Neck Adjustments: Answers to your top 4 questions!

neck adjustment

As a practicing Chiropractor for 7 years, I have been asked a lot of questions over the years. Today, I want to talk about some of those questions regarding neck adjustments.

What is an adjustment?

According to the American Chiropractic Association, “The chiropractic physician typically uses his or her hands–or an instrument–to manipulate the joints of the body, particularly the spine, in order to restore or enhance joint function.” When a chiropractor adjusts the neck, it may look like he or she is just aggressively rotating it, but if you look closely, you can see that the exact motion is nothing like that. Actually, for a typical neck adjustment, the motion is aimed at a specific joint in one direction.

What is that sound?

Sometimes with an adjustment a cracking sound is heard. So, what is that noise? According the ACA “Adjustment (or manipulation) of a joint may result in the release of a gas bubble between the joints, which makes a popping sound.” It is the same sound that you might hear when popping your knuckles!

Is “cracking” your own neck safe?

We have all been there, sitting at the computer feeling that stiffness in our necks. When you roll your neck and it cracks, you feel better. As mentioned above, that cracking is a release of joint pressure; however, repeated cracking stretches ligaments (ligaments connect bone to bone). This stretching can lead to an increased instability of your neck–which leads to more stiffness and more soreness. It is a vicious repeating cycle that I’ve seen many times. When self mobilizing (aka, cracking your own neck), you typically do not “crack” the joints that actually need it. Generally, you will end up “cracking” the ones that already move too much, thus increasing the instability! As chiropractors we adjust the joints that don’t move enough, helping to restore healthy motion and decrease pain.

Is there any link to cervical adjusting and stroke?

According the article “Risk of Vertebrobasilar Stroke and Chiropractic Care” in The Spine Journal, “the risk of VBA stroke associated with a visit to a chiropractor’s office appears to be no different than the risk of VBA stroke following a visit to the office of a primary care physician.” Also, on a purely objective level, when it comes to malpractice premiums, Chiropractors have substantially lower premiums than medical doctors meaning that the treatment provided by chiropractors is incredibly safe.

If you have further questions please contact any of our Sport and Spine locations. Thank you for taking the time to read this post and thank you again for your diligence in your own health care.

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Dr. Meghan Magner

Written By Dr. Meghan Magner, Clinic Director, Mclean, VA

References:

1. American Chiropractic Association. https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/Why-Choose-Chiropractic/Chiropractic-Frequently-Asked-Questions

2. Risk of Vertebrobasilar Stroke and Chiropractic Care Results of a Population-Based Case-Control and Case-Crossover Study. SPINE Volume 33, Number 4S, pp S176–S183

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