We want to get right to the point on cervical manipulation and address the elephant in the room. People come into Doctors of Chiropractic all of the time scared to death of having their neck adjusted. Why exactly is that?
I have a couple of theories.
- They have seen far too many Chuck Norris/Rambo/Jackie Chan movies where they had no guns or knives on hand so the only way to do away with a foe was to take their head from behind and twist their neck until you heard an awful cracking noise quickly followed by the victim dropping immediately to the ground dead. On behalf of all chiropractors around the world, I’d like to ask that the movie industry not do this ever again, please. Thank you.
- They were told by their uncle’s cousin’s best friend’s barber that going to the chiropractor is dangerous.
- Worst of all, a healthcare professional told them that going to a chiropractor was dangerous but, “Here, take this pill and you should feel better in no time.” Or how about this one: “We’ll just inject this stuff into you that eats the bones up and only helps about 25% of the time, but it’ll be great.”
Let me first say that the human body, in may aspects, is put together very stoutly and when it comes to a chiropractor manipulating joints, they have to be particularly incompetent or really trying to hurt someone to actually do some serious damage.
Of course there are oddities and doctors should be doing their due diligence before performing any procedure to assess for safety but, assuming the condition is non-complicated, chiropractic spinal manipulation is primarily exceedingly safe.
Here are some simple quick fun facts:
- The odds of being struck and killed by lightning is 1 in 174,426 according to the National Safety Council.
- The odds of being told to “Come on down,” on The Price Is Right is 1 in 36!
- The odds of being born with 11 fingers or toes is 1 in 500.
- The odds of dying from a firearms assault is 1 in 113.
- How about this one: the odds of winning an Oscar are 1 in 11,500.
Now that you know these little tidbits, consider this: the RAND Institute estimates that some sort of adverse event that is the direct result of a cervical manipulation happens in about 1 out of every 1-2 million adjustments.
Feeling better yet? You should. What I’m demonstrating here is that there is very little (to zero) risk in going to the chiropractor.
Everyone has heard of malpractice insurance. Most higher level healthcare practitioners have to carry this insurance because we’re all human. When assessing how much malpractice is going to cost for different professionals, you can certainly count on the insurance companies knowing their numbers.
Knowing this fact, ask yourself the following question, “If there were big risks in going to a chiropractor, why does their malpractice insurance cost 1/10th that of the medical doctors?”
Because the risk is so incredibly low. That is exactly why it is so low for Doctors of Chiropractic to carry malpractice insurance.
I would say another reason is that Doctors of Chiropractic are so highly trained.
Chiropractors have the EXACT SAME basic science courses as medical doctors have and are much more adept at reading x-rays than their medical colleagues. Here are some of the classes chiropractors take:
- Cell Biology
- Gross Anatomy (dissection of human cadavers)
- Systemic Anatomy
- Bone Pathology
- Differential Diagnosis
- Embryology, etc…
If you ever perceived Chiropractors as having attended a weekend course or a 6 month course, you have some homework to do. Doctors of Chiropractic go to school for a total of 8 years. They can get out in maybe 7 years if they are fast-tracking it.
Doctors of Chiropractic also must pass 4 parts to the National Board exams and they are NOT easy, folks. Allowing chiropractors to make a living doing, among other things, cervical manipulation is no joke to a chiropractor nor to their licensing boards.
Here in Texas, chiropractors are accountable to our state licensing board and be sure that if a chiropractor has a history of injuring patients, they likely no longer have their license to practice.
What reasons would a chiropractor recommend using cervical manipulation?
The first reason would be simple, non-complicated neck pain. Many people just wake up one day with neck pain that simply will not go away. Some people have been involved in car wrecks and can’t quite get back to normal. There are lots of reasons for neck pain and people around America are turning to chiropractors for help in alleviating it.
Another reason for cervical manipulation would be headaches. Cervicogenic headaches respond VERY WELL to cervical manipulation. In fact, you’d be amazed at some of the recoveries we’ve seen here in our practice. Many of the recoveries have been from life-long, life-altering migraines.
The reasons for cervical manipulation are varied but the effectiveness is consistent. Below we have picked out some excellent quotes from high-level research that has been performed on cervical manipulation effectiveness:
- “Subacute/chronic patients treated with SMT (spinal manipulative therapy) were significantly more likely to report relevant “improvement” compared with CNRI (CERVICAL NERVE ROOT INJECTION) patients(Peterson CK 2016).”
- “Manual therapy (spinal mobilization) is more effective and less costly for treating neck pain than physiotherapy or care by a general practitioner.”(Korthals-de Bos IB 2003)
- “Moderate quality evidence supports this treatment combination (cervical manual therapy combined with exercise) for pain reduction and improved quality of life over manual therapy alone for chronic neck pain; and suggests greater short-term pain reduction when compared to traditional care for acute whiplash(Miller J 2010)”
- “Our best evidence synthesis suggests that therapies involving manual therapy and exercise are more effective than alternative strategies for patients with neck pain(Hurwitz EL 2008)”
- “There was moderate level evidence to support the immediate effectiveness of cervical spine manipulation in treating people with cervical radiculopathy(Zhu L 2015)”
- “In short, manual therapy techniques and manipulation applied to the suboccipital region for four weeks or more showed great improvement and in effectiveness for several aspects that measure the quality of life of a patient having suffered from tension type headaches(Espi-Lopez G 2016)”
- “Six to eight sessions of upper cervical and upper thoracic manipulation were shown to be more effective than mobilization and exercise in patients with cervicogenic headache, and the effects were maintained at 3 months(Dunning J 2016)”
- “Chiropractic is effective in acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain, migraines and headaches originating from the neck, for the treatment of some forms of dizziness, extremity and joint issues, as well as mid back and acute and subacute neck pain(Bronfort G 2010).”
You may also enjoy a different, more thorough article I authored on this topic at: