Effects of Manual Somatic Stimulation on the Autonomic Nervous System and Posture

  • Giovanni Barassi
  • Rosa Grazia Bellomo
  • Camillo Di Giulio
  • Giuseppe Giannuzzo
  • Giuseppe Irace
  • Claudia Barbato
  • Raoul Saggini
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1070)


Low back pain frequently involves a multifactorial etiology and requires medical attention. The aim of the study was to assess the associations among pain, posture, and autonomic nervous system function in patients with low back pain, using neuromuscular manual therapy versus a generic peripheral manual stimulation (back massage therapy). Twenty young patients with low back pain were enrolled into the study. The patients were randomly divided into two groups: treated with neuromuscular manual therapy performed after a specific structural evaluation and treated with back massage therapy. Both groups performed eight sessions of 30 min each, once a week for two months. There were three main time points of the assessment: during the first, the fourth, and the last eighth session. In each of these three sessions, data were collected before onset of session (baseline), 5 min from onset, at end of session, and 5 min after the end. All patients were subjected to stabilometric evaluation and were assessed on a visual analogue scale to quantify postural and pain changes. Tabletop capnography and pulse oximetry were used to monitor autonomic changes. The findings were that the improvement in posture and pain reduction were appreciably better in patients subjected to neuromuscular manual therapy than in those subjected to back massage therapy, with a comparable autonomic response in both groups. In conclusion, the study demonstrates that posture modification was significantly more advantageous in patient treated with neuromuscular manual therapy.


Autonomic nervous system Low back Manual therapy Massage therapy Neuromuscular dysfunction Pain Posture Stabilometry Structural evaluation Trigger point 


Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest in relation to this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG  2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanni Barassi
    • 1
  • Rosa Grazia Bellomo
    • 2
  • Camillo Di Giulio
    • 3
  • Giuseppe Giannuzzo
    • 1
  • Giuseppe Irace
    • 1
  • Claudia Barbato
    • 1
  • Raoul Saggini
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical Oral and Biotechnological Science“Gabriele d’Annunzio” UniversityChieti-PescaraItaly
  2. 2.‘Carlo Bo’-UniversityUrbinoItaly
  3. 3.Department of Neuroscience and Imaging“Gabriele D’Annunzio” UniversityChieti-PescaraItaly

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