Knowing what treatment plan is going to be best for your body is one of the reasons chiropractors go to 3.5 years of schooling after their 4 year undergraduate degree. Your first appointment in a chiropractic clinic should have a thorough evaluation to make sure you are a good candidate for chiropractic adjustments. But how do you know if you even need to schedule an appointment?

The short answer is: If you have neck pain and/or your neck is not moving through the proper range of motion, you will probably benefit from getting your neck adjusted. However, if you are a patient of mine you know when I am passionate about something the answer is rarely short.

Having a master’s degree in Clinical Research, staying up-to-date on current studies and reading new evidence based literature is one of my passions. The Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy published a great article in 2012 by Puentedura et al. In the article they examined using Clinical Prediction Rules to determine if a patient would benefit from a neck adjustment. So, if your neck is feeling a little stiff let’s go through the checklist and see if an adjustment could help you: (check all that apply)

[   ]       Have you had neck pain for greater than 38 days?

[   ]       Do you expect that an adjustment will help?

[   ]       Is your pain greater than a 5 on a 1-10 scale?

[   ]       Is your neck pain local and not traveling down below your shoulder blades?

[   ]       When seated in a neutral posture, is your head rotated to one side?

[   ]       Is the pain worse when arching the neck to look up?

[   ]       Is there a difference of at least 10◦ when turn your neck to the left versus the right?

[   ]       While lying on your back can you raise your neck off the ground for less than 18 seconds?

Did you answer yes to at least 3 of these questions? If so there is a 90% probability that you could benefit from a neck adjustment. Did you answer yes to 4 or more? Than according to the sample size tested in this study, there is a 100% you could benefit from a neck adjustment. Keep in mind this study only looked at 32 patients’ response to care.  

When utilizing clinical research we have to remember that new evidence is coming out about chiropractic adjustments every day. While these are good baseline rules to follow, you should always talk with your doctor about concerns and benefits of getting adjusted. The findings of a thorough clinical examination are more telling if an adjustment is right for your specific diagnosis and treatment plan.


(Read the full study here)