Chiropractors/Pinched nerve in neck


hi -

Two months ago I sustained a cervical spine injury doing a yoga pose, I believe (shoulderstand into plow).  I am 51 and normally in excellent shape.

I had pain for 2-3 weeks through the shoulder, down the right arm and into the fingers.  Pain is gone and I am left with a weak triceps (right) and numb right index finger.  My right hand is somewhat crampy.  I had an MRi that showed bulging discs and narrowing of the neuroforamen at C6 (amongst other things).

Was told by a neurologist today (who I very much trust and respect) that I will require surgery to decompress the nerve (most likely an ACDF).  He also said there is no guarantee that the weakness will improve. this is very concerning as this is my right arm.  My neurosurgery appointment is in 2 weeks.

I spoke to a chiropractor tonight who feels he can help me with low force technique and will admit, I'm afraid of any sort of adjusting to my neck.  What are your thoughts about treating cervical pinched nerves when surgery is being proposed? Have you seen people with significant muscle weakness recover?


Hi Susan,

What you are describing is quite common.   You deserve to obtain some manual therapy by a DC before going into surgery - and - you must obtain a second opinion on spine surgery.    I noticed you were in MA.   There are a lot of good spine surgeons in MA (Mitch' Hardenbrook comes to mind).   The triceps weakness is typical, and it's true that it might not come back all the way, and it also might come back in full force.  Bulging discs and narrowing alone are not enough to warrant immediate surgery, especially at only two months out (in my opinion).    As for "low force techniques," they are, for the most part, not viable procedures in place of more tried/true manual methods.   Some are truly BS...  There is no reason to shy away from combinations of manual neck tractioning, skilled high velocity joint manipulation, and soft tissue mobilization methods (e.g. FAKTR or Graston Techn), posture exercises, and ergonomic changes.   Unless you have significant nerve impingement, with loss of your reflexes, relentless pain that is not improving with conservative care, or worsening signs/symptoms, then don't do surgery right away.   Get that 2nd opinion by an experienced orthopedic or neuro spine surgeon.

'Hope this was helpful.

Dr. G'


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Scott F. Gillman, DC, DACBSP


21 Years in practice: I can answer any question regarding chiropractic and sports medicine treatment. Mostly, I can help the unknowing public understand what is safe, valid, reasonable and evidence-based, and what kinds of unscrupulous chiropractors and fraudulent methods to stay away from. I have an advanced specialty degree in Chiropractic Sports Medicine. I have experience treating elite and Olympic athletes.



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