Adverse events among seniors receiving spinal manipulation and exercise in a randomized clinical trial

Michele Maiers, Roni Evans, Jan Hartvigsen, Craig Schulz, Gert Bronfort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) and exercise have demonstrated effectiveness for neck pain (NP). Adverse events (AE) reporting in trials, particularly among elderly participants, is inconsistent and challenges informed clinical decision making.This paper provides a detailed report of AE experienced by elderly participants in a randomized comparative effectiveness trial of SMT and exercise for chronic NP.AE data, consistent with CONSORT recommendations, were collected on elderly participants who received 12 weeks of SMT with home exercise, supervised plus home exercise, or home exercise alone. Standardized questions were asked at each treatment; participants were additionally encouraged to report AE as they occurred. Qualitative interviews documented participants' experiences with AE. Descriptive statistics and content analysis were used to categorize and report these data.Compliance was high among the 241 randomized participants. Non-serious AE were reported by 130/194 participants. AE were reported by three times as many participants in supervised plus home exercise, and nearly twice as many as in SMT with home exercise, as in home exercise alone. The majority of AE were musculoskeletal in nature; several participants associated AE with specific exercises. One incapacitating AE occurred when a participant fell during supervised exercise session and fractured their arm. One serious adverse event of unknown relationship occurred to an individual who died from an aneurysm while at home. Eight serious, non-related AE also occurred.Musculoskeletal AE were common among elderly participants receiving SMT and exercise interventions for NP. As such, they should be expected and discussed when developing care plans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-341
Number of pages7
JournalManual Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Adverse events
  • Elderly
  • Exercise
  • Spinal manipulation


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