Brisbane chiropractic treatment for neck and shoulder pain

Posted in Neck Pain Disorders on Apr 22, 2020

Brisbane chiropractic treatment for neck and shoulder pain

Neck pain and chiropractic care

Have you ever wondered when I may need to see a chiropractor instead of a physiotherapist or my GP?

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If you experience neck pain and shoulder pain, how do I know what I need to do?!

Everyone has a different opinion, and as an upper cervical chiropractor whose area of focus is on neck health, I would like to share with you my thoughts.

For many people, the most common initial approach they take for neck and shoulder pain treatment is anti-inflammatories. It is when they realize that they are taking drugs almost all the time that they usually decide that they need to take a more natural approach … especially if they realize that the drugs are only treating the symptoms. They aren’t fixing the underlying cause.

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They may see their GP, musculoskeletal GP, or even a neck specialist. They may request a few tests including x-rays, CTs, or MRIs if they think that the problem is significant enough. Usually, then they prescribe localized injections for the neck and shoulder pain or recommend a physiotherapist.

To the best of my understanding, physiotherapy is founded on the principle that normal action and balance of muscles in the body helps with normal body health, function, and wellbeing. Thus, if there is an imbalance or problem with the muscles or other tissues in the body, that can lead to pain and other health problems.

A physiotherapist then will prescribe stretches, exercises, or perform body-work to help restore normal function and thus alleviate pain.

… So what does that mean if these types of things where physiotherapist treatment for neck and shoulder pain don’t work? What that most likely means is that there is something controlling the muscles, which is causing them to misfire.

Here is the role of the chiropractor. Chiropractic is founded on the principle that is the nerve system that controls muscles and body health. Therefore, is something is wrong with the spine, it can result in health problems including neck and shoulder pain.

Chiropractic treatment for neck and shoulder pain is focused on correcting underlying misalignments of the spine in order to restore normal body function.

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So what does all that mean?

It means that IF you are doing all the right things - taking supplements, doing your stretches and exercises but STILL dealing with neck and shoulder pain - it means that there must be some underlying condition that is INTERFERING with the ability of these other therapies to work.

If so, it may be time to try something different. Specifically, when it comes to neck and shoulder pain, I will describe how an “upper cervical chiropractic doctor” may be able to help you. And when WHEN your neck is free and able to function, THEN that is when your physiotherapy, stretches, and rehab may have a much better opportunity to work.

So you see, when it comes to that common question “Do I need physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment for my neck and shoulder pain,” the answer is that you probably need both! The secret then is finding out which one you ACTUALLY need, and then getting the RIGHT ONE IN THE RIGHT ORDER.r


How many chiropractic sessions do I need for neck pain?

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One of the most common questions we are asked is, “How many chiropractic sessions do I need for neck pain?”

At Atlas Health where our focus is on neck health and where we provide chiropractic care for neck pain and other conditions, we follow a few principles to answer that question. Of course, we can’t diagnose you without doing tests. However, if I may offer a series of questions, it will help answer your question.

  1. How long have you been experiencing neck pain? If it is truly a brand new injury, many people experience relief wit a chiropractic adjustment for neck and shoulder pain within 2 weeks.
  2. Do you have neck arthritis? Even if you have not been experiencing neck pain, if you have any degenerative arthritis in your neck, it actually means that the problem has been building for a long time. The consequence is that it often takes longer. 


  • If you have neck arthritis from a 10-year-old injury it may take 1 month of chiropractic treatment for neck and shoulder pain before you start to feel better.
  • If you have a 20-year-old injury, it may take 2 months
  • And if you have a 30-year-old injury, it may take 3 months.

On average, many of our clients who are in the 30-50 age range have 10-20 years of neck arthritis from old injuries that they didn’t even know they had! It’s not because they are now older, but because the old injuries are older that they start to experience neck pain.

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In response to the question, “How many chiropractic sessions do I need for neck pain?” the answer depends on the length of time that the underlying problem has been there.

Nevertheless to give you a general idea, and initial recommendation that we make for people receiving chiropractic treatment for neck and shoulder pain when they have a typical 10-20-year-old injury is 18 visits over a 3 month period.

That is the importance of getting the right tests FIRST so that we can recommend the right level of care in order to help reach your health goals.


Are there any chiropractic pillows for neck and shoulder pain?

My recommendation is no pillow, or at least as thin as possible. That is the principle. For many reasons, people may need thicker pillows. However, thin or none is the best way to go in my opinion.

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Because the weight of your body is so much heavier than the weight of your head, many standard pillows - even ones advertise as “chiropractic pillows for neck and shoulder pain” - cause your head to stick forwards. This position stretches the muscles in your neck and shoulders.

People commonly strain their neck and shoulder muscles early in the morning. When this happens, your whole neck seizes up and you can’t turn your head without sharp pain. Especially when it happens in the morning, the two most likely reasons are 1) your sleeping position and 2) your pillow. 

Also, there is no such thing as “perfect” chiropractic pillows for neck and shoulder pain. Before making the choice to try no pillow, I would recommend that you speak with an upper cervical specific chiropractor, whose entire focus in practice is on neck health. If you would still prefer a pillow, my best recommendation is the Killapilla, which is an organic, Australian-made pillow that ticks more boxes than any other on the market in my opinion.


Can I get neck pain after a chiropractic treatment?

There are many different chiropractic methods for neck pain.

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  • Some chiropractors use spinal manipulation that involves twisting or cracking the neck
  • Other chiropractors use a mechanical instrument without manipulation.
  • Some chiropractors use a specialized chiropractic table that releases to produce a vibration.
  • Other chiropractors use wedges or light finger contacts to unwind tension through the body.

Depending on the type of chiropractic adjustment for neck and shoulder pain that was used IF you do experience neck pain after the chiropractic adjustment it is important to know why it has happened.

The first, but also the rarest possibility (1-5%) is that the wrong adjustment was used, or that it was done too firmly especially if it is spinal manipulation with neck twisting or cracking. The sudden jerking movement can sometimes strain muscles and unfortunately increase neck pain. 

It is the reason that it is ESSENTIAL for any healthcare provider who works on your neck to perform the right tests FIRST before simply treating your neck.

The second possibility is that it is a normal, albeit unpleasant side effect (30-50%). Muscle aching or even pulling neck pain after a chiropractic treatment is common when the nerves and muscles are “waking up,” like going to the gym for the first time in years!

Sometimes the neck pain from the chiropractic adjustment is only mild. Other times it is more pronounced. If this happens, it is important for your chiropractic doctor to perform additional tests in order to verify that your “side effects” are actually because of positive changes happening in your body, and not because you are actually going in the wrong direction.

These are a couple of the reasons why in our practice we use the “Blair Upper Cervical Specific Chiropractic Technique” - a novel approach to natural healthcare.


What is the Blair Chiropractic Technique for Neck Pain?

The Blair Technique is a special division of “Upper Cervical Care,” which is an advanced certification approach to chiropractic that has been developed and researched in the USA. In the world there are only around 1-2% of all chiropractors who have competed these advanced certifications … and in Australia, that number is only 0.2-0.4%.

So if you have not heard about upper cervical care or the Blair chiropractic technique for neck and shoulder pain before, I am not surprised.

There are a few reasons why we practice the Blair Upper Cervical technique to help people seeking chiropractic care for neck and shoulder pain. There are a few key differences:


  1. We perform specialized diagnostic tests including customized x-rays before starting care. That way, we know what you do need … and also what you do not! A precise approach means reducing risk PLUS increasing the probability of a positive outcome for you.
  2. We perform physical and nerve tests on every visit to determine when you do and when you do not need treatment. The fewer chiropractic treatments for neck and shoulder pain that you need, the better! We want to see your OWN body strong and able to heal itself. 
  3. We use a directed style of adjustment - tailored for your own bone structure to within 0,5 degrees! - that means there is no spinal manipulation, neck twisting, or cracking. The chiropractic adjustment does not hurt but can still deliver powerful relief for neck and shoulder pain.

If you are ready to try a different approach for your neck and shoulder pain - and if you have found this article to be both valuable and logical - then we would very much be honored to help you.

Our practice - Atlas Health - is the leader for upper cervical healthcare not only in Brisbane and Queensland but across Australia. We are located in North Lakes to service the greater Brisbane and Sunshine Coast communities. Our principal, Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, is an advanced board certified instructor in the Blair upper cervical chiropractic technique. He is an author, international lecturer, and recognized leader in the field of upper cervical specific chiropractic care.

If you would like to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with Dr. Hannah to discuss your particular case and to ask any question you may have to decide if Blair upper cervical care may be right for you, then we would like to hear from you.

You can call us on 07 3188 9339. You can also click the Contact Us link on this page, and one of our staff will return your message shortly.

It would be our privilege to help you.

Atlas Health Australia - “A passion and purpose for helping people live life again.”



Caccese JB, Buckley TA, Tierney RT, et al. Sex and age differences in head acceleration during purposeful soccer heading. Res Sports Med. 2017 Oct 25:1-11. doi: 10.1080/15438627.2017.1393756.

Côté P, Yu H, Shearer HM, et al. Non-pharmacological management of persistent headaches associated with neck pain: A clinical practice guideline from the Ontario Protocol for traffic injury management (OPTIMa) collaboration. Eur J Pain. 2019 Jul;23(6):1051-1070. doi: 10.1002/ejp.1374. Epub 2019 Feb 28.

Daligadu J, Haavik H., Yielder PC, et al. Alterations in cortical and cerebellar motor processing in subclinical neck pain patients following a spinal manipulation. Manipulative Physiol Therapy. 36(8); 2013:527-537.

Nolet PS, Emary PC, Kristman VL, et al. Exposure to a motor vehicle collision and the risk of future neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PM R. 2019 Apr 25. doi: 10.1002/pmrj.12173.

Teng CC, Chai H, Lai DM, Wang SF. Cervicocephalic kinesthetic sensibility in young and middle-aged adults with or without a history of mild neck pain. Man Ther. 2007 Feb;12(1):22-8. Epub 2006 Jun 14.

Wong JJ, Shearer HM, Mior S, et al. Are manual therapies, passive physical modalities, or acupuncture effective for the management of patients with whiplash-associated disorders or neck pain and associated disorders? An update of the Bone and Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders by the OPTIMa collaboration. Spine J. 2016 Dec;16(12):1598-1630. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2015.08.024. Epub 2015 Dec 17.

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