Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Neck FAQ

Question:

I've been having some neck and back issues off and on for weeks now (probably more like months). I've been warned by my parents not to have anyone crack my neck because it could cause paralysis. What about having the middle of my back adjusted? Would that help?

Answer:

Actually, there are some studies that support the use of thrust manipulation of the upper back in the treatment of neck pain. Using manipulation to realign the mid-to-upper spine has been shown to provide immediate neck pain relief. There are also some studies that show neck motion improves following this type of treatment. The results are measurable and last for at least six months (that's as long as the studies followed patients). It's possible there are continued good long-term benefits but this hasn't been studied yet. It's also possible that there is one type of thrust manipulation (i.e., specific technique) that works better than another. In addition, the differences in treatment outcomes may be based on the location of the problem within the spine. Perhaps the position the patient is in (sitting, lying down) when the manipulation is done makes a difference, too. There's plenty of room for additional studies but for the moment it looks clear that your idea has been investigated and has some merit! K. M. Cross, PT, PhD, ATC, et al. Thoracic Spine Thrust Manipulation Improves Pain, Range of Motion, and Self-Reported Function in Patients with Mechanical Neck Pain: A Systematic Review. In Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. September 2011. Vol. 41. No. 9. Pp.633-643.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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