Can Chiropractic Cause Stroke?

This has been a huge debate for several years. A patient recently told me that a local company was informing their employees of the risk of stroke and Chiropractic so (of course) the company is no longer going to cover Chiropractic care in their insurance plans…. In my opinion it’s another low and dirty way to get out of covering alternative health care that has helped millions of people.

But let’s talk about the facts and get it all out there.

First of all, every study or case regarding stroke and Chiropractic are with manual manipulation ONLY.  The safest technique with no record of contraindications to adjusting a patient with vascular disease is an Activator Certified physician. You know, like us:)

As they say bad news spreads faster than good news.

An example of a recent case is a woman in New York who had seen a Chiropractor for 20 years getting great care for headaches. She then began seeing a different Chiropractor who on her first visit “twisted her neck to the right then to the left”. She was extremely sore following each visit and after the 3rd visit with the same manipulation each time, the doctor even performed this twisting TWICE on the same visit because he didn’t hear a pop, she began suffering speech and motor issues. She had a stroke as a result of a torn artery in her neck.

It is unfortunate and disheartning that there are ANY even if it is few cases such as hers. However, stroke is one of the leading causes of death and as Chiropractors we need to know when someone is at risk and care for them accordingly. What people don’t talk about is all the great doctors out there that find early stages of arterial insufficiencies in patients which help prevent them from having strokes or other problems in the future.

Despite websites and articles stating cases against Chiropractic manipulation I think the fact that Chiropractors have the lowest Malpractic Insurance of all medical doctors says it all. Even a major Malpractic Insurance Company, NCMIC stated in the recently published “Current Concepts: Spinal Manipulation and Cervical Arterial Incidents 2005” concludes in it’s Executive Summary: “Unfortunately, opinion rather than fact has tended to dominate discussions regarding CVAs and chiropractic, even though there has been no definitive evidence that chiropractic adjustments (actually) cause strokes. The good news is that this monograph notes that a causative relationship between chiropractic manipulation and stroke is unlikely. There is an associative relationship between the two because people may go to chiropractors for relief of stroke-related symptoms”.

Even in Canada they did a 10 year study of 4500 Chiropractors and found “The likelihood that a chiropractor will be made aware of an arterial dissection following cervical manipulation is approximately 1:8.06 million office visits, 1:5.85 million cervical manipulations, 1:1430 chiropractic practice years and 1:48 chiropractic practice careers. This is significantly less than the estimates of 1:500,000–1 million cervical manipulations calculated from surveys of neurologists”.

Those are staggeringly low numbers which still seem to get hype considering iatrogenic disease (death caused by a doctor, hospital, misdiagnosis or medication) is now the #2 leading cause of death in the U.S. as of 2010!

I am still amazed that only a handful of cases in the last 30 years relating Chiropractic and stroke can still get so much media. Especially when there are millions who have been able to walk, get off medications, go back to work and even live because of their Chiropractic care!

There are dangers if you have arterial disease or deficiency. Actually any disturbance to the vertebral arteries such as turning too quickly, laying your head over a wash basin and a car collision have all been proven to increase your risk of a stroke. So, choose your Doctor wisely. Not all Chiropractors are gentle and specific with their adjustments, just as their are bad surgeons, dentists and MD’s. Ask questions, check out their certifications and even watch an adjustment in their office.

I encourage you to spread the good news about your results and Chiropractic! We need to take the lead in inspiring others not scaring them. Fear is a useful tool that insurance and pharmaceutical companies use to keep people on their medications.

Our body is resilient and it has the power to heal!

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