What did the chiropractor just do to me??

I went to a chiropractor for the first time today. I get chronic headaches and thought it might be a better alternative to all the ibuprofen I’m popping. I’ve been a chiropractic skeptic for a long time, but I really liked it. After the initial assessment, she put a hot towel-thing on my neck for about 5 minutes. Then she had me lie on my back, turned my head, and quickly twisted my neck. A series of sharp cracks came out from the base of my skull. I gasped because it sounded scarily like my neck was being broken, but holy crapspackle! It feels so good now. My neck parts are looser and my head feels lighter.

I came home and read that there’s a risk of stroke from neck adjustments. I didn’t know I was going to get one before I went in there. Nothing bad happened, but I’m not sure if I should go back. Any thoughts?

it is good to ask about any treatment and understand it with any health practitioner.

Did you hurt your neck before the headaches started? My son sees a neurologist for headaches, and he says that a neck injury can cause headaches- something about tight neck muscles, tension, vicious cycle. He gave my son a nerve block in the back of his neck to break that cycle, and there was definitely some snap, crackle, pop when he did that- he said it was lactic acid crystals that had built up back there. That might have been your noises. If you have insurance, you might (almost definitely) be better off seeing a neurologist for your headaches than a chiropractor- but if the chiro does help you, then I guess that’s good.

I have had some luck with a chiropractor, but it is expensive. I think of it as an advanced massage therapist.

It’s only a copay to go there, $15 per visit. Although it would definitely get expensive if I went more than 1-2x a month.

Alice–I did have a car accident a year ago, but I’ve been having headaches for a very long time. Ever since I was a teenager. It’s probably due to a combination of tension, stress, and posture. But who knows, I’m not a doctor.

It is my opinion that chronic/annoying pains are usually the result of weak and inactive muscles. Regular resistance training at the gym is the best cure. Yoga also works.

Lightened your wallet. Not all of what they do is bad, but it’s largely quackery.

Ibuprofen usage can cause headaches, as can withdrawal from Ibuprofen. At least so said a friend of mine that finally discovered the cause of his chronic headaches.

Chiropractors can relieve headaches and muscular and joint pain in a limited fashion. A lot of studies show this. But long term they really can’t do much.

I thought most chiropractors had stopped doing the neck snapping?

I am in firm agreement with both of these statements. You will notice that people who are physically and vigorously active but not engaging in activities that will result in repetitive stress or traumatic injuries (e.g. swimming, brisk walking or hiking, moderate resistance or weight training, et cetera) just don’t have the kind of incidence of joint injuries, exhaustion, nervous or non-specific maladies, et cetera. And it is because they enjoy an active metabolism, healthy circulation and respiration, well-balanced body strength (including tendons and ligaments), and have good natural posture because they aren’t compensating for some kind of weakness by unconsciously shielding their weaker faculties.

Going to a chiropractor can help alleviate some of this issues, but honestly, unless you have some kind of chronic illness or unhealed trauma, you can get the same effect from practicing Pilates or some form of yoga along with regular post-exercise stretching and foam rolling. You may also want to look into trigger point therapy, which also serves to release local muscle contraptions in the fascia and help stimulate good circulation. But don’t get sucked into the notion that you should have to have regular ongoing ‘therapy’ with a chiropractor any more than you need lifelong physical therapy to recover from an injury. The goal of chiropractic treatments should be to alleviate the basic injury or handicap sufficiently that you can strengthen or address the core malady (which is frequently poor circulation or bad posture due to lack of strength or bad habits) rather than to put the chiropractor’s children through college.


If I’m not mistaken, most headaches are muscular and rooted in the neck or shoulders, the scalp or the jawline area. If that’s is true, then a massage would help as much as a chiropractor and I think the chiropractor’s practice includes some massage or ‘manipulation’ of muscles, so I’d guess there are some similarities and/or overlap.

I suppose if you can see the chiropractor for less money that a masseuse, then that’s probably a good financial deal. I’m just wary of chiropractic treatment because it frequently seems to be associated with a lot of “woo woo” therapies. My local chiropractor’s office advertises chelation, Rekai (sp?) healing touch therapy and homeopathic remedies. My friend went there a couple of times for her chronic hip pain but wound up getting a total hip replacement anyway from a “Western” medical doctor.

I personally hate having my head/neck snapped like that. The last time someone did that to me (a “medical” masseuse who claimed to be a medical doctor in his home country), I had a nagging pain that lasted a week or so. The snapping of my neck actually caused more problems than it cured.

Chiropractic manipulation can cause vertebral artery dissection.


Holy shrift! A **Stranger **reply, in *my *thread? Mercy, I do believe I’m gettin’ the vapors. :wink:

Oh, and thank you kindly for the excellent advice, as always.

This is actually what first interested me in going to the chiropractor. My new insurance is really good, so I thought a visit would be like getting insurance to pay for a massage. It had a little in common with a massage, it was quicker and more punishing. It was totally lacking in woo, too. No discussion of alternative therapies or “energy,” no supplement-pushing. She just encouraged me to try eliminating artificial sweeteners from my diet, but that’s good advice for anybody.

That’s what freaks me out about it. It doesn’t sound like it happens often, but that’s a pretty hefty risk. :frowning:

Certainly a rare occurrence, but even a very small chance of permanent paralysis or death from a procedure with no confirmed benefit* is way too big of a chance to take.

Never ever let a chiro near your neck.

*chiros will sometimes cite a research study purporting to show that neck cracking is effective against hypertension. What they don’t tell you is that it was a small study with limited followup, and used a specialized technique in which the vast majority of chiros are not trained.

My husband is a D.O, and though he doesn’t use it often, he will do manual work on a patient under certain circumstances.

Mostly it’s me he works on that way - my lower back and my neck lock up periodically, especially if I’ve had a very physical week or a very stressful, tense time. I get ferocious headaches when my neck gets that way, and I can’t sleep when my lower back/sacrum locks. OTC meds only do so much at that point, and a good “crunch session” generally helps enormously.

It’s a wicked awful sound, but damn it feels good when things are loose and moving again!

A friend of mine wasn’t so lucky, despite me warning him to stay from these people. His neck was a bit stiff from golf, but wasn’t nothing he thought was too serious. He had a chiropractor that was going to do some adjustments to his neck. After snapping his neck, he said it was as close he had come to completely passing out. Now the pain was intense, and it wouldn’t go away at all. A week or two later, he goes to a regular doctor because the pain had been worst since the chiropractor visit. Doctor said there were some bone fragments in his neck that were starting to saw away on his spinal cord and that he needed immediate surgery.

During surgery the doctor came out and told the family it was worse than he thought, and the odds were 90% that he would be paralyzed from the neck down, assuming he even lived through this, but that he did everything he could. Amazingly he came out okay, but even the doctor admitted he got damn lucky this time. My friend was certain this was the result of his chiropractor visit. He visited one lawyer, along with before and after x-rays after visiting that particular chiropractor, but the lawyer advised him against suing the clinic, claiming it was difficult to prove such cases. He never pursued it further.

Not to defend chiropractors, who certainly include a large number of quacktastic members among their ranks, but despite what your friend thinks there is almost nothing a chiropractor could do that would result in fragmenting vertebrae. If he really had bone fragments near the spinal canal, that is an indication of either some kind of impact or crushing trauma that would be far beyond anything a person could do by hand, or a progressive deterioration of skeletal integrity that at most was exacerbated by the chiropractic manipulations. His lawyer was correct in warning him from pursuing a lawsuit.


I saw a chiropractor after I was rear ended. I had 4 appointments and they worked. I was having real shoulder pain and neck pain and the manipulations helped a great deal. He never suggested ongoing therapy or anything but dealing with the pain from the accident.

I guess I basically agree with this but don’t necessarily agree that you are going to get the same from regular Pilates classes. Chiropractor’s claim to fame is reducing subluxations, ie minor dislocations. What they do can indeed give relief but addressing muscle imbalance across the joint is the key to a long term fix. Exercise that specifically addresses the imbalance is key.

I went to a chiro when I was in college and never had any trouble, but I will say I excercise more now and get regular massages, and there’s never been any muscle tightness or locking up that hasn’t been solved by either time, a workout/stretch, or a massage.

And now I don’t have to worry about scary-ass side effects or getting served an unexpected plate of woo.