Hotly contested by health practitioners is whether chiropractic
manipulations of the neck can increase risk for strokes, which
occur when blood flow to the brain is blocked in a blood vessel
because of a clot formed in an artery. Many claim these cervical
adjustments lead to strokes in patients after manipulation,
while chiropractors and their patients are obviously concerned
if there is any truth to these allegations.
A recent study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal
estimated the risk of stroke in a series of cases covered
by the Canadian Chiropractic Protective Association (CCPA).
The authors reviewed malpractice records to evaluate stroke
claims following chiropractic treatments from 1988-1997. This
number was compared to the total number of cervical manipulations
performed yearly by chiropractors covered by the CCPA.
The odds that a patient will suffer a stroke after receiving
cervical manipulation are one per 8 million office visits,
or one per roughly 6 million cervical manipulations, according
to this study. Twenty-three cases of stroke after chiropractic
adjustment were on record; yet approximately 135 million cervical
adjustments were carried out by 4,500 chiropractors over the
These data indicate that stroke is probably much less likely
in chiropractic patients than has been estimated by neurologists
(about one per 500,000-1 million). If you have any questions
or concerns about stroke related to chiropractic, ask your
chiropractor for more information.
Haldeman S, Carey P, Townsend M, et al. Arterial dissections
following cervical manipulation: The chiropractic experience.
Canadian Medical Association Journal 2001:165(7), pp.
For more background information on chiropractic, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/find/whatis.html.