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Neck Adjustment Safety, Benefits, Side Effects, & Types

What is a neck adjustment?

A neck adjustment (cervical manipulation) is a precise procedure meant to relieve neck muscle tension, treat headaches, and align your upper spine. 

Neck adjustments, and chiropractic adjustments in general, may be great alternatives to surgery and pharmaceuticals for certain patients looking for a less invasive approach.

The science behind neck adjustments by qualified professionals is much more substantial.

How do you know if you need a neck adjustment? You may need a neck adjustment if you experience any ailments such as chronic neck pain, shoulder pain, chronic headaches, migraines, Ménière’s disease, post concussion syndrome, balance issues, or any other health & neurological problems that neck adjustments have been shown to treat. If you are curious about if a neck adjustment is right for you, contact us.

Is a chiropractic neck adjustment safe? Yes, a chiropractic neck adjustment is safe. When performed by a qualified professional, neck adjustments are more about aligning the upper cervical spine than cracking the neck

Upper cervical chiropractors use instruments to deliver safer, more precise neck adjustments than typical chiropractors. These instrument-assisted adjustments are painless and less jaring, whereas typical neck adjustments may lead to some discomfort for some people.

How does a chiropractor adjust your neck?

A conventional chiropractor may adjust you any one of a number of different ways. They may use their hands or perhaps a specialized table or other instruments to make adjustments.

A qualified upper cervical chiropractor adjusts your neck using very precise manual or instrument assisted adjustments — some table-mounted and some handheld. These instrument-assisted neck adjustments are very safe, very precise, and very comfortable.

Some chiropractors “adjust” your neck by cracking it somewhat violently. That’s their main focus, and it’s the wrong focus. High-velocity chiropractic manipulation increases the risk of adverse effects.

Are neck adjustments safe?

Yes, neck adjustments are safe when performed by a trained and licensed professional. Qualified chiropractors should be more focused on neck alignment than “cracking” your neck, which may increase the risk of blood vessel strain.

Upper cervical chiropractors use precise, handheld instruments in their adjustments, which make a visit to the chiropractor even safer.

Neck adjustments lead to stroke or death significantly less often than:

  1. Having surgery
  2. Driving a car
  3. Using ibuprofen
  4. Taking oral contraceptives
  5. Going to work

There is a 1 in 1,000,000-5,800,000 chance that improper neck adjustments may lead to stroke. (Some studies estimate stroke occurs in 1 out of half a million adjustments, while others estimate 1 out of 5.8 million. Many estimates fall in between.)

Why does my neck hurt after the chiropractor adjusted it? Your neck may hurt after the chiropractor adjusted it because the realigned vertebrae have moved slightly. This can lead to soreness in your muscles or spinal joints, but don’t worry. It’s a sign that alignment has happened.

Benefits of Neck Adjustments

Side Effects

There is a small possibility that neck adjustments may:

Of course, instrument-assisted adjustments from upper cervical chiropractors are a lot safer and more precise than typical neck adjustments. 

When you get an upper cervical adjustment at Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, you can rest assured that your safety and overall healthcare is our top concern.

Traditional Chiropractic vs. Upper Cervical Neck Adjustment

Traditional chiropractors tend to treat the whole spine with manual therapy, manipulation, and mobilization (“manual” just means using the hands).

Many crack your back or neck, which shouldn’t be the goal of chiropractic care. Also, traditional chiropractic adjustments may include quick, rough, uncomfortable motions.

Upper cervical chiropractors focus on the upper two vertebrae of your spine (C1 and C2, or the atlas and the axis), which are in the neck area. Using instrument-assisted adjustments, upper cervical neck adjustments are safer, more comfortable, and more precise.

Also, upper cervical chiropractors emphasize precise diagnostics using x-rays that closely follow patients’ progress after each manipulative therapy session.

Dr. Ty Carzoli owns and operates Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic. He is an orthospinology expert qualified in upper cervical spinal adjustments, but he is also qualified to work on the whole spine.

However, Dr. Carzoli has found that many health problems can be addressed with upper cervical chiropractic care alone.

Schedule a Neck Adjustment in Denver, CO

Set up your appointment with Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic for safe, precise, painless, instrument-assisted neck adjustments. We reserve Fridays for out of town patients.

New patient? Find out what you should expect and how to move forward.

Want to hear more about Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic? Our patients’ success stories speak for themselves.

20 million Americans visit chiropractors each year, according to the American Chiropractic Association. They are looking for relief from lower back pain, migraines, sciatica, car accident injuries, and so much more. You could make that number 20,000,001.


  1. Harrison, E. M., Drake, T. M., O’Neill, S., Shaw, C. A., Garden, O. J., & Wigmore, S. J. (2016). Individual surgeon mortality rates: can outliers be detected? A national utility analysis. BMJ open, 6(10). Full text: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/10/e012471
  2. Tramèr, M. R., Moore, R. A., Reynolds, D. J. M., & McQuay, H. J. (2000). Quantitative estimation of rare adverse events which follow a biological progression: a new model applied to chronic NSAID use. Pain, 85(1-2), 169-182. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10692616
  3. Gillum, L. A., Mamidipudi, S. K., & Johnston, S. C. (2000). Ischemic stroke risk with oral contraceptives: a meta-analysis. Jama, 284(1), 72-78. Full text: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10872016/
  4. U.S. Bureau of Statistics. (2015). Injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Full text: https://www.bls.gov/iif/
  5. Lauretti, W. (2006). What are the risk of chiropractic neck treatments. Retrieved online. Full text: https://chiro.org/chimages/chiropage/cva-1.html
  6. Haldeman, S., Carey, P., Townsend, M., & Papadopoulos, C. (2001). Arterial dissections following cervical manipulation: the chiropractic experience. Cmaj, 165(7), 905-906. Full text: https://www.cmaj.ca/content/165/7/905.full
  7. Bryans, R., Decina, P., Descarreaux, M., Duranleau, M., Marcoux, H., Potter, B., … & White, E. (2014). Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with neck pain. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 37(1), 42-63. Full text: https://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161-4754(13)00237-6/fulltext

Orthospinology is a subspecialty of chiropractic healthcare targeted to the upper cervical spine.

Fixing misalignments in your upper spine can address a surprising number of health problems. Seizures, chronic migraine, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure — orthospinology has lead to improvement in the quality of life for people suffering from many different conditions.

At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we employ the evidence-based techniques of orthospinology to bring relief to patients who have found little success with side effect-laden medications or want to avoid invasive surgeries.

Listen to real customer testimonials about how upper cervical care worked for them.

Keep reading to find out more about orthospinology, including which conditions it treats and what to expect from a visit to a qualified orthospinology expert.

What is orthospinology?

Orthospinology is a gentle chiropractic technique that aligns the upper cervical spine to reduce pain, promote overall wellness, and relieve chronic health conditions. Orthospinology is a proven conservative alternative after pharmaceuticals and surgery fail. 

Performed properly, upper cervical chiropractic care should actually eliminate the need for these more invasive treatments.

This subspecialty of chiropractic care focuses on the upper cervical spine, which consists of the upper 2 vertebrae:

  1. Atlas, or C1
  2. Axis, or C2

Dr. John F. Grostic developed the Grostic technique in the 1940s. From the beginning, the focus of this technique was on maximizing the specificity of the analysis as well as the precision of the adjustments. 

In the 1970s, Dr. John D. Grostic continued his father’s research. He expanded the list of adverse effects on the central nervous system due to upper cervical spinal misalignment, based on overwhelming evidence.

Orthospinology was birthed out of the Grostic technique. Clinicians sought to improve the reproducibility of the adjustments and minimize human error by switching to an instrument-assisted style of adjusting. This allows for increased specificity and precision as well as equally gentle adjustments to many other upper cervical techniques. 

Upper cervical chiropractic care is gentle, not rough. We are not trying to crack your back; we are fixing how your spinal cord communicates with your brain stem. It’s one thing that sets orthospinology apart from other chiropractic — it doesn’t require rough motions or cracking.

National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) defines and regulates the practice of manually adjusting the upper cervical subluxation complex based on x-ray analysis. 

NUCCA has a negligible different analysis from orthospinology — NUCCA adjustments are usually done by hand, whereas orthospinology uses instruments. Usually, a patient who has good outcomes at a NUCCA office will have a good experience at an Orthospinology practice, and vice versa. 

Atlas Orthogonal is slightly different from orthospinology, though they are both upper cervical low-force procedures. 

The Atlas Orthogonal technique looks the most like an orthospinology adjustment, but the instrument delivers the adjustment with a “percussive force” (essentially, a sound wave). 

The orthospinology technique utilizes a similar percussive instrument for some types of misalignments, and a larger table mounted instrument with a slight mechanical excursion for others. 

What causes neck misalignment?

What causes atlas subluxation? Traumatic injury is usually what leads to Atlas Subluxation Complex — or, a subluxation in your top vertebra. Poor posture and repeated injuries are common risk factors that worsen atlas subluxation.

What happens when C2 is out of alignment? When the C2 (axis) is out of alignment, you can expect pain, numbness, weakness, or even loss of bladder/bowel control. You should seek upper cervical chiropractic care to correct C2 misalignment to avoid chronic health problems and long-term complications.

What to Expect During Orthospinology Treatment

During orthospinology treatment, you can expect an initial consultation. On your first visit, many upper cervical chiropractors will not administer an adjustment. Precise analysis and diagnostics are essential to orthospinology, so the chiropractor often wants a few days to process the results.

At your initial consultation, your upper cervical chiropractor may do a physical exam, digital x-ray analysis, and maybe even a cognitive exam.

On your second visit, chiropractors will typically perform the first adjustment.

Upper cervical adjustments are gentle. Forget about those rough twists and cracks. Orthospinology is gentle enough for children and grandmas alike.

These adjustments are often instrument-assisted. Sometimes, the instruments will be handheld. Other times, the instruments are mounted on advanced equipment.

This video helps you know what to expect from an orthospinology adjustment.

At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we also have a post-adjustment room for patients to relax and cool down after spinal realignment. Our calming post-adjustment room contains:

Here in our offices, we may also recommend upper and lower back stretches to help with certain conditions.

How long does it take to realign your spine? It takes one adjustment to start realigning your spine. The total number of visits and how much improvement your chiropractor can promise varies by case and depends on the condition of the patient. 

However, a handful of visits to your chiropractor every year are likely needed to maintain spinal alignment.

The Orthospinology Technique: Before and After

orthospinology before x-ray
orthospinology after x-ray
orthospinology chiropractic before after x-ray

You can see in the above pictures that an orthospinology adjustment corrects a misaligned upper spine.

orthospinology before posture picture
orthospinology after posture picture

These before and after pictures from www.orthospinology.org show an average individual and how misaligned their spine may be before a spinal correction.

orthospinology leg check before image
orthospinology leg check after image

Another method upper cervical chiropractors use is analyzing functional leg length by comparing the patient’s heels before and after adjustments.

Benefits of Orthospinology

Orthospinology aims to improve nervous system function, immune system function, and overall health and wellness. But what specifically do upper cervical procedures treat?

According to peer-reviewed research and case studies, the possible benefits of orthospinology/upper cervical care include improving the quality of life for patients with medical conditions such as:

  1. Lower back pain
  2. Neck pain
  3. Knee pain
  4. Headaches and migraines
  5. Seizures
  6. Scoliosis
  7. Fibromyalgia
  8. Multiple sclerosis
  9. Parkinson’s symptoms
  10. Bowel dysfunction
  11. Asthma
  12. Low blood pressure
  13. High blood pressure
  14. Immune dysfunction (including when related to HIV)
  15. Tourette’s syndrome
  16. Cerebral palsy
  17. Autism spectrum disorder

The Orthospinology Sub-Specialty of Chiropractic

Orthospinology is a subspecialty of the chiropractic profession. It takes many hours of additional education and certification before a chiropractor understands the complex structure and biomechanics of the upper cervical spine and is qualified to practice orthospinology.

A Doctor of Chiropractic degree is required as a prerequisite.

The Society of Chiropractic Orthospinology is a non-profit organization that trains chiropractors in orthospinology. They provide orthospinology training through various seminars and workshops and offer testing for certification as an Advanced Graduate of Orthospinology.

Once a chiropractor has gone through the necessary education and certification, individual patients can be confident in the effectiveness of the adjustments to their upper cervical spine.

Orthospinology in the Denver, CO Area

At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we have administered countless upper cervical adjustments and witnessed amazing success stories. Orthospinology is critical to proper body function and overall health.

Set up your appointment right away. We reserve Friday for patients traveling from outside of Denver, CO.

New patient? Learn what to expect and how to move forward.

Find out about Dr. Ty Carzoli and his unique approach to spinal care.


  1. Woodfield III, H. C., York, C., Rochester, R. P., Bales, S., Beebe, M., Salminen, B., & Scholten, J. N. (2015). Craniocervical chiropractic procedures–a précis of upper cervical chiropractic. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 59(2), 173. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4486989/
  3. Rochester, R. P. (2009). Neck pain and disability outcomes following chiropractic upper cervical care: a retrospective case series. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 53(3), 173. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2732255/
  4. Chaibi, A., & Tuchin, P. J. (2011). Chiropractic spinal manipulative treatment of migraine headache of 40-year duration using Gonstead method: a case study. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 10(3), 189-193. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3259914/
  5. Nick Tedder, D. C., Adam Tedder, D. C., & Stephen, J. Resolution of chronic fibromyalgia and improved spinal curves following correction of an atlas subluxation: a case report & selective review of the literature. Abstract: https://www.vertebralsubluxationresearch.com/2015/07/13/resolution-of-chronic-fibromyalgia-and-improved-spinal-curves-following-correction-of-an-atlas-subluxation-a-case-report-selective-review-of-the-literature/
  6. Bova, J., & Sergent, A. (2014). Chiropractic management of an 81-year-old man with Parkinson disease signs and symptoms. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 13(2), 116-120. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4322011/
  7. Hannah, J. S. (2009). Changes in systolic and diastolic blood pressure for a hypotensive patient receiving upper cervical specific: a case report. Chiropractic Journal of Australia, 39(3), 118. Abstract: https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=354754121398890;res=IELHEA
  8. John D. Grostic, Jeffrey L. Selano, Brett C. Hightower, Bruce Pfleger, Karen Freeley Collins. (1994). The Effects of Specific Upper Cervical Adjustments on the CD4 Counts of HIV Positive Patients. Full text: https://www.upcspine.com/dloads/rs80.pdf
  9. Noriega, A., Chung, J., & Brown, J. (2012). Improvement in a 6 year-old child with autistic spectrum disorder and nocturnal enuresis under upper cervical chiropractic care. Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research, 1, 1-8. Abstract: https://www.vertebralsubluxationresearch.com/2011/01/30/improvement-in-a-6-year-old-child-with-autistic-spectrum-disorder-and-nocturnal-enuresis-under-upper-cervical-chiropractic-care/

Chronic back pain, neck pain, and neurological conditions are not a normal part of aging. Often, the pangs of “old age” are really old injuries that never truly recovered.

A conventional approach to medicine is to treat individual symptoms as if they exist in a vacuum. Pharmaceuticals and harsh, unnatural treatments for disease are often ineffectual at more than masking symptoms.

As an alternative, upper cervical chiropractic care takes a precision approach to not only treating health problems, but giving your body what it needs to thrive from head to toe. The best upper cervical chiropractic practices walk you through your treatment plan and provide visual results to show you how far you’ve come. 

Of course I’d say that — I’m an upper cervical chiropractor. 

Unfortunately for the skeptics, both patient testimonials and years of published and peer-reviewed research supports my viewpoint. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be an upper cervical chiropractor.

What is upper cervical chiropractic?

Upper cervical chiropractic care focuses on correcting misalignments in the upper neck region of your spine — called subluxations or, more specifically, upper cervical subluxations.

Upper cervical spine chiropractors concentrate on the upper two vertebrae of the spine, called C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis).

Upper cervical care tends to be gentler than general chiropractic, making it a great option for sensitive patients.

Upper cervical manipulation affects the whole body by adjusting the upper spine, which allows the central nervous system to properly communicate with the rest of your body.

As an upper cervical chiropractor, I use frequent x-rays and 3D technology to determine exactly where a vertebra may need adjustment. Misaligned vertebrae interfere with the spinal cord and brainstem, leading to ineffective or dysfunctional nervous system signalling.

During an adjustment, I use the Laney Torque Specific Cervical Adjusting Instrument. This state-of-the-art instrument makes incredibly gentle adjustments. Only 65 Laneys have ever been made, and I use the only one in the state of Colorado.

There are many philosophies of chiropractic. At Denver Upper Cervical, our philosophy is that we can show you the before, during, and after effects of your treatment plan by utilizing cutting-edge tech and the most up-to-date scientific literature.

Our patients don’t spend hours each week in the office. Their treatment plans are designed to get them out of the office and back to doing the things they enjoy.

What is NUCCA?

NUCCA stands for National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association. NUCCA is a leading organization on the standard of care in upper cervical care.

NUCCA procedures are well-researched chiropractic treatment methods that encourage figuring out the exact nature of your misalignment, then gently and safely correcting that spinal misalignment.

NUCCA registered chiropractors (AKA NUCCA doctors) are located across the country, equipped to gently handle spinal subluxations and restore overall health.

Conditions Treated by Upper Cervical Chiropractic

There are many medical conditions treated by upper cervical chiropractic care. The most common are:

  1. Neck pain
  2. Back pain
  3. Headaches and migraines
  4. Post-concussion syndrome
  5. Vertigo and Meniere’s disease
  6. Fibromyalgia and fatigue
  7. Autoimmune disease
  8. Blood pressure
  9. TMJ disorders
  10. Sleep disturbances
  11. Trouble breathing
  12. Muscle weakness
  13. Poor posture
  14. Sciatica

1. Neck Pain

Neck pain and shoulder pain are prevalent throughout the worldwide population. It is a primary reason people visit the chiropractor.

Whether it is due to injury or disease, upper cervical chiropractic care has been shown to reverse neck pain and shoulder pain.

2. Back Pain

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic back pain. One of the main reasons for chiropractic treatment is relieving back pain — short-term or long-term.

Counterintuitively, adjusting subluxations in your upper spine may actually reverse low back pain!

Chiropractic treatment may bring immediate pain relief. For some, it may take several weeks of spinal adjustments.

3. Headaches and Migraines

Chiropractic care improves headaches and migraines.

Headaches can be caused by:

Stress, posture, tension, and subluxations are all treatable by chiropractic care. This can lead to reduced headaches and/or migraines.

4. Post-Concussion Syndrome

Post-concussion syndrome (also called PCS) is when your concussion symptoms persist for 6 weeks after the initial head injury. Chiropractors may be able to treat PCS.

Concussion symptoms include headache and dizziness, to mention a few. If concussion symptoms last for more than a month and a half without subsiding, consider visiting a chiropractor right away.

Chiropractic care has been shown to improve outcomes after a concussion, reducing symptoms and helping people get back to their normal lives.

5. Vertigo and Meniere’s Disease

Upper cervical chiropractic care often improves vertigo and Meniere’s disease, which are two closely connected disorders.

Vertigo is feeling dizzy or off balance. Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can lead to vertigo.

Vertigo is a common symptom of Meniere’s disease. Upper cervical chiropractic care may treat Meniere’s disease and its symptoms:

Upper cervical chiropractic care may improve patients’ Meniere’s disease and vertigo symptoms surprisingly immediately.

6. Fibromyalgia and Fatigue

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder of the bones and muscles, and its chief symptom is persistent fatigue. Upper cervical chiropractic care is well known to treat fibromyalgia.

In fibromyalgia, signals travel through your brainstem to tell your brain there is pain when there is actually no pain. Spinal readjustments by a doctor of chiropractic correct these signals.

Chiropractic treatments seem to treat fatigue due to other reasons as well.

7. Autoimmune Disease

Doctors of chiropractic treat many autoimmune diseases and inflammatory conditions, such as:

8. Blood Pressure

Hundreds of millions of people in the world suffer from high blood pressure, also called hypertension.

Interestingly, multiple studies indicate that chiropractic care may be able to lower blood pressure in hypertensive adults.

9. TMJ Disorders

TMJ stands for “temporomandibular joint”, but TMJ can also refer to TMJ disorders (TMD), which can be treated by chiropractic care.

The TMJ connects your jaw to your skull. The TMJ is the most used joint in the body. You use the TMJ when:

TMJ disorders (sometimes called TMD) may be caused by:

Trigeminal neuralgia is another disorder that is sometimes confused with TMD. Trigeminal neuralgia is caused by irritated cranial nerves.

Both TMD and trigeminal neuralgia can be effectively treated with upper cervical chiropractic care.

10. Sleep Disturbances

Chiropractors treat low back pain that can lead to sleep disturbances.

Patients widely report improved sleep after chiropractic care.

Because sleep issues can stem from different health problems, results are less consistent than other benefits of upper cervical chiropractic care.

11. Trouble Breathing

Many patients report better breathing capacity immediately following a chiropractic adjustment.

Research shows chiropractic care improves the following disorders that make breathing harder:

12. Muscle Weakness

Chiropractic care can treat muscle weakness, even in stroke patients.

Often, chiropractors will show patients the immediate benefits of chiropractic care by testing strength before and after a spinal adjustment. The before-after strength test exemplifies how effective chiropractic is.

13. Poor Posture

Chiropractic adjustments are known to correct poor posture, also called structural rehabilitation.

Poor posture is widespread across the country. It can lead to headaches, chronic pain, and other health problems if not treated.

14. Sciatica

Sciatica is a condition that results in widespread pain, but sciatica can be treated by chiropractic care.

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body. When the sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed, pain radiates throughout your:

Chiropractic care has been shown to treat sciatica, compared to “placebo” spinal manipulations, making the research more reliable.

Are upper cervical adjustments dangerous?

No, upper cervical adjustments are not dangerous. Upper cervical chiropractic comes with very few risks when administered by a credentialed doctor of chiropractic.

The most commonly reported side effect of upper cervical adjustments is muscle soreness.

How are upper cervical and general chiropractors different?

Upper cervical chiropractors focus on the top two vertebrae (C1, called the atlas; and C2, called the axis), whereas general chiropractors spread their attention to the entire spine.

Upper cervical doctors focus on the neck region of the spine because the underlying cause of a lot of chronic conditions, even lower back pain, is rooted in the neck region and upper spine.

Upper cervical chiropractors tend to use gentle manipulations of the neck and spine — also called low force correction

You won’t see any of those hard-to-look-away YouTube videos of chiropractors cracking necks like a rag doll. General chiropractors are more likely to employ those techniques.

Is upper cervical chiropractic right for you?

Upper cervical chiropractic is right for most people. The majority of the US population lives with physical weakness, chronic pain, or healthcare problems they do not even notice.

Upper cervical care can both treat and prevent countless health conditions, even if you didn’t know you suffered from them.

Not only does scientific research confirm this, but our patients at Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic prove it every day.

Set up an appointment with us today by clicking “request appointment” at the top of the page. 


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  3. Bryans, R., Descarreaux, M., Duranleau, M., Marcoux, H., Potter, B., Ruegg, R., … & White, E. (2011). Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 34(5), 274-289. Full text: https://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161-4754%2811%2900068-6/fulltext
  4. Haas, M., Groupp, E., Aickin, M., Fairweather, A., Ganger, B., Attwood, M., … & Baffes, L. (2004). Dose response for chiropractic care of chronic cervicogenic headache and associated neck pain: a randomized pilot study. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 27(9), 547-553. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15614241/
  5. Olson, H. M., Tunning, M. J., & Boesch, R. J. (2016). Chiropractic Management of Musculoskeletal Symptoms in a 14-year-old hockey player with Postconcussion symptoms: a case report. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 15(3), 208-213. Ful text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5021900/
  6. Gergen, D. M. (2015). Management of mild traumatic brain injury symptoms in a 31-year-old woman using cervical manipulation and acupuncture: a case report. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 14(3), 220-224. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4685187/
  7. Kendall, J. C., French, S. D., Hartvigsen, J., & Azari, M. F. (2018). Chiropractic treatment including instrument-assisted manipulation for non-specific dizziness and neck pain in community-dwelling older people: a feasibility randomised sham-controlled trial. Chiropractic & manual therapies, 26(1), 14. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5943997/
  8. Rodine, R. J., & Aker, P. (2010). Trigeminal neuralgia and chiropractic care: a case report. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 54(3), 177. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921783/
  9. Emary, P. C. (2010). Chiropractic management of a 40-year-old female patient with Ménière disease. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 9(1), 22-27. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3081245/
  10. Schneider, M., Vernon, H., Ko, G., Lawson, G., & Perera, J. (2009). Chiropractic management of fibromyalgia syndrome: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 32(1), 25-40. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19121462/
  11. Arick, C. T. (2016). Chiropractic Management of a Patient With Chronic Fatigue: A Case Report. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 15(4), 314-320. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5106444/
  12. Holtzman, D., & Burke, J. (2007). Nutritional counseling in the chiropractic practice: a survey of New York practitioners. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 6(1), 27-31. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647073/
  13. Bakris, G., Dickholtz, M., Meyer, P. M., Kravitz, G., Avery, E., Miller, M., … & Bell, B. (2007). Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients: a pilot study. Journal of human hypertension, 21(5), 347-352. Full text: https://www.nature.com/articles/1002133
  14. McMasters, K. L., Wang, J., York, J., Hart, J., Neely, C., & Delain, R. J. (2013). Blood pressure changes in African American patients receiving chiropractic care in a teaching clinic: a preliminary study. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 12(2), 55-59. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3730295/
  15. Sribastav, S. S., Peiheng, H., Jun, L., Zemin, L., Fuxin, W., Jianru, W., … & Zhaomin, Z. (2017). Interplay among pain intensity, sleep disturbance and emotion in patients with non-specific low back pain. PeerJ, 5, e3282. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5436560/
  16. Wearing, J., Beaumont, S., Forbes, D., Brown, B., & Engel, R. (2016). The use of spinal manipulative therapy in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 22(2), 108-114. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4761829/
  17. Senzon, S. A. (2018). The chiropractic vertebral subluxation part 4: new perspectives and theorists from 1916 to 1927. Journal of chiropractic humanities, 25, 52-66. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6472125/
  18. Hawk, C., Khorsan, R., Lisi, A. J., Ferrance, R. J., & Evans, M. W. (2007). Chiropractic care for nonmusculoskeletal conditions: a systematic review with implications for whole systems research. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13(5), 491-512. Full text: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17604553/
  19. Brozovich, T. A. (2017). THE REDUCTION OF ASTHMA SYMPTOMS AND MEDICATION AFTER CHIROPRACTIC CARE. Chiropractic Journal of Australia, 45(2). Abstract: https://web.b.ebscohost.com/abstract?direct=true&profile=ehost&scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl=10360913&asa=Y&AN=123579585&h=wHBI%2bdCCwUDkjWrWC8B3tuiidOUVKkoy8%2bOlUrSKab35Rouy698cPs%2bM1CVjw%2bC595t8SDMUO7a0j7T0mAJv6w%3d%3d&crl=c&resultNs=AdminWebAuth&resultLocal=ErrCrlNotAuth&crlhashurl=login.aspx%3fdirect%3dtrue%26profile%3dehost%26scope%3dsite%26authtype%3dcrawler%26jrnl%3d10360913%26asa%3dY%26AN%3d123579585
  20. Laoudikou, M. T., & McCarthy, P. W. (2020). Patients with cancer. Is there a role for chiropractic?. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 64(1), 32. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7250516/
  21. Holt, K., Niazi, I. K., Nedergaard, R. W., Duehr, J., Amjad, I., Shafique, M., … & Haavik, H. (2019). The effects of a single session of chiropractic care on strength, cortical drive, and spinal excitability in stroke patients. Scientific reports, 9(1), 1-10. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6389925/
  22. Oakley, P. A., Harrison, D. D., Harrison, D. E., & Haas, J. W. (2005). Evidence-based protocol for structural rehabilitation of the spine and posture: review of clinical biomechanics of posture (CBP®) publications. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 49(4), 270. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1840024/
  23. Schulz, C. A., Hondras, M. A., Evans, R. L., Gudavalli, M. R., Long, C. R., Owens, E. F., … & Bronfort, G. (2011). Chiropractic and self-care for back-related leg pain: design of a randomized clinical trial. Chiropractic & manual therapies, 19(1), 8. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3072925/

Lumbago is a general term for low back pain. In fact, the two terms were once used interchangeably. However, “lumbago” is an outdated term, and nowadays, doctors try to only use more specific terms when talking about back pain.

On any given day, it is estimated 12% of people experience lumbago/low back pain.

Fortunately, back pain can often be treated with chiropractic care. Chiropractic patients consistently report higher satisfaction rates than those that go to physical therapy or a primary care physician.

Click here to set up your appointment at Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic. Our patients and their success stories speak for themselves. (We reserve Fridays for out of town patients.)

In this article, you’ll learn about the causes, risk factors, and treatment options for lumbago, as well as how to prevent low back pain.

What is lumbago?

Lumbago is a common condition that basically means lower back pain. Lumbago/low back pain isn’t a single disease — instead, it is a symptom of many different medical conditions.

However, “lumbago” was deemed too general a term by the medical community. These days, healthcare professionals use more specific terminology to describe low back pain.

The causes of lumbago are what doctors tend to refer to, instead of the term “lumbago”. For example, if your lumbago is caused by back muscle strain, doctors would call that low back pain due to muscle strain, instead of using the term lumbago.

4 in 5 people living in developed countries will experience a type of lumbago at some time in their lives.

Is lumbago a real disease? No, lumbago is not a disease. It’s a general term for the symptom of low back pain. Also, “lumbago” is an outdated term for low back pain, so doctors tend to use more specific terms nowadays, such as sciatica or spinal stenosis.

Causes of Low Back Pain

What is the cause of lumbago? Below are 15 medical conditions that may cause lumbago and low back pain:

  1. Muscle strain
  2. Ligament injury
  3. Sciatica
  4. Osteoporosis
  5. Osteoarthritis
  6. Spinal stenosis (compression of the spinal nerves)
  7. Herniated disc
  8. Degenerative disc disease
  9. Scoliosis (or the related conditions lordosis and kyphosis)
  10. Tumors near the spine
  11. Fibromyalgia
  12. Spondylitis
  13. Spondylosis
  14. Osteomyelitis
  15. Broken bone near the spinal region
  16. Sprain

Likely, a healthcare professional will have to diagnose the underlying cause of your chronic low back pain before he or she recommends treatment options specific to your case.

Qualified professionals may x-ray your spinal cord or administer a physical examination before diagnosing the underlying cause.

Risk Factors

Here are the most common risk factors for low back pain:

Lumbago Symptoms

What are the signs of lumbago? Below are the warning signs and symptoms of lumbago:

Depending on the cause of lumbago, other symptoms may also occur. For example, if lumbago is caused by a herniated disc, the pain will increase while sitting but decrease when lying down. Lumbago due to scoliosis could also cause an abnormal curvature of the spine.

When to See a Doctor

Seek immediate medical attention if your low back pain is accompanied by a fever, unexplained weight loss, or new issues with your bladder or bowels. If low back pain appears after a fall or traumatic injury, see a doctor.


Possible treatment options for lumbago/low back pain include:

  1. Chiropractic careResearch indicates that chiropractic care is better and more cost-effective than taking medicine and/or visiting a primary care physician for back pain. Chiropractors leave their patients feeling less pain, less disabled, less dependent on drugs, and more satisfied.
  2. Physical therapy — Also called physiotherapy, physical therapy can teach you stretches and exercises that improve your posture and strengthen your back/core. Physical therapists should be able to improve your range of motion and strengthen your musculoskeletal system so future injuries are less likely. Also, obesity and excess weight are risk factors for low back pain. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Pain medications — Many doctors prescribe pain-relieving pharmaceuticals to “treat” lumbago. Acetaminophen and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen treat symptoms, not the root cause. These pain medications are for pain management only and not recommended as long-term treatment.
  4. Injections — There are various injections doctors may administer to treat back pain, depending on the underlying cause. Nerve block injections provide temporary pain relief for low back pain by blocking pain receptors. Facet joint injections treat neck pain and back pain by introducing anesthetic and steroids to the affected facet joint. Epidural steroid injections reduce inflammation around the spinal nerves. Botulinum toxin A (botox) injections have been shown to improve chronic back pain in half of patients.
  5. Acupuncture — This strategic insertion of filiform needles has been shown to work better than a placebo at treating low back pain.
  6. Massage therapy — A massage may help ease tense or overworked muscles, which is a common cause of low back pain.
  7. Surgery — Surgical options are a last resort for most lumbago patients. A neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon may perform a spinal fusion, spinal laminectomy, discectomy, or nucleoplasty — to name a few common procedures.

Can lumbago be cured? Yes, depending on the underlying cause, lumbago/low back pain can be cured. If lumbago is caused by inflammation, a steroid injection may cure it. However, other lumbago-causing medical conditions cannot be permanently cured, like osteoporosis.


6 tips on preventing low back pain:

  1. Regularly practice low-impact aerobic exercises. They make your back feel better in the short-term, and they help you maintain a healthy weight in the long-term.
  2. Build muscle strength, particularly in your lumbar region.
  3. Quit smoking, which increases your risk of low back pain.
  4. Practice good posture. Treat it like exercise. Sit perfectly for a few minutes one day, then increase the time you consciously sit with perfect posture until it’s second nature.
  5. Avoid heavy lifting. If you must lift, then lift with your legs. Keep your back straight and only bend at your knees.
  6. Try yoga. It strengthens your back and abdomen muscles and promotes good posture.

Lumbago/low back pain is often brought on by long hours of sitting.

Long-Term Outlook

Most people experience low back pain (lumbago) at some point in their life. Just because it’s common doesn’t mean you have to live with it.

Seek treatment and stop relying on pain medications and the adverse side effects — get treated for the root cause of your back pain.

At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we have administered countless chiropractic adjustments and seen amazing success stories. Gentle spinal adjustments are critical in treating back pain. Click here to learn more about Dr. Ty Carzoli and his unique approach to spine health.

New patient? Click here to learn what to expect and how to move forward.


  1. Hoy, D., Bain, C., Williams, G., March, L., Brooks, P., Blyth, F., … & Buchbinder, R. (2012). A systematic review of the global prevalence of low back pain. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 64(6), 2028-2037. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22231424/
  2. Allan, G. M., & Manning, M. A. (2017). Spinal manipulative therapy for low back pain-time for an update Response. CANADIAN FAMILY PHYSICIAN, 63(9), 672-673. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5597007/
  3. Khodakarami, N. (2020, March). Treatment of Patients with Low Back Pain: A Comparison of Physical Therapy and Chiropractic Manipulation. In Healthcare (Vol. 8, No. 1, p. 44). Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4364128/
  4. Jabbari, B. (2012) Botox Treatment of Chronic Refractory Low Back Pain. Practical Pain Management, 5(6). Full text: https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/pain/spine/botox-treatment-chronic-refractory-low-back-pain
  5. Liu, L., Skinner, M., McDonough, S., Mabire, L., & Baxter, G. D. (2015). Acupuncture for low back pain: an overview of systematic reviews. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4364128/
  6. Green, B. N., Johnson, C. D., Snodgrass, J., Smith, M., & Dunn, A. S. (2016). Association between smoking and back pain in a cross-section of adult Americans. Cureus, 8(9). Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5081254/

Back pain is discomfort and pain caused by injury or illness between the shoulders and the hips.

Back pain is not a disease, but a symptom of various medical conditions, such as osteoporosis, sciatica, and general muscle strain.

65 million adults report a recent bout of acute (short-term) back pain, and 16 million suffer from chronic (persistent) back pain. Adults with back pain earn less income and spend more on healthcare than their counterparts without back pain.

Instead of living with back pain, improve your overall quality of life by getting your back pain treated. Just because it’s common doesn’t mean you have to live with it!

Let’s cover the common causes, risk factors, and the best treatment options for back pain.

What Causes Back Pain?

The most common causes of back pain are:

What causes back pain in females? These are conditions that cause back pain that apply more to women than men:

Risk Factors for Back Pain

What are the risk factors for back pain?

  1. Poor posture
  2. Older age
  3. Obesity, excess weight
  4. Lack of exercise
  5. Heavy lifting, especially when it’s part of your occupation
  6. Sedentary lifestyle
  7. Smoking
  8. Pregnancy
  9. Genetics

Back Pain Symptoms

Here are the symptoms you may feel when you have back pain:

How do I know if my back pain is serious? Your back pain is serious if it is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  1. Incontinence
  2. Fever
  3. Unexplained weight loss
  4. Severe stomach pain
  5. Pain in both legs, instead of just one
  6. Issues with balance

Back pain should also be considered serious if it occurs shortly after an injury or accident (car accident, sports-related injury, fall, etc.).

Diagnosis for Back Pain 

Most healthcare professionals will ask about symptoms and perform a physical examination, medical history, and family history. But to diagnose the cause of your back pain, tests are often required.

Doctors tend to use the following tests to diagnose back pain:

How do you know if back pain is in the muscles or discs? Back pain is muscle-related if your back hurts more when you’re moving than when you’re still. Back pain is disc-related if moving relieves pain, if bending forward hurts more than returning to an upright position, and if pain radiates past your buttocks into your legs.

Treatment for Back Pain

What can I do to relieve my back pain? These 9 treatment options can relieve back pain:

  1. Chiropractic care
  2. Physical therapy
  3. Lifestyle changes
  4. Over-the-counter medication
  5. Prescription medications
  6. Injections
  7. Acupuncture
  8. Massage therapy
  9. Surgery

Always seek medical advice before you take back pain treatment into your own hands.

1. Chiropractic Care

Also called manual spinal manipulation, chiropractic care is a treatment plan in which a chiropractor adjusts spinal alignment and mobilizes the surrounding muscles and joints. 

Chiropractic care has been shown to effectively reduce back pain and neck pain.

Research indicates that chiropractic care is better and more cost-effective than taking medicine and/or visiting a primary care physician.

Chiropractors leave their patients feeling less pain, less disabled, less dependent on drugs, and more satisfied.

Different chiropractors may have different methods. At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we employ gentle spinal manipulations mainly to the upper spine. We do not treat our patients like rag dolls. Our approach is gentle enough for newborns and grandmas.

2. Physical Therapy

Also called physiotherapy, physical therapy for back pain sufferers uses stretches and exercises that improve posture and musculoskeletal strength.

Physical therapists also help to prevent future injuries through patient education and core muscle strengthening.

The stretches and exercises you learn may be difficult to remember if you are experiencing little or no pain. And once the pain comes back, it could take at least a day for the stretches and exercises to alleviate your pain.

So it’s important to remember to do your stretches and exercises learned at physical therapy, even if you aren’t experiencing back pain at that moment.

Also, obesity and excess weight are risk factors for low back pain. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight.

3. Lifestyle Changes

The following lifestyle changes may relieve or prevent back pain:

  1. Quit smoking.
  2. Eat healthy, to maintain healthy body weight.
  3. Exercise, but not high-resistance. Swimming is great for the spine.
  4. Do not sit for long periods of time.
  5. Sit with good posture.
  6. Lift with your legs/knees, not your back.
  7. Get plenty of high-quality sleep, according to health information from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
  8. If you are depressed, seek medical advice. Depression and low back pain are associated with one another, though it is unclear which causes which.
  9. Reduce your daily stress levels. Not only does stress increase your awareness of pain, but stress can also cause tension and strain in your back muscles leading to back pain.

4. Over-the-Counter Medications

Many experts recommend pain-relieving pharmaceuticals to “treat” back pain. This is a pretty medieval solution to a complex problem.

I suggest identifying the root cause of back pain and treating that root cause, so you don’t have to take side effect-laden drugs.

Acetaminophen can relieve acute low back pain. Studies show it works moderately better than a placebo for back pain. Side effects include abdominal pain, nausea, changes in appetite, headaches, yellowing of the skin, and dark urine.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen treat inflammation, which is often involved in back pain. Side effects of NSAIDs include stomach ulcers, indigestion, stomach aches, diarrhea, headaches, drowsiness, and dizziness.

These pain medications are for pain management only and should not be used for long-term treatment of back pain.

5. Prescription Medications

Doctors may prescribe you prescription medications, including extra-strength acetaminophen or NSAIDs.

They may also prescribe opioids, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, which interact with receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain to reduce pain.

However, you may have heard of the opioid epidemic. Opioids are famously over-prescribed and incredibly addictive.

Muscle relaxants reduce pain for a short period of time. But they are only recommended for back pain sufferers who also experience muscle spasms. The most common side effect is drowsiness.

Prescription antidepressants may relieve back pain even if the patient is not depressed. Antidepressants may lead to nausea, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, insomnia, diarrhea or constipation, and increased appetite/weight gain.

6. Injections

There are various injections your doctor may administer to treat back pain, depending on the root cause:

7. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the strategic insertion of filiform needles into trigger points to relieve back pain and other conditions.

Acupuncture works better than a placebo at treating chronic low back pain.

Dry needling is a modern, evidence-based practice very similar to acupuncture, except it is solely based on scientific research, not ancient traditional medicine.

8. Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is when a licensed professional manually manipulates muscles and soft tissues for stress reduction and pain relief.

A massage should help ease tense or overworked muscles, a common cause of back pain.

If back strain is causing your back pain and it isn’t going away, look for a highly-qualified massage therapist today.

9. Surgery

Surgical options are a last resort for most adults suffering from back pain. They may be necessary due to structural issues that cause pain, such as those resulting from an injury.

7 common surgeries for back pain:

  1. Spinal fusion
  2. Laminectomy (AKA spinal decompression)
  3. Discectomy
  4. Disc replacement
  5. Foraminotomy
  6. Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty
  7. Nucleoplasty (AKA plasma disk decompression)

How to Prevent Back Pain

9 helpful tips on how to prevent back pain:

  1. Stretch every morning and before doing any physical activity.
  2. Regularly do low-impact aerobic exercises. These improve your back pain in the short-term. They also help you maintain a healthy weight in the long-term, which is important since excess weight is a major risk factor for back pain.
  3. Build muscle strength, particularly in your core around your lower back.
  4. Quit smoking. It increases your risk of low back pain, possibly because nicotine more quickly degrades your discs.
  5. Try not to sit for long periods of time. Prolonged sitting often leads to back pain.
  6. Practice good posture. Practice a little bit each day, and eventually good posture will be second nature to you.
  7. Avoid heavy lifting. Do not apply to jobs which require constant heavy lifting.
  8. Lift with your legs, if you must lift. Keep the back straight and only bend at the knees.
  9. Try yoga. It promotes good posture and strengthens important core muscles.

Back pain can be brought on or worsened by sitting for long periods of time. The best way to combat it is to practice daily stretches to counteract a sedentary lifestyle and prevent chronic or acute back pain.

When to See A Doctor 

When should I be worried about lower back pain? You should be worried about lower back pain only if:

Seek immediate medical attention if your back pain accompanies fever, unexplained weight loss, or new issues with your bladder or bowels. These may indicate a serious condition.

If back pain pops up after a fall or a traumatic injury, visit your doctor ASAP.

Upper back pain is associated with an increased risk of kidney problems or cancer, more so than lower back pain.

On any given day, it is estimated 12% of human beings are experiencing low back pain. Just because it’s normal doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek treatment. Fortunately, back pain can often be treated with chiropractic care.

Click here to set up your appointment with Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic. Our patients’ success stories speak for themselves. (We reserve Fridays for out of town patients.)

New patient? Click here to learn what to expect and how to move forward.


  1. Bussières, A. E., Gauthier, C. A., Fournier, G., & Descarreaux, M. (2020). RE: Spinal Manipulative Therapy for Low Back Pain–Time for an update. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5597007/
  2. Bryans, R., Decina, P., Descarreaux, M., Duranleau, M., Marcoux, H., Potter, B., … & White, E. (2014). Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with neck pain. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 37(1), 42-63. Full text: https://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161-4754(13)00237-6/fulltext
  3. Liu, L., Skinner, M., McDonough, S., Mabire, L., & Baxter, G. D. (2015). Acupuncture for low back pain: an overview of systematic reviews. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4364128/
  4. Shi, Z., Zhou, H., Lu, L., Pan, B., Wei, Z., Yao, X., … & Feng, S. (2018). Aquatic exercises in the treatment of low back pain: a systematic review of the literature and meta-Analysis of eight studies. American journal of physical medicine & rehabilitation, 97(2), 116-122. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28759476/
  5. Robertson, D., Kumbhare, D., Nolet, P., Srbely, J., & Newton, G. (2017). Associations between low back pain and depression and somatization in a Canadian emerging adult population. The journal of the canadian chiropractic association, 61(2), 96. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5596967/
  6. Liu, L., Skinner, M., McDonough, S., Mabire, L., & Baxter, G. D. (2015). Acupuncture for low back pain: an overview of systematic reviews. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4364128/
  7. Green, B. N., Johnson, C. D., Snodgrass, J., Smith, M., & Dunn, A. S. (2016). Association between smoking and back pain in a cross-section of adult Americans. Cureus, 8(9). Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5081254/
  8. Mabry, L. M., Ross, M. D., & Tonarelli, J. M. (2014). Metastatic cancer mimicking mechanical low back pain: a case report. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, 22(3), 162-169. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4101555/
  9. Hoy, D., Bain, C., Williams, G., March, L., Brooks, P., Blyth, F., … & Buchbinder, R. (2012). A systematic review of the global prevalence of low back pain. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 64(6), 2028-2037. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22231424/

What is a concussion? A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. This can occur after head trauma and can result in brain damage or an altered mental state.

Post-concussion syndrome is a disorder affecting multiple systems in your body. It can last months and result in symptoms such as dizziness or headache.

Post-concussion syndrome can go away with time, but repetitive brain injuries can result in the dangerous progressive brain disease called CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).

Don’t worry. We’ll let you know what to do and which common symptoms to look out for to recognize long-term issues.

Though concussions require immediate treatment from a medical professional, they are fairly common.

How common are concussions?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that almost three million adults and children in the United States suffer a concussion each year. Each day, an average of 150 Americans die of traumatic brain injury. 

How does a concussion happen? The main causes of a concussion are head injuries from car accidents, falls, and sports-related concussions.

There are long-term effects of concussions in football. Football players are especially vulnerable to severe or mild traumatic brain injury.

Since it is a contact sport, football is a risk factor for long-term concussion symptoms. The NFL (National Football League) has been slow to admit the link between playing football and sports concussions. However, researchers have concluded there is indeed a link.

But American football is not the only dangerous sport. There are a few sports where a higher percentage of athletes suffer concussions:

It is estimated that one third of former amateur contact sports athletes have CTE, which is a progressive brain disorder resulting from repetitive head injuries.

The long-term effects of multiple concussions can be even worse. The more often you are concussed, the more likely these symptoms of concussions will occur.

Short- and Long-Term Impact of Concussions

Concussion symptoms have been described in research almost 100 years old. In 1928, research described concussed fighters as “punch drunk,” “cuckoo,” “goofy,” “cutting paper dolls,” and “slug nutty.” We have since determined kinder and more scientific terms to describe concussion symptoms.

Can concussions cause permanent damage? Yes, mild concussions may result in short-term symptoms that go away with time. However, severe or repetitive concussions are likely to result in long-term consequences.

Can a concussion cause permanent memory damage? Yes, permanent memory damage and dementia are symptoms of CTE, which is triggered by multiple concussions.

How many concussions cause permanent damage? According to published research, 17 is the average number of concussions that leads to CTE, which is the progressive brain disease that results in these long term effects of concussions.

Short-Term Effects of Concussions

The common symptoms of a concussion can be short-term — AKA these symptoms appear soon after the concussion occurs and can dissipate. 

Post-concussion syndrome is a term that can refer to these short-term symptoms of concussions. These short-term effects are mostly treatable.


A headache is pain in your head, face, or neck. There are multiple types of headaches caused by many different triggers.

Headache is the number one symptom after a concussion. Head injuries typically result in short-term headaches. However, these headaches can persist over several months if your concussion is not properly treated.

Trouble Concentrating

If you suffer a concussion, you may experience trouble concentrating.

This is especially noticeable at work or at school. Co-workers can be helpful when noticing concussion symptoms.

Sensitivity to Light

Sensitivity to light is the second most common symptom of concussion after headache. Also known as photosensitivity or photophobia, sensitivity to light may be to all lights, or only specific types of lighting.

Colored glasses are known to help mitigate the pain associated with post-concussion light sensitivity.

Sensitivity to Noise

Sensitivity to noise is a common symptom after experiencing a concussion. People who suffer concussions may have problems going to loud places, like restaurants.

Concussions may also trigger a ringing in your ears, also called tinnitus.

Memory Problems

Memory problems are normal after a concussion. Permanent or temporary loss of memory are more upsetting concussion symptoms.

The victim of a concussion may actually forget what happened to cause the head injury.

Long-Term Effects of Concussions

The long term effects of concussions stem from CTE, a progressive brain disease caused by multiple concussions.

CTE stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The average number of concussions that leads to the long-term consequences of CTE seems to be 17 concussions.

Memory Loss

Similar to post-concussion syndrome, CTE can trigger memory loss. Repetitive concussions can lead to long-term amnesia because of the brain damage concussions can cause.

Personality Changes

Loved ones may notice personality changes in concussion victims. They may not exhibit these changes in behavior/mood until years — even decades — after the initial head trauma.

These are the personality changes that can occur after concussions:

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is considered a potential long-term effect of concussions. Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that may cause tremors and arm/leg stiffness.

Suffering a concussion can increase your risk of developing Parkinson’s later in life by 50%.

Both CTE (caused by multiple concussions, long-term) and mild TBI (single concussion, short-term) can increase your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is another common symptom of concussions that may occur in the long-term.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder resulting in memory loss and cognitive impairment. Eventually, Alzheimer’s patients struggle to hold a conversation or complete simple tasks.

Sleep Disturbances

You may experience sleep disturbances after a concussion. Brain trauma can negatively affect the neurons involved in “sleep-wake control and circadian rhythm maintenance.”

Treatment of sleep disturbances is especially important since issues with your sleep can slow your natural concussion recovery.

Smell and Taste Dysfunction

Loss of smell (AKA anosmia, or “smell blindness”) is a well-established result of head trauma. Up to a quarter of concussion patients have reported loss of taste and smell.

The severity of your post-concussion smell dysfunction is related to your age and the severity/type of injury.

Taste dysfunction is directly related to smell dysfunction, since they use the same receptors.

A concussion can also cause a bad taste in your mouth.

Concussions vs. TBI vs. CTE

Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury. A concussion occurs when you suffer a head injury, such as during sports, a car accident, or a fall. A concussion is often referred to as “mild TBI.”

TBI stands for traumatic brain injury. Concussions are a type of TBI, but there are other examples of TBI:

CTE stands for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. This is a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by repetitive brain injuries. CTE accounts for all of the “long term effects of concussions” that we’ve been talking about.

Effective Treatments for Concussions

Proven treatments for concussions include upper cervical care, mental/physical rest, exercise therapy, dietary changes, and all-natural painkillers. 

Treating symptoms is a short-term solution to immediate pain, but it is important to correct any damage caused by your concussions to prevent lasting effects. 

We’ll cover the most effective treatments for concussions, as well as some all-natural painkillers to relieve your pain in the moment.

Upper Cervical Care

Upper cervical care from a chiropractor is an effective treatment for a concussion. Upper cervical care regulates and normalizes your levels of cerebrospinal fluid.

Cerebrospinal fluid is the fluid around your brain inside your skull. Cerebrospinal fluid levels are an optimal biomarker for a healthcare professional to diagnose if you have suffered a concussion. Imbalanced cerebrospinal fluid levels have been linked to migraines and post-concussion syndrome.

Fortunately, upper cervical chiropractors should be able to correct spinal misalignments that lead to a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid. This relieves pressure in the skull and addresses the escalation of symptoms that can occur when concussions happen.

If you live in the Denver area, consider setting up an appointment with Denver Upper Cervical Care. We work with our patients to diagnose and treat spine-related problems, such as post-concussion syndrome due to the imbalance of cerebrospinal fluid.

Physical and Mental Rest

After you address any build up of spinal fluid, doctors will suggest physical and mental rest after a concussion.

For several days, avoid unnecessary physical activities. After that, avoid any activities that exacerbate your symptoms. (Don’t play contact sports or go on roller coasters for a while.)

For a few days, avoid any activities that involve a lot of thinking or concentration:

Exercise Therapy

Exercise therapy is a less common, but very effective treatment of concussion.

After a concussion, patients will experience less blood flow to the brain. This means even light exercise can cause a headache.

However, research indicates that low-impact aerobic exercise therapy may be an effective treatment for post-concussion syndrome.

Dietary Changes

Dietary changes that reduce inflammation may be useful in treating your concussion. Changing your diet seems an odd treatment, but it has to do with inflammation.

Any injury results in inflammation, including head injuries. If your symptoms persist after a month, it may be important to reduce inflammation that can lead to all sorts of medical conditions.

Avoid these inflammatory foods:

Eat these anti-inflammatory foods:

All-Natural Painkillers

These all-natural painkillers can relieve pain and inflammation that results from concussions. Though these are not long-term treatments, they can be effective tools until you can get an appointment to treat the actual issue. 

Here are the most effective, research-backed all-natural painkillers:

Looking to the Future

A mild concussion can be treated with rest or exercise. All concussions should be followed up with chiropractic care and lifestyle changes.

If you or a loved one are experiencing these post-concussion symptoms, seek medical attention right away. The sooner your concussion is treated, the more likely you will avoid the long term effects of concussions.


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Concussion recovery is the process of healing after a head injury.

Most symptoms of concussion go away within 7-10 days. Most people recover from a concussion in about a month, but there are factors that can speed it up or slow it down.

For instance, one way to improve concussion symptoms is chiropractic care. One way to worsen your symptoms is high-intensity exercise before you’re ready.

Concussion recovery is especially important to sports medicine, as such a high percentage of contact sports athletes suffer repeated concussions. Almost 4 million concussions occur every year because of sports and recreational activities, and between 30% and 50% go unreported.

Concussion Definition & Symptoms

What is a concussion? A concussion is an injury to your brain caused by the brain impacting the inside of your skull. Also called a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussions usually occur because of a direct hit to the head or because of whiplash.

What is post-concussion syndrome? Post-concussion syndrome is a condition in which concussion symptoms persist for more than 6 weeks.

Also called post-concussive syndrome, this condition is rare after a single concussion. With each concurrent concussion, however, developing post-concussion syndrome is more likely.

What should you do after a concussion? After a suspected concussion, go to the emergency room. A doctor must diagnose a concussion and prescribe the proper treatment for optimal concussion recovery. Mental and physical rest are the two most common recommendations.

The most common symptoms of a concussion are:

Concussion Recovery Time

Concussion recovery time varies from person to person. Some people recover from mild traumatic brain injuries within a couple of weeks. In the worst cases, concussion symptoms can last for years. Most concussions resolve within a month.

How long does it take to recover from a mild concussion? The average recovery time after a concussion has been estimated to be between 16 and 29 days. Most people recover in 2-4 weeks. An estimated 20% of people need more than 6 weeks to recover from persistent symptoms of concussion.

Can you fully recover from a concussion? Most people who suffer a concussion can expect to fully recover within 4 weeks. Rarely, severe concussions from an extremely traumatic injury or repeated concussions over time can cause permanent damage.

Factors That May Slow Recovery Time

These are the factors that may slow your recovery time after a concussion:

How to Speed Concussion Recovery

There are several science-backed methods to speed up concussion recovery.

  1. Physical rest
  2. Mental rest
  3. Light exercise
  4. Abstain from alcohol
  5. Chiropractic care
  6. Psychological treatment
  7. Medication

How do you treat a concussion at home? You treat a concussion at home with mental and physical rest, but only for a few days. After that initial rest period, slowly start to reintroduce normal activity. No one should be alone for the first 48 hours of concussion recovery.

Talk to a healthcare professional before treating your concussion at home.

1. Physical Rest

Physical rest in which you avoid anything beyond very light physical activity is a must for early concussion recovery.

Most of your normal daily activities may need to be put on pause for a few days.

Avoid these normal daily activities:

If you must buy groceries or go out on errands, bring a friend or family member. Driving with post concussion syndrome may be dangerous for some moderate to severe cases.

After a few days of rest, slowly increase your activity level and observe whether or not your activity triggers concussion symptoms. If not, you’re recovering! 

Stay hydrated as you increase your activity levels.

If you don’t feel better after a week of physical rest, talk to your healthcare provider about approaching your recovery process in a new way.

2. Mental Rest

Mental rest helps the brain to recover after a concussion by reducing eye strain and mental stress.

Mentally stimulating activities that should be avoided include:

Generally, activities that require extended periods of focus for your eyes may strain your visual system and exacerbate symptoms.

You’ll notice that even watching television should be avoided immediately after a concussion. Less screen time means better sleep — plus, it helps you avoid light sensitivity.

Some providers will recommend picking television or your phone back up after the first few days of recovery. However, this may cause flare-ups and slow concussion recovery. Some post-concussion syndrome patients struggle for months to look at screens without developing symptoms.

For the first couple of days, your eyes will probably be sensitive to light. You may want to lie down in a dark room. This is fine for a couple of days, but should not be your daily routine for more than 2-3 days.

Part of mental rest is a good night’s sleep — aim for 7-8 hours. For the first few days, feel free to take naps throughout the day as necessary. Slowly, phase out napping to return to normal mental activity.

3. Exercise

Low-impact, non-contact aerobic exercise may aid in concussion recovery.

Exercise is typically avoided, so as not to trigger concussion symptoms. But research shows that exercise is actually a promising therapy for concussion therapy. The key is to start with very light exercise and increase your intensity gradually over time.

Animal studies indicate that exercise benefits patients who suffer from prolonged symptoms of concussion.

Other studies reveal that exercise may encourage neuron growth and decrease cell death in the brain of concussion victims.

4. Abstain from Alcohol

Do not drink alcohol within two weeks of suffering a concussion.

Even a small amount of alcohol after a concussion can greatly impair your judgment, increasing risk of falling and further head injuries. Drinking alcohol can also increase risk of depression, a symptom of long-term concussion recovery.

Alcohol may trigger neuroinflammation that directly impairs your concussion recovery.

As a side note, alcohol consumption is also a significant risk factor for getting a concussion in general.

5. Chiropractic Care

Upper cervical chiropractic care may help with concussion recovery. This is due to the link between concussion symptoms and problems in your upper spine and neck.

Concussion symptoms can be caused by a misalignment in your upper cervical spine. The atlas and/or the axis surround the brain stem. When one or both of these vertebrae are misaligned, chiropractic care is required to put them back in alignment.

Upper cervical misalignment may cause post-injury headaches, but chiropractic care can improve headaches, as well as concussion symptoms in general.

At Denver Upper Cervical Care, we believe in treating the root cause, not the symptoms. Concussion symptoms are often caused by spinal misalignment.

If you suffered a recent concussion, click here to make an appointment with us. Chiropractic care improves concussion recovery. Our patients prove it.

6. Psychological Treatment

40% of post-concussion syndrome patients are prescribed some sort of psychological treatment after their concussion. Psychological treatment, such as psychotherapy and behavioral therapy, promotes neurorehabilitation in concussion patients.

A part of psychological treatment should be educating the patient. Knowing what to expect from concussion symptoms, what symptoms are normal vs. which ones are not, and how to deal with concussion symptoms seems to reduce concussion symptoms faster, even in children.

Journals are common psychological exercises. Keeping a memory journal or symptom journal are simple ways to keep track of your progress, exercising your mind without straining it.

7. Medications

No medication will cure you of having a concussion, but some medications are helpful in relieving concussion symptoms. This does not necessarily mean your concussion recovery is faster, but the healing process might be easier for you to handle.

Depending on your symptoms, a doctor may prescribe you with:

However, always check the adverse side effects of pharmaceuticals. The side effects may not be worth the relief.

For natural pain relief, try:

When to Call a Doctor After Concussion

First off, see a doctor immediately after your head injury. The doctor will be able to tell you if you have a mild concussion, something less serious, or something worse.

During your recovery process, call a doctor right away if:

Seeking immediate medical care after these symptoms ensures your concussion symptoms don’t worsen.

Don’t feel bad about going to the emergency room. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates almost 3 million people go to the emergency room for concussions every year.

A doctor is able to order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT scan (computerized tomography) to better assess your head injury and recovery process.

Looking to the Future

Full recovery takes time. After a concussion, some people need to allow more than 6 weeks to pass for the healing process to complete.

However, most can return to work or school after a month.

Patience is important to the recovery process. With patience and determination — and a little chiropractic work — you should make a strong recovery!


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Cervical instability is a medical condition in which loose ligaments in your upper cervical spine may lead to neuronal damage and a large list of adverse symptoms.

If you have cervical instability, you may be experiencing migraines, vertigo, or nausea. Fortunately, this condition is treatable, though not curable.

Let’s talk about the symptoms, causes, treatments, diagnosis, and prevention of cervical instability — one step at a time.

What is cervical instability?

Cervical instability occurs when the ligaments in between your spinal cord and skull are loose. These “lax ligaments” allow for excessive movement of the top two cervical vertebrae, which may result in many symptoms, such as headaches, fainting, or even memory loss.

Ligament laxity is a state in which ligaments that attach bone to bone are loose. Also called ligamentous laxity, this condition often causes chronic pain. It can affect the whole body, or only specific parts.

You may have seen a friend hyperextend their finger, seemingly unnaturally. This is probably due to ligament laxity causing joint hypermobility syndrome. The ligaments connecting the bones in your friend’s finger are loose and allow for more range of motion.

This abnormal range of motion in your neck area can trigger cervical instability.

Ligament laxity may be caused by genetic connective tissue disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome or Marfan Syndrome.

There are 2 joints at which the ligaments may be loose, leading to cervical instability:

  1. Atlanto-occipital joint
  2. Atlanto-axial joint

Cervical instability is also known as:

Cervical Instability Symptoms

Symptoms of cervical instability:

Diagnosing Cervical Instability

How do you test cervical instability? Here are 4 testing methods for cervical instability:

  1. Upright MRI (AKA magnetic resonance imaging)
  2. Supine MRI (laying on your back)
  3. CT scan (AKA computerized tomography)
  4. Digital x-ray

It is worth mentioning that, although MRIs are the most common diagnostic testing method for cervical instability, a 2012 scientific investigation found that MRIs had “limited diagnostic value in patients with whiplash-associated disorders” such as cervical instability.

Here are some measurements doctors will look for to diagnose cervical instability:

Causes of Cervical Instability

Craniocervical instability is caused by ligament laxity between the skull and the top two vertebrae (the atlas and the axis). This allows excessive movement and leads to a long list of physical and neurological symptoms.

These factors can cause ligament laxity and result in cervical instability:

Cervical Instability Treatments

How do you fix cervical instability? There are 4 standard treatments for cervical instability:

  1. Chiropractic
  2. Surgery
  3. Physical therapy
  4. Strengthening exercises
  5. Prolotherapy

There is no consensus on the best cervical instability treatment, but these 5 methods are supported by the most scientific evidence.

1. Chiropractic

Chiropractic care is a common and effective treatment for headaches, poor posture, and spinal misalignments — all of which are connected to cervical instability.

Upper cervical chiropractic care may correct cervical instability.

A 2020 study says: “Spinal chiropractic manipulative therapy can be used to correct cervical instability,” joint disorders, dislocations of cervical vertebrae, and much more.

Spinal manipulation is a safe and effective therapy when performed by a highly qualified chiropractor, even in special needs patients.

Here at Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we have successfully treated cervical instability patients countless times. Gentle adjustments of the upper spine are critical to recovering from cervical instability. Click here to learn more about our practice.

2. Surgery

Does cervical instability require surgery? You do not need surgery for cervical instability unless your instability has gotten out of control. In the most severe cases, surgery may be necessary to manage the life-changing symptoms of advanced cervical instability.

Most surgical treatments aim to correct dysfunction of the craniocervical junction, where the skull meets the upper spine.

The most common surgical treatment options include:

  1. Cervical fusion spine surgery
  2. Halifax clamp
  3. Screw-rod constructs along the atlas vertebra lateral mass and axis vertebra pedicle (or the axis spinous process if the axis pedicle is inaccessible)
  4. Transarticular screws
  5. Posterior sublaminar wiring

Cervical spine fusion, in particular, may be performed when slight subluxations are detected but before migration of the odontoid process to prevent the progression of cervical instability. Unfortunately, some surgery patients find they can no longer move that part of their neck.

Medscape explains that when it comes to surgery for cervical instability, “optimal results have been obtained in patients with severe pain and mild myelopathy.”

However, more conservative treatments for cervical instability, such as chiropractic care or physical therapy, may also be effective. Since surgery is invasive and expensive, it may be wise to try more conservative treatments first.

3. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a very effective treatment option for cervical instability. We often recommend patients do PT alongside chiropractic care for the best recover outcomes. 

What does physical therapy for cervical instability involve?

You may or may not need to wear a brace or cervical collar, depending on the severity of your cervical instability, and whether you had surgery beforehand.

According to a two-year follow up study, surgery improved patient outcomes better after one year. But physical therapy was insignificantly different from surgery at improving symptoms after two years.

In other words, surgery is a short-term strategy to offer immediate back pain relief. Physical therapy improves symptoms in the long-term.

4. Strengthening Exercises

Always consult your doctor or physical therapist before trying these strengthening exercises to help with cervical instability.

5 examples of strengthening exercises that may treat or prevent cervical instability are:

  1. Chin tucks stretch and strengthen your posture and neck joints. Chin tucks are the most common strengthening exercise used to improve cervical instability.
  2. Isometric exercises can be combined with active range of motion to strengthen the neck area. Click here for a video demonstration by a physical therapist.
  3. Rotating the neck slowly and methodically also strengthens the joints and muscles around the upper cervical spine.
  4. Yes and no neck motions help stretch the muscles and joints around the neck. A yes motion is nodding your head up and down, slowly. A no motion is shaking your head left and right, slowly.
  5. Practicing good posture reduces pressure put on the spine. Practice good posture for as long as you can each day. You should be able to comfortably exercise good posture for longer and longer with each passing day.

Discontinue any exercise or movement that triggers pain. Feeling pain is a sign you should rest and not push yourself further.

5. Prolotherapy

Prolotherapy is a relatively new treatment option for patients with cervical instability, often with no adverse side effects.

Prolotherapy is a regenerative injection technique that aims to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes to strengthen and repair injured joints and ligaments.

It is “intended for acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries, including those causing chronic neck pain related to underlying joint instability and ligament laxity,” such as cervical instability.

A 2007 case series showed that prolotherapy consistently improved neck pain in whiplash patients.

Stem cell prolotherapy is also a burgeoning treatment for ligament repair.

Prolotherapy injections offer cervical instability patients an alternative to surgery

But, prolotherapy has yet to prove if it can offer permanent and repeatable treatment results. Many patients seek out combination chiropractic and physical therapy after undergoing prolotherapy treatment that didn’t provide lasting pain relief. 

How to Prevent Cervical Instability

Cervical instability is common in people with connective tissue disorders. Individuals at a higher risk, like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, will need to actively prevent cervical instability.

To prevent cervical instability:

Everyone should follow these tips for good overall health, but particularly individuals with connective tissue disorders or malformations of the neck or spine.

Prognosis & Long-Term Outlook

Cervical instability is somewhat rare, but it is likely underdiagnosed. For example, connective tissue disorders that can trigger cervical instability affect at least 1 in 5,000 people worldwide.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of cervical instability, contact your doctor or chiropractor right away.

This is a manageable disorder, but only with high-quality treatment, such as physical therapy or chiropractic adjustments.

Click here today to make your appointment at Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic. Here, we empower patients to take part in their whole person healing, and we want to help YOU with your cervical instability.


  1. Tominaga, Y., Maak, T. G., Ivancic, P. C., Panjabi, M. M., & Cunningham, B. W. (2006). Head-turned rear impact causing dynamic cervical intervertebral foramen narrowing: implications for ganglion and nerve root injury. Journal of neurosurgery: Spine, 4(5), 380-387. Full text: http://www.danmurphydc.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/archive/2006/Article_22-06.tominaga.pdf
  2. Lummel, N., Bitterling, H., Kloetzer, A., Zeif, C., Brückmann, H., & Linn, J. (2012). Value of “functional” magnetic resonance imaging in the diagnosis of ligamentous affection at the craniovertebral junction. European Journal of Radiology, 81(11), 3435-3440. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22762971/
  3. Rebbeck, T., & Liebert, A. (2014). Clinical management of craniovertebral instability after whiplash, when guidelines should be adapted: A case report. Manual therapy, 19(6), 618-621. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24560490/
  4. Fan, S. T. (2018). Clinical observation on cervical chiropractic for cervical spondylosis of vertebral artery type. Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science, 16(2), 115-119. Abstract: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11726-018-1034-2
  5. Wang, Y., Xu, M., & Shi, Y. (2020). Efficacy of spinal chiropractic manipulative therapy for adjusting the relationship between cervical facet joints to treat headache caused by acute mountain sickness. Journal of International Medical Research, 48(1), 0300060519898005. Full text: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0300060519898005
  6. Dyck, V. G. (1981). Upper cervical instability in Down’s syndrome: a case report. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 25(2), 67. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2484266/pdf/jcca00090-0029.pdf
  7. Agarwal, A. K., Peppelman, W. C., Kraus, D. R., Pollock, B. H., Stolzer, B. L., Eisenbeis, C. H., & Donaldson, W. F. (1992). Recurrence of cervical spine instability in rheumatoid arthritis following previous fusion: can disease progression be prevented by early surgery?. Journal of rheumatology, 19(9), 1364-1370. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1433002/
  8. Maniker, A. H., Schulger, M., & Duran, H. L. (1995). Halifax clamps: efficacy and complications in posterior cervical stabilization. Surgical neurology, 43(2), 140-146. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7892658/
  9. Yuan, B., Zhou, S., Chen, X., Wang, Z., Liu, W., & Jia, L. (2017). Gallie technique versus atlantoaxial screw-rod constructs in the treatment of atlantoaxial sagittal instability: a retrospective study of 49 patients. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, 12(1), 105. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504836/
  10. Huang, K. Y., Lin, R. M., & Fang, J. J. (2016). A novel method of C1–C2 transarticular screw insertion for symptomatic atlantoaxial instability using a customized guiding block: A case report and a technical note. Medicine, 95(43). Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5089091/
  11. Chang, H., Park, J. B., Choi, B. W., Kang, J. W., & Chun, Y. S. (2019). Posterior Sublaminar Wiring and/or Transarticular Screw Fixation for Reducible Atlantoaxial Instability Secondary to Symptomatic Os Odontoideum: A Neglected Technique?. Asian spine journal, 13(2), 233. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6454275/
  12. Young, B. A., & Ross, M. D. (2009). Neck pain and headaches in a patient after a fall. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 39(5), 418-418. Full text: https://www.jospt.org/doi/full/10.2519/jospt.2009.0405
  13. Engquist, M., Löfgren, H., Öberg, B., Holtz, A., Peolsson, A., Söderlund, A., … & Lind, B. (2013). Surgery versus nonsurgical treatment of cervical radiculopathy: a prospective, randomized study comparing surgery plus physiotherapy with physiotherapy alone with a 2-year follow-up. Spine, 38(20), 1715-1722. Full text: https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:656650/FULLTEXT01.pdf
  14. Steilen, D., Hauser, R., Woldin, B., & Sawyer, S. (2014). Chronic neck pain: making the connection between capsular ligament laxity and cervical instability. The open orthopaedics journal, 8, 326. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4200875/
  15. Hauser, R. A., Steilen, D., & Gordin, K. (2015). The Biology of Prolotherapy and Its Application in Clinical Cervical Spine Instability and Chronic Neck Pain: A Retrospective Study. European Journal of Preventive Medicine, 3(4), 85-102. Full text: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ross_Hauser2/publication/281131818_The_Biology_of_Prolotherapy_and_Its_Application_in_Clinical_Cervical_Spine_Instability_and_Chronic_Neck_Pain_A_Retrospective_Study/links/57b46ab708ae19a365fae7b3.pdf
  16. Hooper, R. A., Frizzell, J. B., & Faris, P. (2007). Case Series on Chronic Whiplash-Related Neck Pain Treated with Intra-articular Zygapophysial Joint Regeneration Injection Therapy. Pain Physician, 10(2), 313. Full text: https://stemcellarts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Prolotherapy-NeckPain-Chronic-Whiplash.pdf
  17. Alderman, D., Alexander, R. W., Harris, G. R., & Astourian, P. C. (2011). Stem cell prolotherapy in regenerative medicine: background, theory and protocols. J Prolother, 3(3), 689-708. Full text: http://journalofprolotherapy.com/stem-cell-prolotherapy-in-regenerative-medicine-background-theory-and-protocols/
  18. Centeno, C. J., Elliott, J., Elkins, W. L., & Freeman, M. (2005). Fluoroscopically guided cervical prolotherapy for instability with blinded pre and post radiographic reading. Pain Physician, 8(1), 67-72. Full text: https://www.painphysicianjournal.com/current/pdf?article=Njg%3D&journal=22

Chiropractic adjustments are sessions of spinal manipulation administered by a doctor of chiropractic. These adjustments are used for chronic pain relief and treating other medical conditions by correcting spinal misalignments.

What is a chiropractor? A chiropractor is a highly qualified health professional who has earned his/her Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree. Chiropractors adjust the patient’s spinal joints in ways that have been scientifically shown to address certain disorders.

There are several evidence-based health benefits of chiropractic care. A doctor of chiropractic is able to treat conditions such as musculoskeletal pain, migraines,  and sciatica with spinal adjustments.

Upper cervical chiropractic is a subspecialty of chiropractic care that focuses on the 2 upper vertebrae of the spine: the atlas (C1) and the axis (C2). Upper cervical care is employed for effective treatment of several disorders and injuries.

Below, you’ll learn the answer to these questions:

What is a chiropractic adjustment?

A chiropractic adjustment (also known as a “spinal adjustment”) is a session of spinal corrections performed by a chiropractor. Chiropractic adjustments may include a number of individual chiropractic techniques, such as the toggle drop, lumbar roll, or table adjustments.

A typical chiropractic adjustment by a general chiropractor
A upper cervical chiropractic adjustment by Dr. Ty Carzoli

How often should you get chiropractic adjustments? For chronic pain that significantly affects your quality of life, you should get a chiropractic adjustment every week or even multiple times each week. 

For simple maintenance and prevention, you may visit a chiropractor once a month, but this varies greatly depending on your provider.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic

Our upper cervical chiropractic treatment plans typically require weekly treatments for 12 weeks at a time. After this, I will recommend an appropriate plan for maintenance adjustments, although I aim to get you back on your feet and out of the office.

There is no cookie cutter formula to knowing what someone needs. That being said, based on your condition, lifestyle, and state of your spine, I create a custom fit 3-month care plan to get started. 

It’s very rare I see anyone more than once a week. Most patients can expect to average about 1 visit per week for the first 3 months of care; “The Corrective Care Plan” phase. 

Following those first three months, I do a comprehensive re-examination where I will:

Osteopath vs. Chiropractor

An osteopath is a slightly different profession from a chiropractor. 

Osteopaths (doctors of osteopathy, or DOs) go through four years of medical school. Very few osteopaths prescribe to the importance of spinal correction for all-body health.

Chiropractors, on the other hand, go to a chiropractic post-graduate school, not medical school. The chiropractic profession focuses closely on all-body health via spinal adjustments.

Osteopaths perform osteopathic adjustments, which are very similar to chiropractic manipulations. However, osteopathic adjustments are basically watered-down chiropractic adjustments. Like physical therapists, osteopaths have minimal (elective) training on “manipulations”.

Ultimately, osteopathy does not use the principles of functional medicine, in which a lifestyle approach is used to promote health. Chiropractic, on the other hand, honors the innate systems of the body to promote health with minimal to no use of drugs or conventional medicine principles.

Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments

Chiropractic adjustments correct spinal misalignments and spinal motion issues. Left untreated, misalignments and subluxations may cause:

Health benefits of chiropractic adjustments include:

  1. Improved joint function (including range of motion)
  2. Reduced lower back pain
  3. Reduced neck pain
  4. Headache relief
  5. Migraine relief
  6. Better blood circulation
  7. Improvement of insomnia
  8. Easier breathing, including with certain asthma issues

These health benefits are backed by peer-reviewed science. A slew of other benefits have been reported by patients and chiropractors but may not be published in scientific journals.

If you are interested in a chiropractic adjustment, click here to make your appointment at Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic. We work with our patients to figure out a treatment plan that works for you.

What to Expect During Chiropractic Treatment

Before the Adjustment

Before your adjustment, your chiropractor should discuss your treatment level. He or she will explain what chiropractic adjustment is required in your case.

You should not expect any pain during a chiropractic visit.

The first time you visit a chiropractor, the doctor of chiropractic will likely consult with you regarding your overall condition, symptoms, and desired results. This consultation may include:

You may or may not get a chiropractic adjustment at this initial consultation. At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we take time to thoroughly analyze x-rays before delivering the first adjustment on the second visit. If a patient travels in from out of state, we will make special accommodations for time.

After your first visit, the chiropractor can examine your x-rays and formulate a personalized treatment plan for you.

Getting a Chiropractic Adjustment 

When you return, it’s probably time for your first adjustment.

Your chiropractor will likely explore your maximum range of motion before beginning the adjustment, stopping immediately if this movement triggers any pain. The chiropractor may thrust his/her hands down onto the targeted area to actually make the adjustment.

Personally, I do not employ adjustments like this with my patients. It’s a common practice, but I use a very gentle and precise instrument instead. 

The Laney Torque Specific Cervical Adjusting Instrument is my device of choice (not to be confused with the Torque Release Technique’s “integrator”). Only 65 of these have ever been manufactured, and I have the only one in the entire state of Colorado.

We use regular x-rays and cutting-edge technology to ensure the most precise, gentle, and effective adjustments possible.

What happens when you get adjusted by a chiropractor? The chiropractor corrects spinal misalignments, and restores nervous system function. You may hear “popping”, which is normal. It is also normal to lie on a drop table that raises and drops.

Results You Should Expect

How long do chiropractic adjustments last? The amount of time a chiropractic adjustment lasts depends heavily on the state of the patient’s spine. The greatest variation between people is in the beginning of treatment.

Over time, chiropractors should be seeing people less and less often as they hold their adjustments longer and longer. What people do outside the office can have a big impact on the efficacy of their care.

Chiropractic adjustments can be used for rehabilitation, maintenance, or prevention. 

How long until I see results from chiropractic care? On average, a patient of chiropractic care sees results within 1 to 4 weeks of spinal adjustment. You may notice small physical changes right away, like increased lung capacity or limb strength.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic vs. General Chiropractic

What is the difference between upper cervical and general chiropractic?

Drop table adjustments are common tools used by general chiropractors. During this adjustment, he or she will raise a part of the table you’re lying down on, then thrust their hands down, causing the raised part of the table to quickly lower. 

This actually increases the patient’s comfort level, compared to spinal corrections without the use of a table.

It is important to wear loose-fitting clothing so your clothes don’t get in the way of spinal adjustments. The chiropractor may lift up your leg or gently twist your back, which may be difficult with tight-fitting clothing. Athletic wear is often the clothing of choice.

It’s also important to wear close-toed shoes for general chiropractic adjustments.

You may hear a lot of “popping” or “cracking” like when you crack your knuckles. This is thought to be caused by joint cavitation, when gases in your joints’ lubricating fluids are released. It is a  sign your joints are being mobilized.

Again, I do not adjust patients using drop table or twisting/cracking adjustments. These are common, but do not serve our patients best in their upper cervical chiropractic treatment plans.

Is it safe to get chiropractic adjustments?

Yes, it is safe to get chiropractic adjustments from a trained and licensed doctor of chiropractic. 

Fewer than one in a million chiropractic patients experiences an adverse event during treatment. 

Those are much better odds than taking anti-inflammatory meds, such as NSAIDs, for pain. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are not even as effective as spinal adjustments at relieving neck pain. NSAIDs certainly don’t correct the cause of your problem. 

Side effects of chiropractic adjustments are rare. Potential dangers include:

Who shouldn’t get a chiropractic adjustment? If a patient presents any of the following disorders, chiropractors may hesitate to perform spinal adjustments:

Cost & Insurance Coverage

The average cost of a chiropractic adjustment is $65 to $85.

Depending on where you live, whether you’re seeing a specialist, and the years of experience of your chiropractor, the cost of a chiropractic adjustment varies. Chiropractic services range in cost from $30 to $200 per visit.

Many chiropractors require a one-time fee for the initial consultation, where a physical examination, x-rays, and personal health history are usually administered. From this initial consultation, a doctor of chiropractic can lay out an effective treatment plan for each individual patient.

Most chiropractic care is not covered by insurance. We do not accept insurance, including Medicare/Medicaid for this reason.

Some insurance plans cover short-term chiropractic care for rehabilitation after an injury, such as a car crash or sports injury. However, most insurance plans do not cover chiropractic care for maintenance, prevention, and general wellness.

If you’re considering chiropractic care but aren’t sure you can afford it, talk to your chiropractor’s office about options such as payment plans or CareCredit.

Looking to the Future

Chiropractors are highly qualified medical professionals with a Doctor of Chiropractic education. They are trained and educated to administer chiropractic adjustments to all sorts of people — from children to the elderly.

At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we have administered countless chiropractic adjustments. Gentle adjustments of the upper spine are critical to recovering from cervical instability. Click here to learn more about our practice.


  1. Pollard, H., Ward, G., Hoskins, W., & Hardy, K. (2008). The effect of a manual therapy knee protocol on osteoarthritic knee pain: a randomised controlled trial. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 52(4), 229. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2597887/
  2. Lawrence, D. J., Meeker, W., Branson, R., Bronfort, G., Cates, J. R., Haas, M., … & Triano, J. J. (2008). Chiropractic management of low back pain and low back-related leg complaints: a literature synthesis. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 31(9), 659-674. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19028250/
  3. Haneline, M. T., & Cooperstein, R. (2009). Chiropractic care for patients with acute neck pain: results of a pragmatic practice-based feasibility study. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 8(4), 143-155. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2786244/
  4. Vernon, H., Borody, C., Harris, G., Muir, B., Goldin, J., & Dinulos, M. (2015). A randomized pragmatic clinical trial of chiropractic care for headaches with and without a self-acupressure pillow. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 38(9), 637-643. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26548737/
  5. Bernstein, C., Wayne, P. M., Rist, P. M., Osypiuk, K., Hernandez, A., & Kowalski, M. (2019). Integrating Chiropractic Care Into the Treatment of Migraine Headaches in a Tertiary Care Hospital: A Case Series. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 8, 2164956119835778. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6440032/
  6. Yates, R. G., Lamping, D. L., Abram, N. L., & Wright, C. (1988). Effects of chiropractic treatment on blood pressure and anxiety: a randomized, controlled trial. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 11(6), 484-488. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3075649/
  7. Kingston, J., Raggio, C., Spencer, K., Stalaker, K., & Tuchin, P. J. (2010). A review of the literature on chiropractic and insomnia. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 9(3), 121-126. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3188343/
  8. Wearing, J., Beaumont, S., Forbes, D., Brown, B., & Engel, R. (2016). The use of spinal manipulative therapy in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 22(2), 108-114. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4761829/
  9. Kaminskyj, A., Frazier, M., Johnstone, K., & Gleberzon, B. J. (2010). Chiropractic care for patients with asthma: A systematic review of the literature. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 54(1), 24. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2829683/
  10. Assendelft, W. J., Bouter, L. M., & Knipschild, P. G. (1996). Complications of spinal manipulation. J Fam pract, 42(5), 475-80. Full text: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lex_Bouter/publication/14558928_Complications_of_spinal_manipulation_A_comprehensive_review_of_the_literature/links/0a85e53b069bae04ca000000.pdf
  11. Bronfort, G., Haas, M., Evans, R., Leininger, B., & Triano, J. (2010). Effectiveness of manual therapies: the UK evidence report. Chiropractic & osteopathy, 18(1), 1-33. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841070/
  12. Dabbs, V., & Lauretti, W. J. (1995). A risk assessment of cervical manipulation vs. NSAIDs for the treatment of neck pain. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 18(8), 530-536. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8583176/
  13. American Chiropractic Association. (2016). Insurance coverage of chiropractic: quick facts. Full text: https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/What-is-Chiropractic/Access-Coverage/Insurance-Coverage
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Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic

Patient Reviews Say It All

Click here to view our glowing patient testimonials. Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic delivers results when conventional doctors say it’s impossible.


Based on 139 reviews.

Dr.Ty Carzoli is extremely professional, punctual and informative. The office is clean and organized. My treatments from him have allowed me to think towards the future, not just day to day. Overall, a great experience!

Leslie Goodman

I absolutely LOVE going to Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic. Dr. Ty knows his stuff and I've never felt better. His style of chiropractic care has improved my sleeping, mood, and fitness capacity. Plus, they are really great at making me feel appreciated. See super sweet picture from my birthday. I would HIGHLY recommend giving them a try, but only if you really want to improve how you feel.

Carla Streff

Overall, I didn’t necessarily feel that I had any particular issues other than a prior shoulder injury that slightly bothered me when I exercised with a heavy set of weights. I felt fairly energetic due to the typical routine of exercise and eating a well balanced healthy diet. The idea for my treatment was to be more proactive about my long term health and ensure that I was in proper alignment.
After my initial consultation, I found out my body was out of alignment more than I felt. I did not feel much different after the first few adjustments; however, what I did not realize until a few weeks in is that I had been waking up prior to treatment with kind of a groggy kind of feeling. After years of waking up like this I assumed this was just the norm. I now have been waking up with little fatigue and grogginess (even with a 10 month old baby) and a new burst of revitalization even if I did not get a full 8 hours of sleep. The feeling of being excited the day before a trip has been occurring on the standard day getting up for work. My workouts have also seen an improvement with the new improved energy levels as well as the standard weight I typically lift went up with little efforts.
Dr. Ty is extremely knowledgeable about what he does and would not think about using anyone else for my care. I love walking into the awesome environment that Dr. Ty has established and the overall care that comes from the visits. Dr. Ty and his fantastic staff has an amazing energy that I very much look forward to when visiting the office!
Even if you think that you have a good alignment, you should be sure to visit Dr. Ty for a great proactive health care plan!

Derek Greer


Visit us at 400 S Colorado Blvd, Ste 430, Denver, CO 80246 | Call Us 303-955-8270

Contact Us

Chiropractor Denver, Cherry Creek, CO conveniently located in Glendale, adjacent to Wash Park

Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic | 303-955-8270