Spinal manipulation and mobilisation in the treatment of infants, children, and adolescents: a systematic scoping review

Nikki Milne*, Lauren Longeri, Anokhi Patel, Jan Pool, Kenneth Olson, Annalie Basson, Anita R. Gross

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: To i) identify and map the available evidence regarding effectiveness and harms of spinal manipulation and mobilisation for infants, children and adolescents with a broad range of conditions; ii) identify and synthesise policies, regulations, position statements and practice guidelines informing their clinical use. Design: Systematic scoping review, utilising four electronic databases (PubMed, Embase, CINHAL and Cochrane) and grey literature from root to 4th February 2021. Participants: Infants, children and adolescents (birth to < 18 years) with any childhood disorder/condition. Intervention: Spinal manipulation and mobilisation Outcome measures: Outcomes relating to common childhood conditions were explored. Method: Two reviewers (A.P., L.L.) independently screened and selected studies, extracted key findings and assessed methodological quality of included papers using Joanna Briggs Institute Checklist for Systematic Reviews and Research Synthesis, Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Checklist for Text and Opinion Papers, Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool and International Centre for Allied Health Evidence Guideline Quality Checklist. A descriptive synthesis of reported findings was undertaken using a levels of evidence approach. Results: Eighty-seven articles were included. Methodological quality of articles varied. Spinal manipulation and mobilisation are being utilised clinically by a variety of health professionals to manage paediatric populations with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), back/neck pain, breastfeeding difficulties, cerebral palsy (CP), dysfunctional voiding, excessive crying, headaches, infantile colic, kinetic imbalances due to suboccipital strain (KISS), nocturnal enuresis, otitis media, torticollis and plagiocephaly. The descriptive synthesis revealed: no evidence to explicitly support the effectiveness of spinal manipulation or mobilisation for any condition in paediatric populations. Mild transient symptoms were commonly described in randomised controlled trials and on occasion, moderate-to-severe adverse events were reported in systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials and other lower quality studies. There was strong to very strong evidence for ‘no significant effect’ of spinal manipulation for managing asthma (pulmonary function), headache and nocturnal enuresis, and inconclusive or insufficient evidence for all other conditions explored. There is insufficient evidence to draw conclusions regarding spinal mobilisation to treat paediatric populations with any condition. Conclusion: Whilst some individual high-quality studies demonstrate positive results for some conditions, our descriptive synthesis of the collective findings does not provide support for spinal manipulation or mobilisation in paediatric populations for any condition. Increased reporting of adverse events is required to determine true risks. Randomised controlled trials examining effectiveness of spinal manipulation and mobilisation in paediatric populations are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number721
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Spinal manipulation and mobilisation in the treatment of infants, children, and adolescents: a systematic scoping review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this