The treatment of neck pain has become a sore subject in the British Medical Journal published today. 

In the edition Neil O’Connell, from Centre for Research and Rehabilitation at Brunel University and colleagues argue that cervical spine manipulation “may carry the potential for serious neurovascular complication.”

Cervical spine manipulation focuses on the neck and involves a range of high-speed manual manoeuvres that stretch or manipulate the upper spine in order to relieve pain.

Spinal manipulation could tear the lining of the vertebral artery, which is located in the neck and supplies blood to the brain. This action may result in a stroke.

In O’Connell’s view the risk of using manipulation for neck pain outweigh the benefits.

However in the same edition of the British Medical Journal, Professor David Cassidy from the University of Toronto retorted that it is a valuable addition to patient care.

Manipulating the spine can be used to treat neck and back pain or other musculoskeletal conditions. It is a technique used most commonly by chiropractors. 

Both colleagues agree that they want to see more research into the pros and cons of this and other techniques with the aim of identifying safe and effective treatment. 

Photo by Getty