Neck pain affects more than 70% of the world’s population at some point in their lives, and it’s a common reason many people seek help from a medical expert. Neck-related issues range from mildly irritating to severely debilitating, and of the best treatments is getting a neck adjustment or cervical manipulation.
It’s an all-natural procedure that applies gentle pressure on neck joints through precise hand techniques, improving the spine’s mobility and increasing movement of its adjoining muscles, helping restore optimal range of motion. After an adjustment, patients will usually notice and feel an improved ability to tilt their heads, reduced pain, soreness, and stiffness.
Regarding the procedure’s overall safety, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) says that neck manipulations and adjustments are ‘remarkably safe’ and can be an excellent alternative treatment to the usual pain medication.
With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about the procedure, its benefits, side effects, different types, and issues it can treat.
Benefits and Potential Side Effects
A neck adjustment is an all-natural alternative to drugs and surgery and is only provided by licensed professional chiropractors, performing them safely and efficiently. It’s a physical manipulation of your neck joints involving special instruments and tractional tables or merely your neck and the professional’s hands, depending on your condition.
These professionals will apply their knowledge and hands-on clinical experience to manipulate or adjust your cervical vertebrae in careful, strategic, and safe ways during each session.
They typically apply controlled forces to certain parts of your neck, providing the following benefits:
- Relieve excess pressure and tension on the neck muscles
- Reduce muscle swelling or inflammation
- Fully restore the neck’s range of motion
Meanwhile, like any other medical practice, neck manipulations come with risks. However, these are often mild and rare. The most common side effect is soreness and stiffness in the neck, as the neck muscles recover from the sudden movements, similar to the sensation you feel after a good exercise session.
Other ‘instant’ complications that may happen like arterial injuries are the results of high-velocity neck movements and will likely occur in the car or shower.
Types of Neck Adjustments
There are several gentle forms of neck manipulation and adjustment that most professionals use nowadays than traditional ‘cracking’ techniques.
Here are the three types of cervical manipulation:
In this technique, the patient is usually lying on their back. Meanwhile, a chiropractor manually moves their cervical vertebra from left to right and the other way around, alternating between each side following a figure ‘8’ movement. Professionals usually apply different degrees of moving the head forward, backward, and sideways in rotation. Generally, this type of manipulation is smooth and involves no thrusting, efficiently reducing fixation or restricted areas between the patient’s cervical spinal segments.
Neck Manual Traction
In this type of cervical adjustment, the patient usually lies face up or sitting upright. The professional will then gently pull on their neck, stretching the cervical vertebra using varying the flexion and extension angle, based on the patient’s comfort. Simultaneously, they search for the correct angle to most efficiently mitigate the tightness in the neck.
Neck or Cervical “Drop” Techniques
In this method, the patient should be lying prone or lying on their sides in a specialized table where the head drop-piece gets lifted into a locked position. The professional will then place their hands or fingers over the spinal segment needing adjustment using a medium to high velocity and low amplitude thrust until the table’s locked position gets released or drops. The goal of this treatment is to reduce fixation and restricted motion in the patient’s neck.
Issues Addressed By Neck Adjustments
Neck manipulations and adjustments can address several causes of neck pain, and though it’s not the best solution for all types of neck problems, they’re considered the ‘first line’ of treatment for many.
Here are the two most common neck issues addressed by neck adjustments:
Mechanical Neck Pain
This type of ‘neck pain‘ originates from the pain generated in the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joint capsules. It’s the most common cause of neck pain and stiffness. Most neck tissues get simultaneously injured, causing pain locally and at a distance away from the affected area.
An example of mechanical neck pain is facet joint issues, where the facets located in the back of your neck get strained or injured, resulting in localized and referred pain a few distances away. It may affect your shoulder blades, upper back, and arms.
Cervical Disc Problems
Ruptures or tears may develop in your cervical disc, or the disc’s nucleus may herniate out of the annulus, trapping or pinching the nerve root as it exits the vertebra—resulting in debilitating pain. This issue can frequently refer to pain down the arms and into the hands, affecting the 4th and 5th regions alongside the hand and fingers, depending on which nerve roots get damaged.
In rare events, if the disc’s nucleus herniates backward instead of its normal outward motion, it may compress your spinal cord, bringing the painful symptoms down to your legs. Additionally, it may also affect bladder and bowel functions, and when this happens, you’ll likely get referred to an orthopedic surgeon for surgery.
However, with quick thinking and fast action, these two neck issues can be treated with an all-natural cervical manipulation, providing long-term relief. Overall, neck adjustments are relatively safer than your traditional medical treatment options because it doesn’t involve any intake of medications, and can fully treat the cause of your pain, and not merely mask the source of your symptoms.
If you’re looking for a skilled and qualified chiropractor to help you deal with your neck pain, Dr. Norman O’Dell commits himself to the safety and satisfaction of his patients. He aims to help you achieve your personal wellness goals with all-natural and low-risk treatment techniques ideal for neck, shoulder, and back pain.
If you’re experiencing neck pain due to an injury or medical condition, Dr. Norman O’Dell is the chiropractor for you, providing safe and precise neck adjustments and other services.