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Are Chiropractic Neck Pain Adjustments Safe & When Should I Go To A Chiropractor For Neck Pain?

A chiropractic adjustment refers to the procedure where a chiropractor applies controlled and sudden force to your spinal joint. In many occasions, the aim of chiropractic adjustments is to help with pain relief – neck or back pain as well as headaches.[1] While it may work for most individuals, in some cases, the patient develops certain complications. One of the adjustment technique chiropractors uses if known as cervical neck manipulation, has raised concern as it can cause serious injury. Stroke is the major concern of chiropractic adjustments in cases where the procedure goes wrong.[2]

Are Chiropractic Neck Pain Adjustments Safe?

Are Chiropractic Neck Pain Adjustments Safe?

There are two sides to chiropractic neck adjustments, i.e. the good and the bad. Basically, chiropractic adjustments or neck manipulations are considered safe. However, in some instances, it might not be the safest option of treating neck pain. The greatest risk of these procedures is stroke as a result of vertebral artery dissection after neck manipulation. Although this risk is statistically low, its severity outweighs the benefit of pain relief.

In a review on cervical spine manipulation and mobilization (1996), it was discovered that only 11.1% of cervical spine manipulations are appropriate. In addition to that, stroke was 1.46 times prominent in one million neck adjustments. The safety and unsafety aspect of chiropractic neck adjustments is also dependent on who performs the procedure. The specialists in this mode of treatment are referred to as chiropractors.[1] [3]

Other complications of chiropractic neck adjustments include; a herniated disk and compression of nerves. In cases where an individual has an existing complication such as severe osteoporosis, spine cancer, bone abnormality in the upper neck region, and numbness/tingling in arms/legs, any form of spine manipulations should not be considered.[4]

When Should You Go For A Chiropractic Neck Adjustment If You Have A Neck Pain?

Not all neck pains are worth a visit to the chiropractor. Occasionally, you may wake up with a stiff neck and it really hurts to turn your head. Such kind of neck pain will subside within a few days and you can go on with life normally. But then again, if you have a constant neck pain that does not seem to go away, then you might want to consider seeing a specialist for a way forward. If you experience any of the below symptoms, it is wise to go see a chiropractor as soon as possible.

  • Constant neck pain or stiffness that is persistent, day in day out. Also, if the neck pain is worse when you wake up in the morning but improves as the day goes by.
  • Pain while moving your head in any direction.
  • If you need to take pain medication to get through the day, and the neck pain is accompanied by a long-lasting headache.
  • You’re worried there is an underlying cause for your neck pain.
  • Neck pain after a car accident.
  • The neck pain is worse when you wake up in the morning but improves as the day goes by.

In addition to that, if you have tried various home remedies – massage, heat/cold packs therapy, adopting a good posture, and nothing seems to work, your neck pains may be worse than you expected and may need to seek professional help.


Neck pains are not an every day common phenomena, and in less serious cases, the pain will go away within a few days. If your neck pain persists for more than a week, then it is likely that you will need treatment to help alleviate it. Chiropractors are specialists in neck pain chiropractic adjustments, which helps in relieving the pain. Chiropractic adjustments are safe non-invasive procedures that involve spinal joint manipulation. However, in some occasions, it might be a bad idea, especially when complications are likely, or already have complications such as severe osteoporosis, and numbness/tingling in arms/legs, to mention a few.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 1, 2019

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