A study in the prestigious RAND corporation has concluded that manipulation of the cervical spine (the neck) is effective for chronic neck pain and many headaches. (Spinal manipulation is often called an adjustment by chiropractic doctors)

Back in July 1991, RAND released a similar study of all available published research on the effectiveness of spinal manipulation for acute low back pain. That study rocked the previously skeptical medical world with the conclusion that indeed, spinal manipulation is effective for low back pain. In contrast, they found that the most traditional medical remedies were no better than simple aspirin. Bed rest, one of the mainstays of traditional medical care, was even found to be harmful for more than a day or two.

Over the years, RAND has done research for major corporations, the U.S. Government and the medical community. Because of its thorough and objective studies, it has gained the respect of the scientific community worldwide. That is why the low back pain study in 1991 made headlines.

The study was done by a nine member panel with included 4 chiropractic doctors, 4 medical doctors, and a doctor who has both medical and chiropractic degrees. They examined all available literature on cervical spinal manipulation or mobilization and concluded:


“Evidence from the literature supports the conclusion that the cervical spine manipulation and/or mobilization may provide at least short term pain relief and range of motion enhancement for persons with subacute or chronic neck pain.”


“The literature suggests that cervical spine manipulation and/or mobilization may provide short-term relief for some patients with muscle tension (and other non-migraine) headaches.

Chiropractic doctors have often found adjustments of the neck to help other problems, including: migraine headache, acute neck pain, shoulder, arm and hand pain, pain in the jaw (temporal mandibular joint disorders), as well as carpal tunnel syndrome. There are studies showing that these conditions respond to chiropractic treatment and support the effectiveness of chiropractic care for these problems. Additionally, more Federal funds for chiropractic research have only recently become available, part in due to the RAND studies. In addition, the past studies on back pain have become so numerous and so convincing that researchers are moving on to other areas like adjustments to the cervical spine.

RAND also examined the risk of complication from cervical spine adjustments and found it to be extremely rare. RAND estimated that complications only occur 1.46 times for every million adjustments and they are serious only .639 times per million. Complications from drugs or surgery are thousands of times more common, so compared to other types of health care, adjustments to the neck are very safe.

If you or someone you know suffers from chronic neck pain, tension headaches, or for that matter, low back pain, the RAND studies say chiropractic offers effective and very safe relief.