Thoracic manipulation is widely used in physical therapy and has been shown to be effective at addressing mechanical neck pain. However, thoracic mobilization may produce similar effects. The purpose of this systematic review was to evaluate the current literature regarding the effectiveness of thoracic manipulation versus mobilization in patients with mechanical neck pain.
Fourteen studies meeting the inclusion criteria were analyzed using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale and the grade approach.
The 14 included studies showed positive outcomes on cervical pain levels, range of motion, and/or disability with the use ofthoracic manipulation or mobilization. There was a paucity of literature directly comparing thoracic manipulation and mobilization.
Current limitations in the body of research, specifically regarding the use of thoracic mobilization, limit the recommendation of its use compared to thoracic manipulation for patients with mechanical neck pain.
There is, however, a significant amount of evidence, although of varied quality, for the short-term benefits of thoracic manipulation in treating patients with this condition. Further high quality research is necessary to determine which technique is more effective in treating patients with mechanical neck pain.