Low Back Pain

We have a number of areas of research activity under this umbrella including:


Visceral / Somatic mimicry syndrome and manipulation

The types of low back pain seen by chiropractors in South Wales.

Interdisciplinary referral patterns for back pain


The relative efficacy of chiropractic treatment of chronic low back pain in an NHS hospital setting: completed pilot published, data analysis of main study under way.

Do magnets affect pain and disability in chronic low back pain? pilot published. considering options for main trial.

Is there a sub-class of gastro-oesphageal reflux disorder sufferer who can benefit from chiropractic management? pilot published main trial underway.


Work under development involves attempting to resolve the issue of detection of visceral disease processes using relative differences in muscle activation. This area of endeavour has been centre of controversy in both chiropractic and osteopathic research since their initiation in the late 19th century. the first of these studies is considering whether changes in neck muscle stiffness can be detected in patients who have constant auditory input (tinnitus) either unilaterally or bilaterally. We are collaborating in this study, with the Audiology department of the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, following approval of the Hosptial and medical ethics committees.

A study into the categorisation of seating profiles of wheelchair patients is being started in collaboration with members of the faculty of advanced technology and Rookwood hospital, Cardiff. This work has been fortunate enough to attract URIS funding (£9960).


The main research emphasis in this area is that of conditions that can present as biomechanical problems but have a more serious underlying cause. This area is important to all clinicans who have a Primary Contact role. Our current emphasis is on the potential for patients to present who have a stroke in progress and how to detect these and refer appropriately.

Field JR, Newell D, McCarthy PW Preliminary study into the components of the fear-avoidance model of LBP: change after an initial chiropractic visit and influence on outcome. Chiropr Osteopat. 2010 Jul 30; 18:21.

Gkolfinopoulos V. Byfield D. McCarthy PW. A survey of low back pain patients in chiropractic practices in South Wales. European Journal of Chiropractic. 2003; 49(3): 289-94

Langford J. McCarthy PW. Randomised controlled clinical trial of magnet use in chronic low back pain; a pilot study. Clinical Chiropractic. 2005; 8 (1): 13-9.

McCarthy PW.The placebo in studies of magnetism

Murphy DR, Byfield D, McCarthy P, Humphreys K, Gregory AA, Rochon R. Interexaminer reliability of the hip extension test for suspected impaired motor control of the lumbar spine. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2006; 29(5):374-7.

Padayachy K,. Vawda G.H M , Shaik J, McCarthy PW The immediate effect of low back manipulation on serum cortisol levels in adult males with mechanical low back pain. Clinical Chiropractic 2010 13; (4), 246-52.

Byfield D, McCarthy, PW, Cascioli V, Webster M & Heusch AI (2006) The posterior joint syndromes: zygapophyseal and sacroiliac joints. In Low Back Syndromes, integrated clinical management, Ed C Morris. McGraw-Hill, New Jersey USA book chapter