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.
Finding a good, or even great, chiropractor doesn’t happen just by chance. It’s like anything else today–there are online options for finding user-generated reviews and recommendations to help you find the best chiropractor close to you. Add that to your network of family and friends, and peer-reviewed sites like PainDoctor.com, and you have the tools you need to make the best decision for you.

Finally, it’s important to know that it’s okay to change chiropractors if the doctor you find just isn’t a good fit. They may be perfectly qualified and capable, but if you aren’t comfortable with them, treatment may be less effective. Some patients love doctors who are straight and to the point, while others prefer someone who provides lots of explanation both before and during a procedure. Likewise, they may not be the best doctor to treat your specific pain condition. As with other doctors, chiropractors understand this and are happy to transfer your records to a different doctor.
A 2012 systematic review suggested that the use of spine manipulation in clinical practice is a cost-effective treatment when used alone or in combination with other treatment approaches.[160] A 2011 systematic review found evidence supporting the cost-effectiveness of using spinal manipulation for the treatment of sub-acute or chronic low back pain; the results for acute low back pain were insufficient.[11]

The World Health Organization found chiropractic care in general is safe when employed skillfully and appropriately.[46] There is not sufficient data to establish the safety of chiropractic manipulations.[13] Manipulation is regarded as relatively safe but complications can arise, and it has known adverse effects, risks and contraindications.[46] Absolute contraindications to spinal manipulative therapy are conditions that should not be manipulated; these contraindications include rheumatoid arthritis and conditions known to result in unstable joints.[46] Relative contraindications are conditions where increased risk is acceptable in some situations and where low-force and soft-tissue techniques are treatments of choice; these contraindications include osteoporosis.[46] Although most contraindications apply only to manipulation of the affected region, some neurological signs indicate referral to emergency medical services; these include sudden and severe headache or neck pain unlike that previously experienced.[138] Indirect risks of chiropractic involve delayed or missed diagnoses through consulting a chiropractor.[4]

Headache. A 2011 systematic review found evidence that suggests that chiropractic SMT might be as effective as propranolol or topiramate in the prevention of migraine headaches.[110] A 2011 systematic review found evidence that does not support the use of SM for the treatment of migraine headaches.[111] A 2006 review found no rigorous evidence supporting SM or other manual therapies for tension headache.[112] A 2005 review found that the evidence was weak for effectiveness of chiropractic manipulation for tension headache, and that it was probably more effective for tension headache than for migraine.[113] A 2004 Cochrane review found evidence that suggests SM may be effective for migraine, tension headache and cervicogenic headache.[114]


A 2012 systematic review suggested that the use of spine manipulation in clinical practice is a cost-effective treatment when used alone or in combination with other treatment approaches.[160] A 2011 systematic review found evidence supporting the cost-effectiveness of using spinal manipulation for the treatment of sub-acute or chronic low back pain; the results for acute low back pain were insufficient.[11]
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.

Freedman Chiropractic Center, LLC was just recognized by The Home News Tribune in their 2017 Readers' Choice Awards as Best Chiropractic Office.  It's owner and director, Dr. Ken Freedman, has been empowering patients to live healthier, more active lives since 1979. Dr. Freedman’s unique approach to chiropractic care balances clinical excellence, a long-standing commitment to whole body health and personalized recommendations and products to improve patient outcomes. Our comprehensive pain relief, injury rehabilitation and wellness services include chiropractic care, Reiki care, instructional classes, nutrition, purification, and ... View Profile

Stabilization surgery is sometimes—but not always—done at the same time as a decompression surgery. In some forms of decompression surgery, the surgeon may need to remove a large portion of the vertebra or vertebrae. That results in an unstable spine, meaning that it moves in abnormal ways, and that puts you more at risk for serious neurological injury. In that case, the surgeon will restabilize the spine. Commonly, this is done with a fusion and spinal instrumentation, or implantation of an artificial disc.


If the pain is due to muscle spasm or a pinched nerve, your provider may prescribe a muscle relaxant or a more powerful pain reliever. Over-the-counter medicines often work as well as prescription drugs. At times, your provider may give you steroids to reduce swelling. If there is nerve damage, your provider may refer you to a neurologist, neurosurgeon, or orthopedic surgeon for consultation.
I am a science writer, former massage therapist, and I was the assistant editor at ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I have had my share of injuries and pain challenges as a runner and ultimate player. My wife and I live in downtown Vancouver, Canada. See my full bio and qualifications, or my blog, Writerly. You might run into me on Facebook or Twitter.
Figure 1. (side view) The neck region is called the cervical spine. Protected within the bones of the cervical spine are the spinal cord and nerves. The seven cervical bones (vertebrae) are numbered C1 to C7. Each bone is separated and cushioned by shock-absorbing discs. The spinal nerves pass through bony canals to branch out to the neck and arms.
Many other procedures are used by chiropractors for treating the spine, other joints and tissues, and general health issues. The following procedures were received by more than one-third of patients of licensed U.S. chiropractors in a 2003 survey: Diversified technique (full-spine manipulation; mentioned in previous paragraph), physical fitness/exercise promotion, corrective or therapeutic exercise, ergonomic/postural advice, self-care strategies, activities of daily living, changing risky/unhealthy behaviors, nutritional/dietary recommendations, relaxation/stress reduction recommendations, ice pack/cryotherapy, extremity adjusting (also mentioned in previous paragraph), trigger point therapy, and disease prevention/early screening advice.[73]
I’ve never really considered going to a chiropractor—I’m healthy, moderately active and I don’t really have much pain on a regular basis. But I work for a health and wellness company that encourages its employees to take an active role in their health, and many of my coworkers swear by their chiropractors. I wasn’t sure what a chiropractor could really do for me, but after a bit of word-of-mouth research, I found out that chiropractic care actually has benefits for your whole body! So I decided to give it a try.
×