How Safe is a Neck Adjustment?
This past summer, a woman in Georgia was hospitalized due to damages to the vertebral artery after a "neck adjustment" by a chiropractor. As a PT who loves treating neck, this caught my attention and I just want to investigate how safe is “neck adjustment”.
A research article published by Canadian Medical Association Journal estimated the chance of that happening is 1/8.06 million chiropractic office visits. Other statistics have shown anywhere from 1 in 0.5-1 million. To put into perspective, I have listed other statistics for you to contemplate:
Being ambidextrous: 1 in 100
Being audited by the IRS: 1 in 160
Born with 11 fingers/toes: 1 in 500
Being struck by lightning: 1 in 114,195
Dying in a plane crash: 1 in 205,552
Getting attacked by a shark: 1 in 3.7 million
Hospitalized after a “neck adjustment”: 1 in 0.5 to 8.06 million
Winning the mega millions jackpot: 1 in 302.6 million
I guess the chance of getting seriously hurt by a “neck adjustment” is anywhere between getting struck by lighting and winning the lottery. So is it safe? Would you do it? Let me know in the comments below.
(Source: The Internet)
Difficulty turning your head?
The very top two segments of your neck, C1 and C2, is responsible for approximately 50% of neck turning. When you have neck pain, turning is often a painful motion to perform, making some activities challenging such as driving, grocery shopping, or playing sports. By directly addressing C1-C2, you can almost always feel immediate pain relief and increase in overall neck range of motion.
The anatomy of C1 and C2 are delicate as there are a lot of sensitive structures at this region. Because of that, getting a high velocity manipulation at this region is generally advised against in the world of physical therapy. A better hands-on treatment for this region is muscle energy technique (MET). It is a fancy term for manipulating the stiff joints with your own muscular force. Other treatments such as self-corrective exercise or dry needling can also be helpful.
Unless there is a fracture or chronic instability, surgical fusion should be the last resort. As you can imagine, you will lose about half of your ability to turn your head for the rest of your life. The quality of life will be greatly compromised, especially if you are young.
September 17th, 2022
How do you know if your neck pain is the result of a disc herniation? Your age can give you a clue. Intervertebral discs are hydrophillic, meaning it contains mostly water. The amount of water content peaks around mid 20's, and starts to decline after each decade. More water creates more movements, and the disc is more likely to move out of place, aka disc herniation. Therefore, younger people are actually more prone to a disc herniation. If you have Medicare, the chance of you having a disc herniation is not impossible, but slim.
Dr. Jack Pan, PT, DPT, MTC
Information to help you manage your symptoms, feel better, and get back to the activities that you love to do