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Chiropractor Neck Crack: A Psychological Trip to Trick Working Stiffs' Brains

Updated on February 25, 2015
Neck pain can be stress-related or physical. In my case it was both.
Neck pain can be stress-related or physical. In my case it was both.

Always a problem, always a solution with Chiropractic care.

Now I know why I always despised running. The same thing that caused me to have poor posture, headaches, knee aches only in one knee, and eventually an irritatingly unmanageable stiff neck.

My Chiropractor gave me the root cause right away on the first visit. Exactly what he did is unorthodox but surprisingly effective. I'm not sure to this day that he truly knows how it works, but I have some thoughts from my experience.

Having relocated for a job, I was stuck in a long-term financial contract. They knew it, and as soon as I bought a house the masks came off and the beatings commenced. Long hours, blame, and incompetence were the daily fare. No wonder I had the mother-of-all stiff necks. It was so bad that I could really only turn my eyes to see while driving.

If I forgot and turned my neck even just a bit, well let me just say that after a few times of it I considered driving dangerous. I could become incapacitated by the pain and lose control of the car. Of course a Chiropractor can fix this, they claim to be able to fix just about anything with mysterious "adjustments". Since it's "free" with my insurance, I thought OK folks, take a literal crack at it. Let's see what you're all about.

Had my new insurance not paid for 100% of the first Chiropractic visit, I'd otherwise never have considered it. Reading medical studies from peer-reviewed journals was something I got accustomed to since I was losing faith in traditional health care at the time. Apathetic MDs had been mucking about misdiagnosing, writing-off, and even foiling my attempts solve chronic sinusitis. They would have helped if not for laziness, profit-seeking, and working within a bad system. That and more rendered useless all but one of the 30+ Doctors I saw. One special Doctor did solve the sinusitis in a display of Genius I'll remember forever. One special Chiropractor almost solved my joint pains, well he did. But I can't give him much credit for a few significant reasons.

Caged Indoors?

Austin Powers 4: Dr. Crack

The way you *pop* and *crack *my  sexy skeletal self is grooovey man, groooovey! That being said, I do have some thoughts...
The way you *pop* and *crack *my sexy skeletal self is grooovey man, groooovey! That being said, I do have some thoughts...

What worked - repeatable and explainable methods used

This was a very stressful time in my life. I was an Engineer in my mid-twenties working on feasibility studies that impacted high-stakes automotive contracts. I was specially recruited for the job and paid very well like everyone else there, but they always had trouble retaining employees since the environment was defined by stress, punishment, and most kinds of negative (though effective) business practices. No wonder I had a stiff neck!

Going to the Chiropractor was comforting because I was finally doing something for myself. I got a full-body x-ray (something dangerous I will never do again). They had me lay shirtless on a table in a dimly-lit room and played to relaxing music as a very attractive lady came to rub warmed gel on my back. "It's for the electrodes" she told me. OK whatever, bring it on. When she started the current on the electrodes she was careful about my comfort level, and set it to my preferred setting in order for it pulse-flex my muscles for twenty minutes. Leaving the room, I realized whatever she started was stimulating but also relaxing. I also realized it had been a long time since anyone was concerned only about my comfort level.

My wife did her best, but also had to discuss a million decisions related to the move, buying a house, getting a job, etc. In the Chiropractor's office I forgot about all that. I didn't even have to think to exercise my back muscles, it was automatic. In the dark room, all the over-stimulation of my life raged outside several doorways apart from my senses.

The Doctor saw me and spent about 30 minutes with me, at the time it was by far the most time any Doctor invested in helping me at one visit. He did a root-cause analysis that was partially correct; based on the full-body x-ray (which I hope didn't damage anything) he calculated that one leg is 10mm shorter than the other. Wow, that explained a lot. My pain when running, my swollen and painful joints in the longer leg. The comparatively twisted toes of my shorter leg. The unevenness of my worn shoe treads, consistent on every pair.

He made his adjustments, I left the office and drove out of the angled drive instinctively cranking my head almost to the full range of motion to see oncoming traffic. At once I braced for what was surely to be the most excruciating pain yet, however I opened my eyes slowly in realization that instead of pain I felt a tingling relief. IT WORKED!...

Real funny commercial

Wait, what worked?

  1. Doing something for yourself. For weeks and even months prior I was moving my house, working slavishly, almost never satisfying my own needs. I was doing everything for others and nothing for me!
  2. A relaxing massage. What they termed "stimulation" was very comparable to a spa-style massage most would term "relaxation" which is exactly what I sub-consciously needed.
  3. Away from the stress. I was stressed at home with moving and at work. I split my time between the two almost exclusively. Walking through the door to the Chiropractor's office was like a portal into a different reality. No one discussed work with me, only my own needs and comfort level. Very different from work and even home.
  4. My well-being the center of attention by positive people. The Doctor listened to me, and assured me I would feel relief. He exhibited the attributes of the Power of Positive Thinking, making the most of the suggestive effect it had on my troubled brain. This basic technique is an oft-studied and well-documented repeatable scientific treatment.
  5. Exercise to relieve stress. Muscle stimulation is a passive form of exercise. Any exercise will do wonders for a host of problems thanks to the reduction of stress hormones like cortisol and increase of happy chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.

Many times this would be a better use of money than visiting a Doctor.
Many times this would be a better use of money than visiting a Doctor.

What's just misguided balderdash

The cracking and popping of the "adjustments" is nothing more than the sudden shifting of joint fluids that otherwise migrate gradually. They make noise when you allow them to by letting the pressure build up by not moving (stiff, tense) then releasing them by a sudden motion (best done after relaxing by unnaturally sudden strong stretches). This may seem like something's being "adjusted". Well, it sounds like something is working, doesn't it? The range of motion is higher than it was before, the pain is gone, and the scary cracking near the pain area doesn't even hurt. It even tingles in a good sort of way.

The suggestion that you will feel better is like a placebo, and you want to believe them. After all he is doing for you, why would you let him down? Believing you MIGHT feel better is miles away from being at work where people want you to suffer for your mistakes or even their shortcomings under the pressure. Just as a hostile environment can make you suffer, a positive one can help you to heal your hurts.

I'm not surprised most people report feeling better after a visit. Statistically, I also wouldn't be surprised if it were the same result if they went to a counselor or a massage session. I've proven it for myself by seeing a counselor (or friend) and talking or especially laughing. It can be even more effective for some when getting a massage (or having sex) to fix back and neck pain. Sex works for headaches too.

What's misguided balderdash is that you have to pay an MD for this. To clarify- paying an MD for sex is not at all what I mean! Actually it would be much cheaper to pay a prostitute than an MD! I wouldn't know, but prostitutes probably don't make you wait 45 minutes, fill out forms, and talk to you like you are the one who must be doing something wrong, lecture you about your choices, tell you not to enjoy this or that anymore, and after 5 minutes (whether you are satisfied or not) send you on your way with instructions to come back in a month. OK maybe they'd ask for you to come back but that depends on you.

What is Good Medicine?

The Doctor will be right in. Sit tight, and try not to think about your colleagues in that boring meeting while I put warm gel on your back.
The Doctor will be right in. Sit tight, and try not to think about your colleagues in that boring meeting while I put warm gel on your back.

Final Analysis of Chiropractic Care

There's work to be done. I'm a huge believer in alternative medicine. But there are many things wrong with much of the Chiropractic movement, so many it helps as much as it hurts in changing traditional health care. Let's separate the good from the bad, and keep that theme rolling throughout alternative medicine, supplementation, vitamins, and other promising avenues.

  • We must accept what other cultures have known and proven for thousands of years if it provides statistically significant positive results.
  • We don't have to understand it. If it works, let the people use it! I do that for myself and I'm one of the happiest, healthiest people around! This is coming from someone who was one of the unhappiest, sickest people in society.
  • It can be just as effective whether it's administered by a quack, charlatan, Doctor, or your Spouse. The focus should always be on the patient, and the treatment that will fix their problem.
  1. Stop or reduce the pain NOW
  2. Diagnose the true underlying ROOT CAUSE and address it accordingly
  3. Implement and SHARE the true fix to the problem if it is statistically repeatable, even if it may harm some people. Some people's situation may be that they will logically assume the risk, especially if they are in pain or have no better options available, this includes consideration of cost and barriers. Let them make an informed decision.
  4. IMPROVE and REDUCE all costs and barriers to the proper treatment, especially if it proves to be safe to the general population.

Notice that none of this requires understanding of small details. Most traditionally accepted treatments do not have a proven, unchanged, fully-detailed explanation of the mechanisms of action. Doctors pretend to know more about how it all works than they really do. It's the kind of BS that they have to be good at to pass all the testing and impress each other enough to keep the class alive but exclusive enough to demand high compensation and respect.

Notice further that all of this requires informing the patient and giving them choices. The most frustrating thing is not being able to choose a treatment when you are suffering and believe it will work. Too much regulation of patients' rights causes untold suffering. At least Chiropractors give you more choices, kudos to that! It worked for me!

Don't expose yourself to dangerous amounts of radiation, it can damage DNA. Especially if something goes wrong. Protect yourself just in case.
Don't expose yourself to dangerous amounts of radiation, it can damage DNA. Especially if something goes wrong. Protect yourself just in case.

January 2014 update:

Since I wrote this I must say I have more respect for chiropractics, as time goes on I'm gaining respect for non-prescription medicines, and alternative methods of healing. I'd love to go just by the studies, but studies are only as good as the people doing it. The people doing it are biased and can only study a couple variables at a time. There is much to be said about folk medicine, traditional healing methods, and trusting your fellow man enough to give it a try if it worked for them. As long as it isn't dangerous, give it a shot. Even if it is a placebo effect, if it is inexpensive and seems to work (relieves pain, discomfort), why go under a knife or put pharmaceuticals in you bloodstream?

Caring or Creepy? What do you think?

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© 2012 Doug Ocean


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I have been dealing with some neck pain lately. My grandmother see's a chiropractor often and she says it works for her. Maybe I should consider trying it out to see how well it works for myself.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Great article.

  • starlightreflex profile imageAUTHOR

    Doug Ocean 

    9 years ago from Ohio USA

    Oh boy, today something happened at the dentist that I'll write an article about, it is definitely worth sharing.

  • Johan Smulders profile image

    Johan Smulders 

    9 years ago from East London, South Africa

    Interresting, you may want to read my hup A Modern Miracle. It agrees somewhat with your ideas!

  • mjboomer profile image

    Mike Elzner 

    9 years ago from Oregon

    Great Hub, I haven't trusted chiropractors or even used them. I do enjoy message and spa treatments and thought about physical therapy.


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