Chiropractic is among the safest and most effective approaches to most neck pain

The most significant study on neck pain to date was reported in the medical orthopedic journal SPINE (1/18/08) and revealed the prevailing medical fallacies in the diagnosis and treatment of neck pain. Scott Haldeman, DC, PhD, MD, stated that the use of highly invasive practices such as surgery are not indicated when addressing the most common examples of neck pain.  In contrast, procedures such as chiropractic adjustments are indicated, along with other non-invasive measures, when dealing with these types of neck pain.

Exhaustive reviews of the medical literature show that chiropractic is the safest and most effective choice in most cases of common neck pain.

The study results emanate from a six-year review of more than 31,000 research citations with subsequent analysis of over 1,000 studies. The multi-disciplinary report, based on research spanning seven years by clinicians and scientists from multiple clinical and scientific disciplines from 9 countries and associated with eight collaborating universities in four countries, is widely regarded as one of the most extensive reports on the subject of neck pain ever developed.

The study offers the most current perspective on the scientific evidence related to the care and management of neck pain.  The United Nations and the World Health Organization designated the years 2000 to 2010 as the “Decade of the Bone and Joint.” The findings are already impacting the manner in which neck pain is perceived, addressed, and studied around the world.

Periarticular Fibrosis and Neuropathy

The buildup of fibrosis (scar tissue) in the spinal joints from cumulative strain and injury is the most common underlying cause of spinal pain.  When a ligament injury or other soft tissue injury occurs scar tissue begins forming withing 24 hours.  Even minor everyday strains can accumulate into significant amounts of scar tissue.  The formation of scar tissue that sets the stage for chronic pain, even after the original strain or injury has healed.  Scar tissue has three properties that make it a problem: (1) It is less elastic than the original ligament tissue so it causes joint stiffness which leads to joint degeneration.

Inactivity leads to degeneration; even local inactivity in a joint. (2) It is weaker than the original ligament so it sets the stage for chronic re-injury and (3) It is thicker than the original ligament so it leads tostenosis (narrowing of the nerve canals) and chronic pinching and stretching of spinal nerves as they pass by the fibrotic facet joint.

Regular chiropractic care, even when there is no pain or symptom, is important in preventing spinal and nerve problems that can turn into major health problems.  Like regular dental care, it’s better to take care before the pain comes.

Neck Alignment Problem Can Cause Lower Back Strain

The most common postural distortion in the neck is the “head forward” posture.  The average human head weighs 10 to 12 pounds and for every 1/3 of and inch the head moves forward the forces in the lower back are 3 times greater.  So neck alignment is important even in many cases of chronic lower back pain.

The Myth of Neck Adjusting and Strokes

Dr. Haldeman points to a number of other neck-related studies. One important report that was presented by the Neck Pain Task Force brings considerable question to the linkage between cervical (neck) manipulation and the development of a unique form of vascular problem known as vertebrobasilar artery insufficiency or vertebrobasilar artery stroke. The findings from an analysis of nine years of data involving approximately 110 million person years revealed similar incidence of this type of stroke in patients who had sought chiropractic care as in patients who sought the care of general practitioners of medicine. “Researchers found that the likelihood of having a stroke following a chiropractic office visit is no different from the risk of stroke following a visit to an MD’s office,” Dr. Haldeman explains.