Atlas Health - Can Brisbane Chiropractic Hurt Your Neck?

Posted in Neck Pain Disorders on Nov 8, 2019

Atlas Health - Can Brisbane Chiropractic Hurt Your Neck?

What is The Brisbane Atlas Health Chiropractic Difference?

When many people think of a chiropractor, they think of one of three things (in no particular order):

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  •  Neck Pain

  •  Back Pain

  •  Cracking

But what if I told you that the original practice of chiropractic was NOT spinal manipulation.

… What?!

The idea of using spinal manipulation for the treatment of neck pain, back pain, etc has essentially become synonymous with chiropractic.

However, many of the original forms of chiropractic were NOT performed for the purpose of cracking the joints.

The purpose was to make a CORRECTION to the alignment and motion of the joints. And although that MAY involve a crack, it often does not!

At its core, this is the approach that we prefer at Brisbane Atlas Health Chiropractic: the ability to correct the alignment of the joints in your neck WITHOUT CRACKING, twisting or spinal manipulation - in order to help with body function.

Where did “Cervical Manipulation” come from?

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Critics and even allies of Brisbane Atlas Health chiropractic often picture the idea of a “cervical manipulation” as a person 1) lying on their back, on their front or seated 2) turning or tilting the head to one side, and then 3) stretching the neck quickly, which causes the joints to release and make a cracking noise.

Yes, this is how many chiropractors perform this procedure. However, this form of cervical manipulation precedes the advent of chiropractic (1895). This procedure has been used by natural bonesetters, osteopaths, and chiropractors for years and decades.

So it is not an exclusive chiropractic procedure!

According to the Australian National Health Practitioners Law, manipulation of the cervical spine is restricted to chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists, and medical doctors. It is defined as “moving the joints of the cervical spine beyond a person's usual physiological range of motion using a high velocity, low amplitude thrust.’

That is what causes the “cracking” noise: the sudden gapping of the joints in the neck.

But let me make a clear and important distinction:

  • Just because you can manipulate the neck, causing a crack, does NOT mean that you corrected the alignment or motion restriction
  • Just because there is no cracking noise does NOT mean that you did not correct the alignment or restriction.
  • In other words, per this Australian definition, you don’t have to “crack” the neck or use spinal manipulation in order to correct neck alignment.

This is the key difference in what we do at Brisbane Atlas Health Chiropractic. We do NOT use spinal manipulation (per this Australian definition) in order to help the alignment and function of your body.

What are the Risks of Cervical Manipulation

Before we consider the stats for the procedure that we use at Brisbane Atlas Health chiropractic, we need to make a contrast with the general spinal manipulation.

But I will say this first: both methods - whether with or without the cracking - have EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD track records associated with them. 

There is a risk, but it is minimal. Indeed, even for my own personal self,  I know there are times when a cervical manipulation of some type is appropriate care! However, we prefer Brisbane Atlas Health chiropractic to go with a gentler version before stepping it up. It’s always easier to start light and build up than it is to go too hard and then try to reel it back in.

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So what are the risks associated with general cervical manipulation?

From the available research, here are a few numbers worth considering:

  • 50% of people report no adverse response following general manipulation

  • 45% of people reported minor discomfort following a spinal manipulation, which usually involved local muscle soreness, headache, fatigue, or lightheadedness, which typically resolved in less than 48 hours … and it actually makes sense where you think about things moving, changing blood flow, and kicking on healing response.
  • Less than 5% of interventions are believed to involve any notable adverse effects.

Somehow, there remains a public perception that spinal manipulation of the cervical spine causes strokes. Again, in the research, the perpetuation of this myth is contrary to all the studies that have ever

been done. In Hollywood, it is easy to show that you can break a person’s neck by tipping it into flexion and then spinning suddenly. Maybe. But that also takes an extreme amount of force: far less, and at a completely different angle than is performed with a general cervical manipulation.

Nevertheless, the act of rotating the head and applying an extra impulse and potentially aggravate certain conditions: basically people who might be on the edge of an event anyway! So what are the actual odds here?

Based on the research, about 1 in 5 million. So that is a grand total of 0.00002% of the risk.

In a recent Australian survey and independent review of over 21,000 submissions on the general chiropractic care for children under 12, there was not a single case of injury reported, and overall satisfaction with chiropractic ranked as 99%. Some pretty astonishing numbers!

What are the Risks of a Brisbane Atlas Health Chiropractic Correction

That all said, at Brisbane Atlas Health Chiropractic we still aim to do our best to ensure that the procedures we do minimize the risk as much as possible, including the risk of side effects.

As I have already said, the procedure we use - a Blair upper cervical correction - is NOT the same as a cervical spine manipulation.

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  • There is no cracking the neck
  • There is no rotation
  • There is no twisting
  • There is no sudden impulse that stretches the ligaments

The procedure is actually done with your head in a neutral and relaxed position and performed super quick and super-light using the only the amount of force that you would use to feel your pulse (3 Kg worth of pressure, which is actually not much at all!)

Before performing any adjustment, we also perform a series of specific tests that are important to identify the nature of your condition, thus the most appropriate type of care that you need.

  • Infrared paraspinal thermography to measure the distribution of heat along your spine as a reflection of your body’s neurological activity
  • Posture and muscle tension testing that indicates patterns of misalignment
  • Motion and static palpation to confirm areas of local inflammation or abnormal movement

At Brisbane Atlas Health chiropractic we use a variety of tests first to determine what type of treatment you may need … and also when you do NOT need it. In other words, we don’t adjust your neck unless it is clear from the results of your tests that it is what you actually need.

There was a study done in 2012 that looked at the safety and satisfaction record among the types of procedures that we use at Brisbane Atlas Health chiropractic. Patients reported an overall 91% satisfaction rating with the care. And among the upper cervical chiropractic doctors, not one case of a severe adverse event in an estimated over 5 million adjustments was reported.

Want More Information? How can we Help You?

At Brisbane Atlas Health chiropractic, we understand that the idea of having your neck worked on can be scary. Many people don’t like the idea of a sudden crack or twist, even if they know it feels better.

Our aim by providing a different approach is to provide the benefits without the parts that you don’t like.

Our principal chiropractic doctor, Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, has over a decade in the field of upper cervical specific care. He is recognized as a leader both locally and internationally in the Blair upper cervical technique as both an educator, published author, and speaker.

If you would like more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Hannah, you can click the Contact Us link on this page, or you can call our office in north Brisbane at 07 3188 9329.

Even if you are outside the Brisbane area but would still like information on Brisbane Atlas Health chiropractor, please get in contact with us so that we may recommend your nearest upper cervical specific chiropractor.

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Cassidy JD, Boyle E, Côté P, et al/ Risk of Carotid Stroke after Chiropractic Care: A Population-Based Case-Crossover Study. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2017 Apr;26(4):842-850. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2016.10.031. Epub 2016 Nov 21. 

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