Neck Pain and Chiropractic Care

Once in a while, a patient will come into my office concerned about getting an adjustment on their neck. So I decided to write this blog post to answer some questions that you may have. First and foremost, every single patient that I treat will get a comprehensive exam that I use to determine whether they will be a good candidate for chiropractic care. A neck adjustment is a precise procedure, generally applied by hand. It has been shown to improve joint mobility in the neck, restoring range of motion and reducing muscle tightness, thereby relieving pressure and tension.

I am sure many of you have heard that getting your neck adjusted may be risky. Unfortunately much of the information out there is false! Many studies on the incidence of complications are flawed or lack credibility. And many times, people are just not informed and make assumptions. There are, however, recent studies that provide a more careful and complete consideration of the safety of a neck adjustment. In 2001, a study concluded that the risk of stroke following a neck adjustment is one in 2 million patients(1), while another study reports that the risk is much less at on in 5 million patients(2). These estimates are far below the risks commonly associated with many other medical and pharmaceutical interventions(3).

To put this number in perspective consider the following:

Strokes from birth control pills = 1 in 24, 000 persons(4)
Fatalities caused by NSAIDS AKA anti-inflammatories (Aspirin, Naproxen, Ibuprofen, Motrin) = 1 in 12,000 persons(5)
Fatalities associated with neck surgery = 1 in 145 surgeries(6)

As you can see, the risk of stroke in association with neck adjustment is exceedingly rare. There are many benefits from getting a neck adjustment ranging from relief of neck pain, headaches and migraines, dizziness and vertigo and arm and hand symptoms to name a few. Once you have experienced the benefits of getting adjusted, you will wonder why you waited so long!

1. Terrett AG. Current Concepts in Vertebrobasilar Complications following Spinal Manipulation. Des Moines, Iowa: National Chiropractic Mutual Insurance Company, 2001.
2. Haldeman S, Carey P, Townsend P, Papadopoulos C. Arterial dissections following cervical manipulation: the chiropractic experience. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2001; 165(7): 905-906.
3. Rothwell DM, Bondy SJ, Williams JI. Chiropractic manipulation and stroke: a population-based, case-controlled study. Stroke 2001; 32(5): 1054-1060.
4. Gillium LA, Mamidipudi AK, Johnston, SC. Ischemic Stroke Risk with Oral Contraceptives, a Meta-analysis. Journal of the American Medical Association 2000; 284(1).
5. Tramer MR, Moore RA, Reynolds JM, McQuay HJ. Quantitative Estimation of Rare Adverse Events Which Follow A Biological Progression: A New Model Applied To Chronic NSAID Use. Pain 2000; 85: 169-182
6. Rome PL. Perspectives: An Overview of Comparative Considerations of Cerebrovascular Accidents. Chiropractic Journal of Australia 1999; 29(3): 87-102.