Neck manipulation outed as “clinically unneccessary”

A piece in the British Medical journal states that neck manipulation seems to be clinically unnecessary and potentially too risk compared to other treatments. Chiropractors don’t like that, obviously.

Why having your neck clicked could do more harm than good – Telegraph.

Physiotherapy lecturer Neil O’Connell, of Brunel University, Uxbridge, and colleagues said cervical spine manipulation “may carry the potential for serious neurovascular complications.”Writing online in the British Medical Journal, they added that the technique is “unnecessary and inadvisable.”

“There have been rare cases where a specific type of stroke has happened within a few days of the treatment which can tear the lining of the vertebral artery in the neck supplying blood to the brain.

“Studies have shown that other types of treatment, such as a gentle massage or exercise, are just as effective without the risks. None of them are a panacea, there is no reliable cure for neck pain, but all provide just the same amount of relief.”

Source: The Telegraph

The title of the BMJ (paywalled) piece is VERY clear: “Should we abandon cervical spine manipulation for mechanical neck pain? Yes”.

Those who oppose the findings don’t provide any good counter argument other than what boils down to “some people like it” and it makes them feel better. Have they tried other options? Are they just used to it at this point and are into the habit? When you stretch, joints like the neck and back will often pop on their own. It does feel good. The problem here is deliberate manipulations that are forced can overextend what is normal range of motion and possibly tear the lining of the vertebral artery in the neck supplying blood to the brain. You need someone to do that too you.

Opinions against chiropractic will get you quickly into a heated debate with those who are frequent visitors to their chiropractors. I can’t help but notice something, though: Physiotherapists help you get over your pain and teach you how to manage it for the future. Chiros just keep you coming back for the next appointment. I don’t need a chiropractor to adjust me, thanks. But some people are certainly getting manipulated…

Science-Based Medicine site has a topic overview of chiropractic.

Note: We’ve had some chiropractors come her and yell before. I do not find chiropractic scientific, based on the mounds of evidence that currently exist. Unless new evidence comes to light, I’m not going to be swayed by personal stories and professionals trying to defend their practice. So, comment supporting chiropractic, unless they are constructive, will not be allowed.

Addition: Here is more from Dr. Steven Novella on this topic.