Is Chiropractic Neck adjusting dangerous

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Chiropractic is a safe treatment for neck pain

Chiropractic is a very safe treatment for neck pain. Many patients have a concern of having parallelization or stroke after treatment. I always joke that everybody's got of friend’s, uncle’s, brother's first nephew who was paralyzingly killed by a chiropractor. I always ask them to talk to their source and find the person who is hurt by a chiropractor, but nobody has been able to find the person. It usually turns up as a fable story told by someone who does not check their facts.

The statistics have been published for numerous years and very well studied. Depending on which article you read the risk of severe chiropractic injury are between 1 in 1,000,000 to 3,000,000. My risk of of severe neck injury was much greater on the car ride to work today.

In this article from the Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics followed a case study of a cerebral vascular infarction from their general practitioner providing's cervical manipulations. Immediately after the treatment the person had severe headaches and neurologic symptoms that had completely disappeared within three months. There is a further follow-up at seven years evaluating the person. The person continued to show a lack of symptoms at seven years, despite findings and on a CT and MRI suggesting an infarction.

The risks are very low, especially when treatment is provided within reason. Skilled providers look for signs and symptoms that suggest manipulation may not be in the patient's best interest. In addition there are other ways to adjust person besides manually manipulating the neck. Thompson drop in activator technique are excellent sources of adjusting stuck joints without risking the torsion applied to a cervical adjustment.

There are millions upon millions of cervical adjustments applied each year. If the risk was as high as uncle Ted's, barber's, friend's, second cousin suggests then chiropractic would not be a very common treatment for individuals with neck pain. In addition there are many more studies suggesting it's clinical effectiveness and safety for cervical spine, headaches, and neck pain symptoms over most other treatments provided.

The case study can be read below. For more information on activator technique please visit their website at

Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics

Volume 26, Issue 1 , Pages 48-52, January 2003

Is cervical spinal manipulation dangerous?

Peter B. Licht, MD, PhD, Henrik W. Christensen, DC, MD, Poul F. Høilund-Carlsen, MD, DMSc


Objective: Concern about cerebrovascular accidents after cervical manipulation is common. We report a case of cerebrovascular infarction without sequelae. Clinical Features: A 39-year-old man with nonspecific neck pain was treated by his general practioner with cervical manipulation. Intervention and Outcome: This immediately elicited severe headache and neurologic symptoms that disappeared completely within 3 months despite permanent signs of a complete left-sided cerebellar infarction on computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. At 7-year follow-up the patient was fully employed, and repeated magnetic resonance imaging still showed infarction of the left cerebellar hemisphere. However, the patient remained completely free of neurologic symptoms, and color duplex ultrasonography showed normal cervical vessels, including patent vertebral arteries. Conclusion: It appears that the risk of cerebrovascular accidents after cervical manipulation is low, considering the enormous number of treatments given each year, and very much lower than the risk of serious complications associated with generally accepted surgery. Provided there is a solid indication for cervical manipulation, we believe that the risk involved is acceptably low and that the fear of serious complications is greatly exaggerated. (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2003;26:48-52)

No full text is available. To read the body of this article, please view the PDF online.

Alpha Chiropractic & Physical Therapy believes in combing the specialties and experiences of a medical physician, chiropractor, physical therapist, and massage therapists for treating injuries. This comprehensive treatment approach often produces better results in less time by addressing the muscle and joint aspect to every injury. Our clinic is conveniently located to serve the Ahwatukee, Chandler, Tempe, and Gilbert communities. To learn more about our treatments please visit the Resource Pages or Home Page.