisfied with treatment with a little sound in their treatment
  • there is certainly something to a cavitation, whether it's 
    • the preference
    • the feeling that - "That sure did something!"
  • not too many people asking for a manipulation or for you to "crack" their back have the same sense of placebo when you tell them, "Don't worry! Research shows the same success with or without the crack!"
  • that's like giving someone a green smoothie when they wanted a chocolate milkshake - they may or may not be satisfied with the apparent benefits 
4) It's Easy
  • In Modern Manual Therapy, you don't need to worry about specificity, and that's pretty much impossible anyway
  • you can target a few segments via hand placement, and to pressing and guessing, certain groups of 5-6 segments may feel more stiff, but in the end you're really moving A LOT of facets as well as stimulating tissues
5) It's easy to self treat
  • check these videos for resets and mobility drills
  • the thoracic whip
  • dual kettlebell trunk rotation and hip hinge
  • upper thoracic mobilization with foam roller
Another bonus... if you actually have a thoracic pain "only" patient, meaning shoulders, cervical spine, lumbar etc are clear, then you're looking at a 2 visit treatment after getting it moving threat free. The second visit is usually to make sure they're still moving well and understood their HEP.

Don't like to manipulate? Check out the video below

header image credit

Interested in live cases where I apply this approach and integrate it with pain science, manual therapy, repeated motions, IASTM, with emphasis on patient education? Check out Modern Manual Therapy!

Keeping it Eclectic...






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