Neck adjustment will not hold

In April of 2020 after a stretch injury my medical doctor told me I needed to see a chiropractor to make sure my first rib was not compressing my brachial plexus.

The chiropractor I saw said there was no evidence of that and told me some nerve pain in arm and hand was totally neck related. I’ve never had neck pain or headaches; I agreed to an adjustment. The man was very set on adjustment, said I would be surprised... Devastated.. is the word I choose.. He never warned me that my neck might never hold. After he aggressively adjusted me. I saw several ER doctors for swelling and loss of circulation and extreme headaches. I felt I had no choice but to continue with chiropractic.

Upon my return to him he was very gruff, told me it was a mindset and was totally upset over my ER visit.

I saw a different chiropractor which said I should have never been adjusted. She immediately saw the problem I had. My collar bone and first three ribs were out, plus my SCM was contracting due to a strain. She took care of that in a couple visits.

My problem I’m left with is devastating; my neck will not hold the adjustment. I’m left with headaches, shoulder pain nerve pain and weakness in both arms and hands. After 30 odd adjustments the neck still will not hold.

A therapist told me they can’t help and a orthopedic said I’ll have to live with it. I’m a wife, a mom and lived a very active lifestyle. My life has been misery since my first adjustment 9 months now. What’s your suggestion?? Should I keep trying the adjustment or see a spine surgeon? Thanks for any info.

Dear Cedar,
You are miffed and not surprisingly so. I am unable to examine you, so you need
to take what I have to say with that in mind.

Firstly, are there any x-rays or scans of your lower neck? In particular, do you have a cervical rib? Was that swelling and loss of circulation in the arm? Do you remember if anyone tested the pulse in wrist whilst you turned your head into various positions, and simultaneously took in a deep breath? It's called Adson's test.

Secondly, have you been given any neck exercises and stretches? More about that with your reply.

Thirdly, think about your posture. Is your mouse arm supported at the computer, and are the screen and keyboard at the right heights? Do you sleep on your tum, and how many pillows do you use? Do you ever fall asleep in front of the TV, or in the car whilst sitting?

I will admit that some necks can be difficult, and I don't have a flawless record either. Frankly no one does. But it's my opinion that you have been over treated, but that is strictly my opinion, and I have never seen research on how much manipulation is good, and when is it too much.

Like antibiotics and other meds you can have too much.

I personally have a rule of thumb that a joint should not be manipulated more than 25 times in a year, and that's probably too much. Everything then becomes hypermobile and the neck adjustment does not hold.

Choose the best of the chiropractors you have seen, and ask if you can go just once a month say for a period.

You're in a difficult place and I have no quick fix. Ask your husband if he could massage your neck a few nights a week, or see a masseuse.

Give me a few answers to the questions above, and perhaps we can take this further. Good luck.

Dr B.R. Lewis DC

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