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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

Dr. Ty Carzoli

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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

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

Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic | 303-955-8270