When 16 studies were reviewed it was concluded that there is little evidence to suggest that spinal manipulation is effective for treating any medical problem.
This has been criticized by osteopaths and chiropractors.
Professor Edzard Ernst and colleagues from the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, Devon, are of the opinion, "There is little evidence that spinal manipulation is effective in the treatment of any medical condition. The findings are of concern because chiropractors and osteopaths are regulated by statute in the UK. Patients and the public at large perceive regulation as proof of the usefulness of treatment.
Previous studies have shown that regulation of chiropractors was followed by a decrease in research activity. The evidence presented here should be seen as a wake-up call to the chiropractic profession. One way forward is more rigorous clinical trials to test the efficacy of spinal manipulation. After all, the treatment is not without risk and chiropractors must demonstrate why it should be a recommendable medical treatment option."
The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) said it was "disappointed" that the article had been published and said the studies reviewed had been carefully selected to reach the conclusion that spinal manipulation could not be recommended.
Mathew Cousins, of the British Osteopathic Association (BOA) said, "Spinal manipulation is a technique we use but it is not the only technique we use. One of the reviews the researchers looked at said that spinal manipulation was as effective as other treatments, such as painkillers and exercise. In this age of patient choice people have the option to choose a treatment that may mean they do not have to take a lot of pills, which can have their own side effects."