The scientific practice of Chiropractic has been well documented as to not only the effectiveness but also the safety. It is safer than taking muscle relaxants or having back surgery. The British Medical Journal reported on January 23, 1999 on a research study for low back pain that Chiropractic is one of the safest forms of treatment available. The New Zealand report printed in 1979 as a result of a New Zealand government enquiry reported that Chiropractic care is “remarkably safe”. The profession is delivering millions of adjustments daily to satisfied patients all around the world. Chiropractic care is non invasive therefore the body’s’ response to it is more predictable than its reactions to drug treatments or surgical conditions. Chiropractic treatment should only be rendered by a professional with proper training and experience in Chiropractic adjusting techniques.

How Safe Is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is recognized as one of the safest types of health care in the world. Numerous studies, including those funded by governments, universities and non-profit research institutions, have proven it to be a successful primary therapy for neuromusculoskeletal conditions - a therapy that is safer, in fact, than most medical procedures used to treat the same conditions. Chiropractic is also widely used as a complementary mode of care for a variety of other conditions and diseases and to promote overall health and well-being.

Is There A Connection Between Stroke and Chiropractic Treatment?

Would you think twice about cradling the phone on your shoulder, checking your blind spot while backing into a parking space or getting your hair shampooed at a salon? The risk of stroke from Chiropractic care is no greater than it is from any of these everyday activities. The source of public concern in this regard is a condition known as vertebral artery syndrome (VAS), which occurs when sudden head movements disrupt the blood flow in the vertebral artery, possibly leading to stroke. As the above examples illustrate, the risk of this complication arising from upper cervical (or neck) manipulation by a Chiropractor is extremely remote. According to the 1996 RAND report, “The Appropriateness of Manipulation and Mobilization of the Cervical Spine,” only one out of every one million Chiropractic patients experiences VAS. To put it another way you are five times more likely to get hit by lightning than to suffer VAS at the hands of a Chiropractor.

Research has shown that the arteries in the neck do not undergo any more strain in Chiropractic treatment compared to neck movements in normal daily activities. This probably came as no surprise to most Chiropractors as a normal adjustment of the neck rarely involves much more than 45° of rotation and slight extension. This is a position that most people do routinely in normal activities several times every day.

How Does The Safety of Chiropractic Compare To Other Medical Procedures?

In comparison to allopathic medicine, which uses drugs and surgery as an integral part of treatment, Chiropractic presents far less risk. Consider, for example, that in the United States an estimated 140,000 people die each year from drug-related reactions. The risk of death due to gastrointestinal complications from taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen is 400 times greater than the complication rate for people who receive cervical manipulation, while the mortality rate for people who undergo cervical spine surgery is 7,000 times higher. Serious complications after neck treatment are very rare and only occur once in two to five million treatments.  To put it in perspective, this is safer than crossing the road and safer than the drugs used to treat these conditions.

A nine-year study that showed that the incidence of VAS is not higher after seeing a Chiropractor than a GP (Cassidy et al 2008;33;4S, S176-S183). Family physicians do not manipulate, so why did people suffer stroke after seeing their GP? Well, the explanation is that the people already where in the middle of having a stroke when they contacted their Chiropractor or GP. Neck pain and headache are common symptoms of VAS, typically preceding it and people experiencing headache and neck pain may choose to consult a Chiropractor or GP.

Chiropractors Provide A Thorough Examination

With all forms of treatment, whether allopathic or alternative, any risks, however slight, should not be ignored. While the methods used by Chiropractors have proven to be safe in almost all cases, it is a constant concern for Chiropractors to evaluate their patients to determine if treatment will cause an adverse reaction. It is not appropriate for every patient to receive a similar type of adjustment. A thorough examination provides the Chiropractor with the information necessary to provide the right type of adjustment, in the right place, at the right time.

Minor complications can include soreness and stiffness after treatment. This is entirely normal, as the body is responding to the positive changes that are being made.  This happens to about 1 person in 20.