by Dr. Terry Weyman
Many times I get asked, “How safe is a cervical manipulation” or I hear, “my neck hurts, I will just take an Advil”. I often wonder why MDs don’t refer more patients with neck or back pain to Doctors of Chiropractic? Over the years I have heard comments such as “there is no science that supports that it is safe”, or “don’t let a Chiropractor touch your neck as they can cause a stroke”. Yet, they refer to a physical therapist who has very little training in manipulation and most of their Manual Manipulation techniques involve a lot of rotation which can cause the most damage to the surrounding cervical structures. Now, I am not putting down the profession of Physical Therapy as I am a big user and believer in what they do. In fact, when teamed up, the DC/PT combo can be extremely beneficial to the patient.
Chiropractic has been reviewed for decades and proven safe, but just as a facial tissue is sometimes referred to as a “Kleenex” (a brand name vs the actual product) a manipulation can be performed by many people from Doctors to friends, yet most often, according to the literature, when an incident is recorded, it is recorded as a Chiropractic adjustment, whether or not the manipulation was performed by a Doctor of Chiropractic.
Back in 1995, the prestigious Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT), did a full Literature Review. In this review they evaluated the risk of serious injury or death resulting from cervical manipulation and to assess the evidence that cervical manipulation is an effective treatment for mechanical neck pain. They also reviewed the literature to assess the risks and effectiveness of Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which are often used as the “conventional” first-line treatment for similar musculo-skeletal conditions.
Their conclusion? “The best evidence indicates that cervical manipulation for neck pain is much safer that the use of NSAIDS! That is saying having your neck adjusted is safer than taking an advil. IN FACT, they concluded that its safer by as much a FACTOR OF SEVERAL HUNDRED TIMES. They further concluded that there “is no evidence that indicates NSAIDS use is any more effective than cervical manipulation for neck pain. (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1995; 18:530-6)
So why do most people grab a handful of Advil (which has side effects) instead of simply going to the Chiropractor? Lack of knowledge or ignorance? Someone once told me it was due to cost. My answer to that was spend a little now or wait and spend ALOT later.
We only get one body, please take care of it and treat it for what it is, your most PRIZED possession.
Dr. Terry Weyman is the clinic Director at the Chiropractic Sports Institute located in Westlake Village, Ca