Chiropractors/neck noises/Activator


I was hit 3 times down the back of my neck with an Activator and then stretched right and left. I had burning/tingling thereafter for months.  Could this move structures to cause them to rub or fit incorrectly or ligaments be moved out of place to cause them to now catch and snap on bone spurs?  I now have noise with every movement: cracking, crackling, crunching, popping, gritty tons of sounds all the time.  I feel things move and pop as well inside my neck and on the outside with my fingers. It is very unsettling to have this after an adjustment. I had none of this prior.  I just don't understand why all this started. It is scary to hear and feel things crunch and move constantly.  Is there anything that can be done to lessen this that I can do? I do have a degenerative neck.  I did not have much pain and did not realize the chiropractor was doing an adjustment as did not know what an Activator was.  He just said let's get movement in here and popped me.  I never, ever would have wanted this done knowing my neck is so compromised. It is hard to hear and feel this all day long.  I also fear it has added to the degeneration in my neck and to pain one day. Thanks

Dear Jeanne,

First of all, I have no background information. What brought you to the chiropractor in the first place? How old are you? What history of neck and spinal trauma have you had in the past? What spinal surgeries/treatments have you had in the past? What underlying medical conditions could be contributing to your neck pain/stiffness? How much spinal degeneration do you have? Does the degeneration include discs, facets, lushka joints? What spinal levels are involved? Do you have Rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, gout, or any other arthritic conditions? Are you debilitated due to inactivity? Do you exercise regularly? What activities did you do before and after the adjustment/therapy?... the list could go on and on.

Regarding your treatment with the chiropractor... an activator adjustment is one of the lowest force techniques in your chiropractic doctor's "bag of treatments". I use the activator on one-month old babies, and on 100 year old women. It does not realign anything. It might, at most, cause a simple, short lived, vibrational/elastic movement through a joint. It is very Very VERY safe. Activator adjustments cannot move structures to cause them to rub or fit incorrectly. It cannot move ligaments "out of place", nor can it cause ligaments to catch and snap on bones spurs.  Noises with movement, in the form of cracking, crackling, crunching, popping, etc is most likely the result of IMPROVED movement in degenerative joints. Soreness and tenderness in the supporting musculature in the neck is more likely the result of lazy and detonified muscles now having to work... to do the jobs that they were designed for. Joint noise and muscle soreness is NOT anything that the chiropractor did wrong, and is simply a by-product of you now being able to move worn out joints just a little bit better. Movement is life... even if it is a little bit noisy due to your pre-existing underlying cervical spine degenerative arthritic changes and supporting musculature weakness. The chiropractor did not compromise your neck.  Sometimes when we receive treatment, it takes time to actually improve. The chiropractor helped your neck to move. Your neck is just not used to moving.  

I guarantee you that a simple activator and stretching session with your chiropractor is one of the most benign and gentle forms of treatment that you will ever receive from any type of medical provider.  You are likely to sustain more "trauma" from:  turning your head quickly, sleeping wrong, coughing/sneezing, working on the computer/reading a book, working or reaching overhead, lifting a sack of potatoes, stumbling over a curb or step, bumping your head in the door frame of your car, etc.

Your neck pain is the net result of degenerative conditions, which in turn is the result of all events throughout your entire life. It is not the result of a singular chiropractic activator adjustment.  An activator adjustment, in my mind, at best simply helps supporting musculature in the neck to relax and to allow for joint movement. That is never a bad thing... even if it causes you to experience some joint noises.

The activator adjustment did not add to the degeneration in your neck, nor to your neck pain.

My advise to you is this... follow through with treatment. Continue to work towards improving motion and function in your neck. Do home stretch and strengthen exercises. Seek movement, not fixation.  You were designed to move and function.

I hope that this helps you to better understand.


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Keith E. Biggs, DC


I can answer questions regarding chiropractic care and diagnosis, exercise rehabilitation, spine therapy, disc injuries, back pain, neck pain, headaches, sports injuries, car accident injuries, physical therapeutics, acupuncture, homeopathy, clinical nutrition, decompression traction, acupressure, acugraphing, orthotics, arch supports, carpal tunnel, sciatica, degenerative joint disease, arthritis, weight loss, etc.


I have been in private practice for more than 20 years in Mesa, AZ. In my practice I have seen thousands of patients with many different conditions. Every patient is unique and requires individualized attention and care. I pride myself in attentive and appropriate care for every individual that comes to my office

Arizona Chiropractic Society


Doctor of Chiropractic, Cum Laude,Logan College of Chiropractic, 1987. Bachelor of Science in Human Biology, Logan College of Chiropractic. Licensed to practice Chiropractic in Arizona. Certification in Acupuncture. Certification in Physiotherapy and Traction.

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I have treated thousands of people in my private practice during the past 21 years, and in the process, I have learned so much. Practice guidelines and patient privacy laws prohibit the naming of past patients.

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