Because the neck is so flexible and because it supports the head, it is extremely vulnerable to injury. Motor vehicle or diving accidents, contact sports, and falls may result in neck injury. The regular use of safety belts in motor vehicles can help to prevent or minimize neck injury. A "rear end" automobile collision may result in hyperextension, a backward motion of the neck beyond normal limits, or hyperflexion, a forward motion of the neck beyond normal limits. The most common neck injuries involve the soft tissues: the muscles and ligaments. Severe neck injuries with a fracture or dislocation of the neck may damage the spinal cord and cause paralysis.
If you are lucky enough to have family and friends who regularly visit a chiropractor, ask them for help finding a “chiropractor near me.” A license to practice shows that the doctor is qualified, but a person who has worked with them can tell you about their bedside manner and demeanor. It helps to keep in mind what kind of doctor you generally prefer. Whether you like a warm, caring doctor or a capable but business-like doctor, a recommendation from a family member or friend may be able to help.
All treatment is based on an accurate diagnosis of your back pain. The chiropractor should be well informed regarding your medical history, including ongoing medical conditions, current medications, traumatic/surgical history, and lifestyle factors. Although rare, there have been cases in which treatment worsened a herniated or slipped disc, or neck manipulation resulted spinal cord injury. To be safe, always check with your medical doctor to make sure your condition will benefit from chiropractic or other pain relief alternatives. 
Mainstream health care and governmental organizations such as the World Health Organization consider chiropractic to be complementary and alternative medicine (CAM);[1] and a 2008 study reported that 31% of surveyed chiropractors categorized chiropractic as CAM, 27% as integrated medicine, and 12% as mainstream medicine.[56] Many chiropractors believe they are primary care providers,[4][21] including US[57] and UK chiropractors,[58] but the length, breadth, and depth of chiropractic clinical training do not support the requirements to be considered primary care providers,[2] so their role on primary care is limited and disputed.[2][21]
Sharp neck pain is not in itself a red flag. Believe it or not there is no common worrisome cause of neck pain that is indicated by a sharp quality. In fact, oddly, sharp pains are actually a bit reassuring, despite how they feel. In isolation — with no other obvious problem — they usually indicate that you just have a temporary, minor source of irritation in the cervical spine. Serious causes of neck pain like infections, tumours, and spinal cord problems tend grind you down with throbbing pains, not “stab” you.

A 2012 systematic review concluded that no accurate assessment of risk-benefit exists for cervical manipulation.[15] A 2010 systematic review stated that there is no good evidence to assume that neck manipulation is an effective treatment for any medical condition and suggested a precautionary principle in healthcare for chiropractic intervention even if a causality with vertebral artery dissection after neck manipulation were merely a remote possibility.[17] The same review concluded that the risk of death from manipulations to the neck outweighs the benefits.[17] Chiropractors have criticized this conclusion, claiming that the author did not evaluate the potential benefits of spinal manipulation.[158] Edzard Ernst stated "This detail was not the subject of my review. I do, however, refer to such evaluations and should add that a report recently commissioned by the General Chiropractic Council did not support many of the outlandish claims made by many chiropractors across the world."[158]
What's to know about cervical spondylosis? Cervical spondylosis is a type of osteoarthritis. It is very common, and it happens as people get older, and the vertebrae and discs in the neck deteriorate. Minor symptoms include neck pain and stiffness, but numbness and more severe effects are possible. Symptoms often resolve alone, but treatment is available. Read now
Often people are scared to see a chiropractor. They are turned off by the “cracking, popping and twisting” involved with manual adjustments. We do offer manual adjusting and get great results utilizing that technique, but there are alternatives. We utilize computerized technology that pulsates or vibrates on the involved areas without the cracking and popping. ProAdjuster and Rapid Release consistent and comfortable.
The AANS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products or physicians referenced in these patient fact sheets. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific neurosurgical advice or assistance should consult his or her neurosurgeon, or locate one in your area through the AANS’ Find a Board-certified Neurosurgeon online tool.
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We use cookies and similar technologies to improve your browsing experience, personalize content and offers, show targeted ads, analyze traffic, and better understand you. We may share your information with third-party partners for marketing purposes. To learn more and make choices about data use, visit our Advertising Policy and Privacy Policy. By clicking “Accept and Continue” below, (1) you consent to these activities unless and until you withdraw your consent using our rights request form, and (2) you consent to allow your data to be transferred, processed, and stored in the United States.


As with so many things, when it comes to neck pain, an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure. It's true that some causes of neck pain, such as age-related wear and tear, are not under your control. On the other hand, there are many things you can do to minimize your risk. One place to start is to look at how you sleep and what effect this may have on neck pain.

Mixer chiropractors "mix" diagnostic and treatment approaches from chiropractic, medical and/or osteopathic viewpoints and make up the majority of chiropractors.[22] Unlike straight chiropractors, mixers believe subluxation is one of many causes of disease, and hence they tend to be open to mainstream medicine.[22] Many of them incorporate mainstream medical diagnostics and employ conventional treatments including techniques of physical therapy such as exercise, stretching, massage, ice packs, electrical muscle stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, and moist heat.[22] Some mixers also use techniques from alternative medicine, including nutritional supplements, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal remedies, and biofeedback.[22]
Chiropractic doctors diagnose and treat patients whose health problems are associated with the body’s muscular, nervous and skeletal systems. Chiropractors believe that interference with these systems can impair normal functioning, cause pain and lower resistance to disease. They are most well known for the hands-on technique they practice to adjust imbalances in the patient’s skeletal system, particularly the spine.

There are several surgical treatments available to treat cervical spine disorders. Factors that help determine the type of surgical treatment include the specifics of the disc disease and the presence or absence of pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots. Other factors include age, how long the patient has had the disorder, other medical conditions and if there has been previous cervical spine surgery.


A large number of chiropractors fear that if they do not separate themselves from the traditional vitalistic concept of innate intelligence, chiropractic will continue to be seen as a fringe profession.[22] A variant of chiropractic called naprapathy originated in Chicago in the early twentieth century.[35][36] It holds that manual manipulation of soft tissue can reduce "interference" in the body and thus improve health.[36]
Jump up ^ Lewis RA, Williams NH, Sutton AJ, Burton K, Din NU, Matar HE, Hendry M, Phillips CJ, Nafees S, Fitzsimmons D, Rickard I, Wilkinson C (2013). "Comparative clinical effectiveness of management strategies for sciatica: systematic review and network meta-analyses". Spine Journal. 15 (6): 1461–77. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2013.08.049. PMID 24412033.

There are several different surgical procedures which can be utilized, the choice of which is influenced by the severity of each case. In a small percentage of patients, spinal instability may require that spinal fusion be performed, a decision that is generally determined prior to surgery. Spinal fusion is an operation that creates a solid union between two or more vertebrae. Various devices (like screws or plates) may be used to enhance fusion and support unstable areas of the cervical spine. This procedure may assist in strengthening and stabilizing the spine and may thereby help to alleviate severe and chronic neck pain.
Throughout its history chiropractic has been the subject of internal and external controversy and criticism.[22][224] According to Daniel D. Palmer, the founder of chiropractic, subluxation is the sole cause of disease and manipulation is the cure for all diseases of the human race.[4][42] A 2003 profession-wide survey[38] found "most chiropractors (whether 'straights' or 'mixers') still hold views of innate Intelligence and of the cause and cure of disease (not just back pain) consistent with those of the Palmers."[225] A critical evaluation stated "Chiropractic is rooted in mystical concepts. This led to an internal conflict within the chiropractic profession, which continues today."[4] Chiropractors, including D.D. Palmer, were jailed for practicing medicine without a license.[4] For most of its existence, chiropractic has battled with mainstream medicine, sustained by antiscientific and pseudoscientific ideas such as subluxation.[37] Collectively, systematic reviews have not demonstrated that spinal manipulation, the main treatment method employed by chiropractors, is effective for any medical condition, with the possible exception of treatment for back pain.[4] Chiropractic remains controversial, though to a lesser extent than in past years.[25]
The cervical spine is also surrounded by a thick, tangled web of nerves. In general, those nerves are amazingly difficult to irritate, much harder than people think, but it’s not impossible. Many sharp and shooting neck pains are probably caused by minor neuropathy (pain from nerve irritation) that will ease gradually over several days or a few weeks at the worst, like a bruise healing. It’s unpleasant, but not actually scary, like banging your funny bone (ulnar nerve): that thing can really take a licking and keep on ticking. So can the nerves in your neck.

The disk acts as a shock absorber between the bones in the neck. In cervical disk degeneration (which typically occurs in people age 40 years and older), the normal gelatin-like center of the disk degenerates and the space between the vertebrae narrows. As the disk space narrows, added stress is applied to the joints of the spine causing further wear and degenerative disease. The cervical disk may also protrude and put pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots when the rim of the disk weakens. This is known as a herniated cervical disk.
Regulatory colleges and chiropractic boards in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Australia are responsible for protecting the public, standards of practice, disciplinary issues, quality assurance and maintenance of competency.[183][184] There are an estimated 49,000 chiropractors in the U.S. (2008),[185] 6,500 in Canada (2010),[186] 2,500 in Australia (2000),[28] and 1,500 in the UK (2000).[187]
Numerous controlled clinical studies of treatments used by chiropractors have been conducted, with conflicting results.[4] Systematic reviews of this research have not found evidence that chiropractic manipulation is effective, with the possible exception of treatment for back pain.[4] A critical evaluation found that collectively, spinal manipulation was ineffective at treating any condition.[10] Spinal manipulation may be cost-effective for sub-acute or chronic low back pain but the results for acute low back pain were insufficient.[11] The efficacy and cost-effectiveness of maintenance chiropractic care are unknown.[12] There is not sufficient data to establish the safety of chiropractic manipulations.[13] It is frequently associated with mild to moderate adverse effects, with serious or fatal complications in rare cases.[14] There is controversy regarding the degree of risk of vertebral artery dissection, which can lead to stroke and death, from cervical manipulation.[15] Several deaths have been associated with this technique[14] and it has been suggested that the relationship is causative,[16][17] a claim which is disputed by many chiropractors.[17]
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