- Why is there a popping sound when a joint is adjusted?
- Why would neck adjustment have an effect on anything other than neck pain?
- Does adjustment require stretching & rotating the neck beyond its normal range of motion?
- Is neck adjustment a forceful action?
- Is neck adjustment safe?
- Are all neck adjustment techniques equally safe?
1. Why is there a popping sound when a joint is adjusted?
Adjustment of a joint may result in release of a gas bubble between the joints that makes a popping sound – it’s exactly the same as when you “crack” your knuckles. It is not painful. It is caused by the change of pressure within the joint resulting in gas bubbles being released.
2. Why would neck adjustment have an effect on anything other than neck pain?
Pain or discomfort in one area of the body may be linked functionally to discomfort arising from another area. Consequently, addressing dysfunction in one part of the body may relieve symptoms in another part. If you look at a model of the spine, you can see that the spine is one continuous structure.
Adjustment at various points along the structure may be needed to help reduce biomechanical stresses on other parts of the spine and to relieve discomfort when it is clinically necessary.
The spine is also the protective channel that surrounds the spinal cord. Apart from special nerves originating from the brain and brain stem, all nerves in the body involved with bodily functions such as sensation and motor control emanate from the spinal cord and travel through openings in the spine between the vertebrae. Spinal nerves carry highly complex information that is important for the proper functioning of the human body.
Spinal dysfunction can have an effect on proper functioning of the nervous system causing symptoms in other parts of the body. Adjustment, often in combination with other therapies, may help alleviate symptoms and even address the causative factors.
3. Does neck adjustment require stretching and rotating the neck beyond its normal range of motion?
No, it does not as anyone who has had their neck adjusted will attest. Neck adjustment is done within the normal range of motion and is often performed to improve flexibility and reduce pain. The normal range during treatment is less than what is required to turn your head when backing up a car.
4. Is neck adjustment a forceful action?
No. This has been demonstrated in studies to determine the degree of physical strain applied during adjustment.1
It is skill, not strength, that is needed to conduct a safe, effective adjustment. Chiropractic education in Canada is an intensive four-year program following three years of university undergraduate studies. By the time they graduate, Canadian chiropractors are among the most skilled in the world.
5. Is neck adjustment safe?
No health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects and, on rare occasions, neck adjustment has been associated with stroke and stroke-like symptoms. A Canadian study, published in 2001, concluded that stroke symptoms associated with neck adjustments are so rare that it is difficult to quantify.2
Similarly, a medical review published in 2002 looked at 73 studies of chiropractic care and found no serious complications reported in any of them.3 By way of comparison, neck adjustment is significantly safer than other common treatments for headache, neck and back pain.
6. Are all neck adjustment techniques equally safe?
Canadian chiropractors are taught a variety of adjustment techniques and there is no evidence to suggest that any one technique is less safe than the others. Chiropractic techniques that are applied appropriately are effective and safe.
1. Herzog W, Symons BP, Leonard T. Internal forces sustained by the vertebral artery during spinal manipulative therapy. Journal of Manipulative Physiologics and Therapeutics. Oct. 25 2002 (8): 504-10
2. Rothwell DM, Bondy SJ, Williams JI. Chiropractic Manipulation and Stroke: A Population-Based Case-Control Study. Stroke. May 2001.
3. Meeker WC, Halderman S. Chiropracic: A Profession at the Crossroads of Mainstream and Alternative Medicine. Annals of Internal Medicine. February 5, 2002, Vol. 136, No. 3.