In a U.K. survey of more than 19,700 patients who underwent more than 50,000 cervical spine manipulations, a team of researchers have concluded that your risk of having a serious adverse event from "getting your neck cracked," is slim to none.
The manipulation technique at the focus of this safety study was defined as the application of high-velocity/low-amplitude or mechanically assisted thrust to the cervical spine. Patients were followed, and any adverse symptoms recorded immediately, and up to seven days after treatment.
There were no reports of serious adverse events, which translates to an estimated risk of, at worst, one per 10,000 treatments.
Minor side effects, occurring either immediately after, or within seven days after treatment, were slightly more common. Some of the side effects included:
Fainting, dizziness, light-headedness in, at worst, 16 per 1,000 treatments
Headache in, at worst, 4 per 100 treatments
Numbness or tingling in upper limbs in, at worst, 15 per 1,000 treatments
Spine October 1, 2007, 32(21):2375-2378
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
I am an avid believer in the chiropractic philosophy, which places a strong emphasis on your body's innate healing wisdom and far less reliance on band-aids like drugs and surgery.
Chiropractic, osteopathic, and naturopathic physicians receive extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate healthcare training, which typically lasts from 4-6 years. Due to their comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management, numerous sources of evidence have shown that chiropractic management is much safer, and less expensive, than allopathic medical treatments, particularly for low-back pain.
One such study, published in 1993, found that chiropractic management of low-back pain is superior to allopathic medical management in terms of greater safety, greater effectiveness, and reduced cost, concluding:
"There would be highly significant cost savings if more management of LBP (low-back pain) was transferred from medical physicians to chiropractors."
Additionally, researchers have also found that chiropractic adjustments affect the chemistry of biological processes on a cellular level! And that chiropractic care can affect the basic physiological processes that influence oxidative stress and DNA repair. So there's a whole lot more to chiropractic care than just whipping bones into place.
Like many other traditional healing methods, such as naturopathic medicine and Chinese medicine, chiropractic promotes the idea that there are certain phenomena, including spinal misalignment, which create imbalances in the normal function of your body.
These imbalances, if left in place for too long, can result in pathology of one sort or another. To manifest true healing from a disease, traditional medicine says that these imbalances must be corrected. Once this is accomplished, your body will typically heal itself. I have seen examples of this process thousands of times in my practice, using a number of different therapies, either alone or in combination, that also help to re-establish balance in the body.
One of the most powerful methods I know of to balance the function of your body involves eating healthy foods that are right for your nutritional type. When my patients implement such changes, not only do their symptoms improve, but it is also easy to find objective proof that their bodies are changing for the better.
Additionally, many researchers believe that lower back pain is often caused by psychological factors, such as an underlying emotional issue.
Dr. John Sarno also believes this to be true (as do I). He is a psychiatrist who uses mind-body techniques to treat low back patients with the worst type of back pain. His specialty is those who have already had surgery for low back pain and still have it. To me this is one tough group of patients, yet he has a greater than 80 percent success rate using techniques like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
With such successful alternatives available, there are few good reasons to turn to pharmaceutical or surgical band-aids that do nothing to treat the underlying causes of your pain, but which will undoubtedly cause you additional harm in the process.