According to the National Institutes of Health, chiropractic care is considered a form of complementary health. Approximately 9.1 percent of adults saw a chiropractor in 2012. The percentage rose to 10.3 percent for the year 2017. About $3.9 billion was spent on chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation in 2017.
People generally see chiropractors for lower back pain. They may also treat with a chiropractor for neck pain, shoulder discomfort, headaches, and other ailments. Chiropractic treatment focuses on manual therapies and adjustments. “A chiropractic adjustment involves using the hands or a device to apply a controlled, rapid force to a joint. The goal is to increase the range and quality of motion in the area being treated and to aid in restoring health.”
Neck manipulation risks involved with chiropractic care
U.S. News and World Report summarized many of the risks involved with chiropractor care. These dangers included an increased risk of stroke for patients who get a neck adjustment by a chiropractor and an osteopathic physician. “High-velocity neck manipulations,” according to the American Heart Association physicians, can be especially dangerous.
Neck manipulations are more risky than thoracic and lumbar spinal manipulations because “chiropractors cannot create enough force to damage [the mid and lower back] regions, says Dr. Ramin Jahavery, a pediatric neurosurgeon with the Pediatric Surgery Center at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Long Beach, California.”
Doctors say it is not an acceptable risk to chance a ruptured artery for quick but temporary relief according to the U.S. News and World Report. The magazine also referenced a 2010 study published in Medscape. That study showed that chiropractic treatment and neck manipulations can be fatal and cause vascular accidents.
While many chiropractors argue that patients who had a cervical manipulation and a stroke would have had a stroke without the manipulations, many doctors disagree. They say that cervical manipulation is an “independent risk factor” for stroke.
In a Washington Post article on neck manipulations and stroke, “Felipe Albuquerque, a neurosurgeon in Phoenix who has studied stroke injury after neck manipulation, said that assertions that those who suffer tears in their neck arteries would have had a stroke regardless of the treatment suggest an “uncanny coincidence.”
Dr. Albuquerque stated that, for the patient’s he’s seen, the stroke that occurred after the chiropractic adjustment was either made worse by the adjustment or there was a new arterial injury. Albuquerque said that Americans treat with chiropractors more than 250,000,000 times yearly. About 3 in 10 of those treatments involved a cervical manipulation.
Steps to take before seeing a chiropractor
- Get a referral from a physician or someone they trust.
- Be aware that, in some cases, going to an emergency room or seeing your family doctor may be the better option.
- Think about treating with an osteopath. Osteopaths “are fully licensed physicians who can practice in all areas of medicine. They receive special training in the musculoskeletal system, which connects the body’s system of nerves, muscle and bones.”
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