Back Specialist Randallstown MD
Owings Mills, MD
Windsor Mill, MD
Owings Mills, MD
By Anthony L. Rosner, PHD, Chiropractor
I have urged my husband to see a chiropractor for his neck pain, but he’s reluctant because he’s heard that adjustments of the cervical spine can cause stroke. Is there any basis for his concern?
The possibility of suffering a stroke as a result of chiropractic manipulation is extremely rare, occurring in fewer than 1 in 5.5 million manipulations. To understand the rarity of this occurring, consider this fact: The chance of a chiropractic manipulation causing a stroke is comparable to the risk of stroke from turning your head while driving, gazing at the stars, swimming, doing t’ai chi, or just having your hair washed in a hair salon—that is, highly unlikely.
A recent study at the University of Calgary showed that forces exerted upon the vertebral artery during manipulation were actually less than those experienced during normal head rotations and diagnostic testing. Furthermore, the forces in chiropractic treatment were only 11 percent of what could possibly cause arterial damage.
We put ourselves at far greater risk taking pain relievers or undergoing surgery. The risk of death is 400 to 700 times greater from the use of medicines such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or from surgery to treat many of the same conditions as those managed by chiropractors.
The fact is most cases of stroke are either spontaneous or the result of cumulative factors or trauma—not spinal manipulation. Unfortunately, these unfounded warnings may dissuade some people from seeking—and greatly benefiting—from spinal manipulation.
It is critical, however, that anyone having worrisome symptoms—severe neck or headache pain that has not been commonly experienced before, dizziness, or vomiting—seek immediate medical care. But once again, the chance of chiropractic treatment causing a stroke is extremely unlikely.
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