A systematic review to determine the evidence to support the use of flexion distraction chiropractic technique
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Flexion distraction chiropractic technique (FDCT) is a commonly used manual therapy technique which is purported to address various clinical pain syndromes. However, it lacks the credibility of appropriate evidence-based guidelines. An analysis of the literature would be able to inform the development of guidelines. Objectives: The aim of this systematic review was to determine the evidence to support the use of FDCT in clinical practice. Data sources: A systematic review of PubMed and Summons was conducted, using the following search terms: chiropractic, flexion distraction, protocol and / or technique. Study selection: All electronic or paper, English articles, which possessed the required key indexing terms and represented randomised and non-randomised controlled study designs were included. Data extraction: Blinded review of the articles was conducted by three independent reviewers utilising the PEDro (for randomised controlled trials) and NOS for (non-randomised controlled trials). This allowed the methodological rigour of the article to be ranked. This ranking was compared to a critical appraisal of the article in order to achieve an overall decision with regards to the contribution of the article to the level of evidence for FDCT. Data synthesis: 18 review outcomes were aggregated around four clinical categories; two articles each on neck pain, chronic pelvic pain, and physiological outcomes and the remaining twelve on low back pain. There was agreement that the evidence for pelvic pain and physiological function was limited to no evidence and limited respectively. Conflicting evidence existed for neck and low back pain (single and multimodal treatment) with limited and moderate evidence respectively. Conclusion: FDCT is clinically advocated for many conditions. The evidence provided in this review indicates that practitioners should be guarded in their use of FDCT, as the evidence to its widespread use is limited to only those conditions noted in this review. Therefore, further high quality and rigorous studies are required to develop appropriate treatment guidelines for use by practitioners to adequately provide evidence based care in clinical practice.