The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of chiropractic manipulative treatment on paraspinal cutaneous temperature (PCT) for subjects with chronic low back pain and compare these PCT findings to subjects without chronic low back pain.


Two groups were created, a symptomatic treatment group (subjects with chronic low back pain, n = 11, 7 males, 4 females) and an asymptomatic, nontreatment group (asymptomatic subjects, n = 10, 6 males, 4 females). Outcomes included the modified Oswestry questionnaire and PCT measurements in the prone position after an 8-minute acclimation period. The treatment group received 9 chiropractic spinal instrument-based manipulative treatments over 2 weeks. Reevaluation was done 2 weeks after the initial evaluation for both groups.


The preintervention Oswestry results (29.8% ± 11.8%) for the treatment group were higher than the asymptomatic group (10.2% ± 10.6%). The postintervention Oswestry results for the treatment group were 14.20 % ± 11.5%. The resulting Cohen’s effect size of the spinal manipulation on the Oswestry evaluation is 0.58. The preintervention PCT showed higher temperature for the nontreatment group compared with the treatment group. Comparing the levels associated with low back pain, the nontreatment group PCT was stable, varying from 0.01°C to 0.02°C, whereas the treatment group PCT varied from 0.10°C to 0.18°C. The treatment group postintervention PCT showed an increase in temperature after the 9 visits; however, this did not reach the values of the asymptomatic group.


The PCT readings for subjects with chronic low back pain were lower than the asymptomatic, nontreatment group. The PCT temperature of the treatment group increased after 9 treatments.

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2013 Jan;36(1):44-50. [PMID:23380213]

Author information: Roy RA, Boucher JP, Comtois AS. Department of Kinanthropology, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec, Canada.