Is neck cracking dangerous?

Is Neck Cracking by Chiropractor Dangerous?

Not all chiropractors “crack” the neck. While it is true that most chiropractors employ adjustment techniques that produce a “pop” , when an adjustment is preformed there are many techniques, more specifically, upper cervical techniques, that do not have cracking, twisting, or pulling involved during the adjustment.

The crack noise that is heard with traditional chiropractic is NOT dangerous and is nitrogen gas that escapes the joint capsule during a chiropractic adjustment.  While we are proponents of upper cervical techniques, especially the Blair technique, we do recognize that traditional chiropractic is very safe.

There have been several large scale studies involving traditional chiropractic technique that show the safety of the procedure for the general population. 

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Can Chiropractic Neck Adjustments Cause a Stroke?

Media headlines are often spread news about the dangers of stroke associated with cervical spine adjustment.

Dr. Scott Haldeman MD/DC published research reviewing malpractice claims over a 10 year period for ALL 4500 chiropractors in practice in Canada following a fear mongering campaign associating stroke and chiropractic adjustment. This is what the research found:

The likelihood that a chiropractor will be made aware of an arterial dissection following cervical manipulation is approximately

  • 1 per 8.06 million office visits, 
  • 1 per 5.85 million cervical manipulations, 
  • 1 per 1,430 chiropractic practice years and 
  • 1 per 48 chiropractic practice careers.

The risk is typically associated with patients who have an underlying weakness in the vertebral artery wall that is then affected by the rotatory motion involved in some chiropractic procedures. If a patient has this underlying risk factor they can search out upper cervical techniques, such as BLAIR, orthospinology, atlas orthogonal or other upper cervical procedures because these techniques do NOT employ twisting, popping, or pulling in their adjusting technique.

Can chiropractic hurt your neck?

The goal of chiropractic is to restore normal joint motion that has been lost due to spinal trauma. Whiplash trauma, sports injuries, and other neck injuries can damage the ligaments and soft tissue that support normal joint motion. When injury occurs, joint motion is lost,  the muscles tighten and the posture becomes unbalanced.

Chiropractors are well trained at detecting these spinal misalignments and are also trained to restore motion so the nervous system can function better. Often times after a patient is corrected they will experience transitory neck stiffness or pain as the spinal muscles re adapt to increased motion produced by the adjustment.

In rare instances if proper imaging and corrective procedures are not followed injury can occur in the wrong hands, but is rare.  Anyone suffering with neck problems should see a specialist chiropractor who focuses his/her attention on the upper cervical spine.

These doctors are known as upper cervical chiropractors who are trained in adjustic procedures that do not use twisting, popping, or pulling of the spine and focus all their attention on the upper cervical spine.

What are the symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis?

Cervical stenosis can be caused by three different mechanisms:

  1. Disc bulge which narrows the central canal or intervertebral forsaken (IVF).
  2. Degeneration of the vertebrae which the body subsequently builds more bone in the are to increase strength which can narrow the exit of the spinal nerve (IVF)
  3. Congenital narrowing that encroaches the spinal cord or IVF

Stenosis can sometimes be recognized by the following symptoms:

  • Can have no symptoms, but people may experience:
  • Pain areas: in the back, leg, or legs, thighs, and buttocks that worsens with standing
  • Pain circumstances: can occur in the leg while exercising
  • Muscular: abnormality walking, cramping, or muscle weakness
  • Sensory: leg numbness, pins and needles, or reduced sensation of touch

Anyone suffering with stenosis should first have an MRI to understand the extent to which they have the condition and then they should consult an upper cervical chiropractor to ensure the central nervous system is functioning optimally.

What does an MRI/CBCT scan of the cervical spine show?

MRI is a type of imaging that shows soft tissues of the body that other types of imaging such as Xray are unable to view. Traditionally, MRI is taken to asses ligament tears, disc bulges, tumors in the soft tissue and other soft tissue problems. CBCT is a new imaging technology used first by dentist for implant surgeries but recently has been adopted by upper cervical chiropractors because of its superior image quality.

Cbct has 3-d reconstruction technology that allows upper cervical chiropractors to view each individual joint of the neck to ascertain spinal misalignment, direction, and magnitude. CBCT is similar to an MRI in that it’s 3-d and the practitioner is able to take slices at any angle and thickness to cross check spinal misalignment direction.

How is cervical spine arthritis treated?

The answer to this question is dependent upon what type of health professional you visit. Mainstream medicine treats arthritis symptoms with anti inflammatory and pain killing medication. While this has its place it is not a sustainable treatment method for anyone who is trying to build or sustain long term health.  These types of medications toxify the liver, destroy the gut lining and should be used for a small time period until you can find a natural solution to your spinal arthritis condition.

One of the best options to combat spinal arthritis is Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic care. This form of care aims at reducing spinal cord irritation by correcting spinal misalignments at the most critical area of human anatomy, the upper neck. The brainstem, located inside of the atlas and axis, is responsible for healing and optimum function of the body.

If the upper neck is properly corrected it allows the central nervous system to function better, the posture to improve, muscle symmetry to return, and decrease inflammation in the body.  Blair Upper Cervical chiropractic care has been shown to be a proven natural method to decrease pain and help spinal arthritis sufferers find natural relief.

Is chiropractic neck manipulation safe?

Chiropractic neck manipulation is exceedingly safe in the hands of a well trained upper cervical chiropractor. In fact in 2013 Eriksen, Rochester published a study showing the efficacy and safety of upper cervical chiropractic procedures. Because the upper cervical procedures involve no twisting, popping, or pulling of the neck they are exceedingly safe especially for those that are worried about dissection of the vertebral artery.

Mainstream chiropractic procedures that use rotatory manipulation techniques while more aggressive than upper cervical procedures are still exceedingly safe. Dr. Scott Haldeman M.D./ D.C. published a study that reviewed 10 years of malpractice claims of over 4500 chiropractors and found the following risk profile for cerebrovascular incidents:

The likelihood that a chiropractor will be made aware of an arterial dissection following cervical manipulation is approximately

  • 1 per 8.03 million office visits, 
  • 1 per 5.35 million cervical manipulations, 
  • 1 per 1,400 chiropractic practice years and 
  • 1 per 58 chiropractic practice careers.

While all health care procedures have risks, chiropractic is natural, exceedingly safe, and effective at optimizing health and function of those who seek it out as a health care procedure.