Spine biomechanics in osteoporotic thoracic vertebrae: investigating the safety of manual therapy

People with spinal osteoporosis often suffer back pain that cannot be relieved by exercise or medication. Physiotherapists with advanced training can use manual spinal joint mobilization techniques, also called manual therapy, to relieve the pain. However, there are questions about how safe the therapy is and whether the techniques pose a risk of causing fractures. Meena Sran is using bioengineering techniques to determine if manual therapy creates a risk of fracture in people with spinal osteoporosis. Besides assessing the spine’s ability to resist fracture during manual therapy by determining the pressure required to fracture vertebrae, she is also examining whether or not x-rays and CT scans can detect these fractures. The study will provide insights into the safety of manual therapy and ultimately help improve treatment of back pain in older adults with spinal osteoporosis.