Is Atlas Health chiropractic neck manipulation safe?

Posted in Neck Pain Disorders on Dec 27, 2019

Is Atlas Health chiropractic neck manipulation safe?

Atlas Health chiropractic is NOT neck manipulation

There is no neck manipulation at Atlas Health chiropractic.

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Let me say that again: there is no neck manipulation at Atlas Health chiropractic.

And again: there is no neck manipulation at Atlas Health chiropractic.

Why do I repeat that 3x in a row? It is because when people see the word, “chiropractic,” they often associate it with neck cracking or back cracking or some type of spinal manipulation. 

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In the media (and even the legislative bodies in Australia), there is a pandemic of confusion and misinformation that circulates with regards to chiropractic and spaniel manipulation. It is because the two terms are used interchangeably.

The truth is that they are NOT the same.

What is the difference between neck manipulation and a specific neck adjustment?

In Australia, neck manipulation is defined in the law as, “moving the joints of the cervical spine beyond a person's usual physiological range of motion using a high velocity, low amplitude thrust.”

What this means is that the neck is stretched in a certain direction to bring the muscles and ligaments to a certain point of tension, and then a physical thrust is applied just a little bit further for the purpose of creating movement through those joints.

Often, there is a cracking or popping noise with neck manipulation that occurs when the fluid inside the joints suddenly move.

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Yes, this is a procedure that is used by many types of healthcare practitioners including general chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists, and even medical practitioners.

… But is a neck manipulation the same as a specific Atlas health chiropractic neck adjustment?


Foremost, the procedure that we use at Atlas health chiropractic keeps the neck in a neutral position. Therefore, there is no stretching, twisting, or turning the neck at all!

Because we adjust the neck in a neutral position, our goal is not the stretch the joints beyond the usual physiological range of motion. Instead, our goal is to make a correction for the alignment of the neck where it is trapped WITHIN its normal range of movement. 

That is the difference between a dislocation and what is known in chiropractic as a subluxation.

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And because there is no stretching or twisting - and because the procedure we use does not stretch the joint - there is actually no crack or pop with the procedure we use at Atlas health chiropractic.

In fact, because of the degree of precision that we use in measuring the direction and degree of misalignment in the neck, we only need to use the amount of force that you need to feel your own pulse in order to make the corrections for your neck alignment.

In other words, there is no cracking, the adjustment is exceptionally light, and many people say that they don’t actually “feel” as if anything happened at all … at least until they notice the changes in their body appear as the result of getting their neck properly aligned.

So is a Atlas Health chiropractic neck adjustment safe?

In a word, yes.

I often use the analogy of seeing your dentist. Is seeing your dentist safe? Well, duh! Of course, it is. However, with a little creativity, let’s consider a few possibilities as far as bad things that could happen when you see the dentist:

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  • You get a sore neck, jaw or headache from sitting in the chair with your mouth open
  • You could swallow some of the stuff in your mouth and get sick
  • You could get an infection or abscess 
  • You could get a shot that injures a nerve
  • Your tooth could crack even more with a routine drilling procedure and have to be pulled
  • You could get your jaw broken from pulling on the teeth during an extraction
  • You could get the anesthetic but never wake up again.


Does this change your mind about the safety of seeing a dentist? Probably not. It is because you know that even though these things may all be possible a) the benefit outweighs the negative, and b) the probability of these things happening is pretty low (especially when you start getting REALLY creative like I had to do for the last ones!)

When it comes to general chiropractic and the idea of spinal manipulation, the critics are masters of crafting myths that prey on the fear of the possible, but also exceptionally unlikely (i.e., if you get your neck cracked, you will die or suffer brain damage).

Now, that is no excuse to get sloppy with things, and that is why at Atlas health chiropractic everything that we do is aimed at precision, positive outcomes, and safety.

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  • It is one of the reasons we don’t use spinal manipulation
  • It is one of the reasons we don’t crack the neck
  • It is one of the reasons the adjustments we perform are with your head in a neutral position
  • It is one of the reasons we take customized 3D x-rays of your neck before making an adjustment
  • It is one of the reasons we do specific neurological testing before and after any adjustment, to know when you need a procedure and when you do not.


So what does the research say about the safety of the type of procedures that we use at Atlas health chiropractic?

A study in 2012 looked at 1090 patients receiving specific upper cervical chiropractic care over a 17 day period (with an average of 2.4 adjustments per patient).


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  1. Symptomatic reactions occurred in 31% of people with the majority being self-limiting (<48 hours) and minor such as neck soreness, headache, lightheadedness, or fatigue.
  2. Intense reactions occurred in only 5.1% of people. Again, none were reported as being permanent. 
  3. Moreover, the 83 chiropractors included in the study were interviewed if they had ever seen a case of stroke or vertebral artery direction following a specific upper cervical chiropractic correction. In their careers representing a combined 5 million patient visits, there was not one reported case of any serious or permanent injury following an adjustment,


Is it still possible? Yes. However, is it probable? No. The estimated odds using the latest data reveal that the risk of permanent injury following the type of adjustment we use at Atlas health chiropractic is about 0.00002%.

I also want to highlight a number that is inferred, but was not explicitly stated in this study: 69% of people had no adverse symptomatic reactions at all!

And among the patients, 91% reported overall satisfaction with the care they received even with the minor discomfort they may have experienced as part of the overall process.

What can Atlas Health chiropractic help with?

At Atlas health chiropractic, our focus is on the important relationship between the top bones in your neck, called the atlas (C1 vertebrae) and the axis (C2 vertebrae), because of their unique relationship on your brain and nervous system.

Your brain and nervous systems are the master command and coordination centers of your body that control every function in your body to keep you alive. Specifically, it is your brainstem that is the master control system for all these functions. And your brainstem sits at the exact same level as your C1 and C2 vertebrae in your upper neck.

When people suffer injuries that don’t break or dislocate the bones in your neck - but do cause them to shift or subluxate - even a few millimeters, that misalignment can slowly affect the function of your nervous system, potentially leading to dysfunction or health issues that you may have never considered are related to a problem in your neck.

We aren’t in the practice of treating your symptoms, which is why we say that we don’t “cure anything” It is your own body that does the healing.

What our role in the process is to help make sure that your master control system - your brainstem - is free of physical interference that could be impairing its normal function, thus allowing your body to be able to function and to heal the way that it is designed. 

When that happens some of the more common symptoms that people report improving while under upper cervical specific chiropractic care are as follow:


  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Vertigo and Dizziness
  • Low Back Pain including Sciatica
  • Jaw Problems including Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Neck and Shoulder Pain
  • … plus a variety of additional neuromuscular conditions.


Because your nervous system is ultimately responsible for your healing, we do not pretend to play God: i.e., that we can manipulate your symptoms, or that we are the ones that actually have the control to cause the healing or to make any specific symptom go away.

Instead, the alignment of the top bones in your neck is more in a category of exercise, good diet, sleep, and a healthy lifestyle as a way not to treat any specific condition, but as a way of allowing you to be as healthy as possible.

So what is the next logical step?

If you prefer natural, drug-free ways of preventing disease, but still you find yourself dealing with some type of health challenge, and you want to do everything in your power to be as healthy as possible, the work we do at Atlas health chiropractic might be right for you.

The offer we would like to extend for you from Atlas health chiropractic is a 15-minute complimentary phone consultation with our resident chiropractic doctor to discuss your particular case, to answer any questions you have, and to further describe the process. 

Atlas Health chiropractic is the first and only upper cervical specific healthcare center in Brisbane, serving people in the local communities of North Lakes, Mango Hill, Narangba, Burpengary, Griffin, North Harbour, and Aspley. We also assist people from across Brisbane and the southeast Queensland areas from north Brisbane, Albany Creek, Chermside, Everton Park, South Brisbane, Carindale, Capalapa, Beeneligh, Ipswich, the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast.

We accept referrals from across the state, and it is not uncommon for many of our clients to travel 60-90 minutes for care. Our practice is located in North Lakes along the Bruce Highway for easy access.

So if you are looking for a different choice when it comes to your healthcare, let us know how we can help. You can reach us via email through the Contact Us, or you can reach us at the office: 07 3188 9329.

Atlas Health Chiropractic - “A passion and purpose for helping people to live well.”



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.

Chiropractic spinal manipulation of children under 10. Accessed 2 Nov 2019. .

Eriksen K. Satisfaction Associated with Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care: A Prospective, Multicenter, Cohort Study. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2011, 12:219 doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-219.

Eriksen K. Upper Cervical Subluxation Complex: a review of the chiropractic and medical literature. Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins. Baltimore (MD). 2004.


Leboeuf-Yde C, Pedersen EN, Bryner P et al. Self-reported nonmusculoskeletal responses to chiropractic intervention: a multination survey. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2005 Jun;28(5):294-302; discussion 365-6.


Swait G, Finch R. What are the risks of manual treatment of the spine? A scoping review for clinicians. Chiropr Man Therap. 2017 Dec 7;25:37. doi: 10.1186/s12998-017-0168-5. eCollection 2017.


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