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The hidden dangers of Self-Adjusting

Cervical spine with vertebral artery


This article is a very much needed text that everyone who engages in self-adjustment should know about. Self-adjustment is defined as one who engages in attempting to manipulate spinal and other joints for the purposes of achieving an audible sound and endorphin release. For some this starts at an early age and continues long into adulthood. Today we will discuss the dangers associated engaging in this type of behavior.


The body is aware of the mal alignment it is experiencing but cannot fix it on its own. Intuitively, you try to help it along not realizing you are hurting yourself. A certain degree of force and vector is required to manipulate the structures of the body properly without inflicting damage. This can only be done by a licensed chiropractor.


Self-adjusting of the neck and lower back can cause ligament laxity, instability, premature arthritis, and weakening of the walls of the arteries of the neck, specifically the vertebral arteries. Often times, people who self-adjust themselves will find that the beneficial effect is only temporary and need to repeat the same thing 30 minutes later like an anxiety habit.


So what can go wrong? You have been doing it for years, so what's all the worry about. Weakening of the vertebral artery is a process that can occur over a period of years. Chiropractic treatment on a patient who has a history of constant self-adjustment can cause an unnecessary elevated risk for cerebrovascular incidents, but not due to the chiropractor. This is why it is necessary to disclose to your treating provider any information pertaining to your bad habits.


Arterial dissection is when an artery can separate from weakening. Some studies have indicated that there is a correlation to vertebral-basilar strokes from cervical spine adjusting. However, a study was done of patients who have neck pain and headaches who have been to both a medical practitioner and a chiropractor. The results of this study were inconclusive. Meaning the same number of patients who went to a medical doctor vs. a chiropractor experienced an equal number of issues. If the chiropractic adjustment was the sole cause, how did the patients who went to see the medical doctor without adjustment, still experienced the same number of vascular injuries. Suffering a vascular incident is not the only danger you should be aware of.


Vertebral artery dissection

Instability and pre-mature arthritis are also big risk factors. Evidence of spinal instability can be seen on x-rays. Arthritic changes can also be seen on x-rays due to a thickening or chalk-like appearance from increased pressure. Bony spurs may also be caused by instability from self-adjusting. Arthritis can be caused from hypermobility (too much movement) just the same as with hypomobility (dysfunctional movement). The common denominator being dysfunctional movement. However, self-adjusting is more likely to cause instability from hypermobility due to excessive adjusting several times a day.


Spondylosis in the cervical spine

As a patient, if you feel the need to attempt self-adjusting, make an appointment right away and don't take the risk of hurting/injuring yourself. If you have any questions regarding the material in this article, please contact the office for more information.









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