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.
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Don’t medically investigate neck pain until it’s met at least three criteria: (1) it’s been bothering you for more than about 6 weeks; (2) it’s severe and/or not improving, or actually getting worse; and (3) there’s at least one other “red flag” (age over 55 or under 20, painful to light tapping, fever/malaise/nausea, weight loss, nasty headache, severe stiffness, very distinctive pain, and numbness and/or tingling and/or weakness anywhere else). Note that signs of arthritis are not red flags.
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.
Cervical stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows and compresses the spinal cord and is most frequently caused by aging. The discs in the spine that separate and cushion vertebrae may dry out. As a result, the space between the vertebrae shrinks, and the discs lose their ability to act as shock absorbers. At the same time, the bones and ligaments that make up the spine become less pliable and thicken. These changes result in a narrowing of the spinal canal. In addition, the degenerative changes associated with cervical stenosis can affect the vertebrae by contributing to the growth of bone spurs that compress the nerve roots. Mild stenosis can be treated conservatively for extended periods of time as long as the symptoms are restricted to neck pain. Severe stenosis requires referral to a neurosurgeon.
Some of the findings from my tests were things that I could fix at home, and others could be helped with hands-on chiropractic care, like an adjustment. In my case, I didn’t have a normal c-shaped curve in my neck. This can be caused by minor whiplash, sports injuries or even sitting forward all day (I spend a lot of time at work staring at a screen). The chiropractor recommended at-home care in the way of a rolled up towel or ergonomic pillow. These can help restore the curve in your neck.

Chiropractors, especially in America, have a reputation for unnecessarily treating patients.[6] In many circumstances the focus seems to be put on economics instead of health care.[6] Sustained chiropractic care is promoted as a preventative tool, but unnecessary manipulation could possibly present a risk to patients.[4] Some chiropractors are concerned by the routine unjustified claims chiropractors have made.[4] A 2010 analysis of chiropractic websites found the majority of chiropractors and their associations made claims of effectiveness not supported by scientific evidence, while 28% of chiropractor websites advocate lower back pain care, which has some sound evidence.[197]
Spinal manipulation is associated with frequent, mild and temporary adverse effects,[14][138] including new or worsening pain or stiffness in the affected region.[139] They have been estimated to occur in 33% to 61% of patients, and frequently occur within an hour of treatment and disappear within 24 to 48 hours;[13] adverse reactions appear to be more common following manipulation than mobilization.[140] The most frequently stated adverse effects are mild headache, soreness, and briefly elevated pain fatigue.[141] Chiropractic is correlated with a very high incidence of minor adverse effects.[4] Chiropractic are more commonly associated with serious related adverse effects than other professionals following manipulation.[17] Rarely,[46] spinal manipulation, particularly on the upper spine, can also result in complications that can lead to permanent disability or death; these can occur in adults[14] and children.[142] There is a case of a three-month-old dying following manipulation of the neck area.[137] Estimates vary widely for the incidence of these complications,[13] and the actual incidence is unknown, due to high levels of underreporting and to the difficulty of linking manipulation to adverse effects such as stroke, which is a particular concern.[14] Adverse effects are poorly reported in recent studies investigating chiropractic manipulations.[143] A 2016 systematic review concludes that the level of reporting is unsuitable and unacceptable.[144] Reports of serious adverse events have occurred, resulting from spinal manipulation therapy of the lumbopelvic region.[145] Estimates for serious adverse events vary from 5 strokes per 100,000 manipulations to 1.46 serious adverse events per 10 million manipulations and 2.68 deaths per 10 million manipulations, though it was determined that there was inadequate data to be conclusive.[13] Several case reports show temporal associations between interventions and potentially serious complications.[146] The published medical literature contains reports of 26 deaths since 1934 following chiropractic manipulations and many more seem to remain unpublished.[17]
A small number of neck pain patients, particularly those with arm pain or signs of spinal cord compression, require cervical spine surgery. A new option for neck surgery is an artificial disc. This device made of metal and plastic, is the correct choice for a very small number of individuals with neck pain only and no other abnormality in the cervical spine than a worn out disc.
Self care: Neck pain often resolves with rest, ice or heat, massage, pain relievers, and gentle stretches. Reduce muscle inflammation and pain using an ice pack for 20 minutes several times a day during the first 48 to 72 hours. Thereafter, a warm shower or heating pad on low setting may be added to relax the muscles. A short period of bed rest is okay, but more than a couple of days does more harm than good. If self-care treatments aren't working within the first couple of days, see your doctor.

The Henderson Center was founded in 1985 as The Henderson Center Chiropractic Clinic in King of Prussia, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, but was strictly a chiropractic clinic until 1993, when Dr. M Jonathan Garzillo, a chiropractor, joined the Center. Since then, the Center has expanded beyond just chiropractic to become a multi-specialty pain management practice, incorporating massage therapies, shiatsu therapy and chiropractic care. Dr. Garzillo also brought a simple philosophy to the Henderson Center. Instead of trying to prolong care, the Center works to relieve patients of their pain in the shortest time possible. I ... View Profile
Chiropractic diagnosis may involve a range of methods including skeletal imaging, observational and tactile assessments, and orthopedic and neurological evaluation.[46] A chiropractor may also refer a patient to an appropriate specialist, or co-manage with another health care provider.[54] Common patient management involves spinal manipulation (SM) and other manual therapies to the joints and soft tissues, rehabilitative exercises, health promotion, electrical modalities, complementary procedures, and lifestyle advice.[3]
Chiropractors often argue that this education is as good as or better than medical physicians', but most chiropractic training is confined to classrooms with much time spent learning theory, adjustment, and marketing.[65] The fourth year of chiropractic education persistently showed the highest stress levels.[188] Every student, irrespective of year, experienced different ranges of stress when studying.[188] The chiropractic leaders and colleges have had internal struggles.[189] Rather than cooperation, there has been infighting between different factions.[189] A number of actions were posturing due to the confidential nature of the chiropractic colleges in an attempt to enroll students.[189][clarification needed]

Other Disease Processes: Although neck pain is commonly caused by strain, prolonged pain and/or neurologic deficit may be an indication of something more serious. These symptoms should not be ignored. Spinal infection, spinal cord compression, tumor, fracture, and other disorders can occur. If head injury has been sustained, more than likely the neck has been affected too. It is wise to seek medical attention promptly.


Licensure takes place at the state level under specific state laws. Licensing and the scope of practice may differ from state to state. Most states require that chiropractors complete the National Chiropractic Board examination before they get their license. Some states also require chiropractors to pass a state examination. All states recognize training from chiropractic schools accredited by the Council of Chiropractic Education (CCE).


Dr. Alexandra (Alex) Robins holds both BS and DC degrees, graduating from National College of Chiropractic in 1991. She practiced in Chicago for a couple of years before buying a practice in Indianapolis in1993, which focused on neuromusculoskeletal conditions as well as acupuncture. After 21 years of practice in Indianapolis, Dr. Robins closed her office and became involved with The Joint in 2016. As Dr. Robins states, “Being with The Joint has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to once again treat patients.”

Self care: Neck pain often resolves with rest, ice or heat, massage, pain relievers, and gentle stretches. Reduce muscle inflammation and pain using an ice pack for 20 minutes several times a day during the first 48 to 72 hours. Thereafter, a warm shower or heating pad on low setting may be added to relax the muscles. A short period of bed rest is okay, but more than a couple of days does more harm than good. If self-care treatments aren't working within the first couple of days, see your doctor.
If your chiropractor does recommend an X-ray, one piece of advice: wear proper clothing! I made the mistake of wearing jeans to the appointment. And that meant had to change into some not-so-attractive disposable medical shorts… NOT a good look. I would recommend wearing loose-fitting clothing you can move in (that helps for the movement assessment too!) and nix the jewelry. I was smarter for my second appointment and wore my workout gear, so the medical shorts didn’t have to make a second appearance.
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