The Back Bone’s Connected to the Neck Bone….

Often heard around Halloween, there’s actually a good deal of truth in the children’s song “Dem Bones”.  Many variations of the song exist online, but they all detail the relationship of bones to throughout the body – they’re all connected!



The hip bone’s connected to the back bone

The back bone’s connected to the neck bone,

The neck bone’s connected to the head bone,

Now shake dem skeleton bones!

While saying the back bone is “connected to the neck bone” is a simplistic explanation,   it is biologically accurate to say they are connected.  When there is an issue with one body part, other parts are affected as well.  This can be problematic as it may allow simple aches and pains to snowball into serious issues.  Conversely, knowledge of the specific relationships within the human body can help health care providers treat pain and dysfunction to promote healing.

Much research has been done about the benefits of cervical spine (neck) manipulation for patients with neck pain.  As with any type of medical treatment, there are always some patients who do not respond to a given treatment.  It is possible that for those patients, the answer could be a little further down the spine.

To that end, researchers sought to evaluate the effects of thoracic manipulation (mid-back) on chronic neck pain.  They took 120 patients aged 18-55 and divided them into two groups.  All patients received infrared radiation therapy (IRR) twice a week for 4 weeks, (a total 8 sessions), along with a standard set of educational material.  One group received thoracic manipulation (also twice a week for 4 weeks for a total of 8 treatments) in addition to the IRR and education materials.

Patients’ craniovertebral angle (CV angle), neck pain (Numeric Pain Rating Scale; NPRS), neck disability (Northwick Park Neck Disability Questionnaire; NPQ), health-related quality of life status (SF36 Questionnaire) and neck mobility were assessed.  This was repeated at the end of the 8 sessions, at a 3-month follow-up and again at a 6-month follow-up.

Patients who received thoracic manipulation showed significant progress immediately after the sessions.  They experienced “greater improvement” in pain intensity, CV angle, NPQ, neck flexion and the physical component score of the SF36 questionnaire as compared to their peers who received only IRR and education.  Additionally, the progress continued through the three and six month follow-ups.

Researchers concluded that thoracic manipulation is “effective in reducing neck pain, improving dysfunction and neck posture and neck range of motion (ROM) for patients with chronic mechanical neck pain up to a half-year post-treatment.”

If you or a loved one is experiencing neck pain, schedule an appointment for an exam and consultation with your local chiropractor.  In addition to spinal manipulation, your doctor may recommend other therapeutic modalities, exercises/stretches to target a certain area based on your specific needs.  If you do not have a chiropractor, you can find a TCA member doctor at



The effectiveness of thoracic manipulation on patients with chronic mechanical neck pain – A randomized controlled trial by Herman Mun Cheung Lau, Thomas Tai Wing Chiu, Tai-Hing Lam in Manual Therapy Volume 16, Issue 2, April 2011.  DOI:

“Dem Bones – Children’s Song Lyrics and Sound Clip.”