You likely don’t think your weekly or monthly chiropractic adjustments could result in injury or death. But when you think about the sudden, somewhat violent nature of spinal adjustments, it’s understandable why it may have caused deaths in the past. These adjustments can narrow arteries, tear blood pathways, and they might even cause blood clots, leading to strokes.
In this article, we’re looking at whether people have died receiving spinal adjustments. It also looks at some of the risks involved in chiropractic adjustments. While most are not threatening, spinal manipulations performed at the neck are particularly threatening.
Chiropractic adjustments can work in unison with other forms of exercise therapy. Whether you’re using a treadmill desk and you need a posture adjustment or you’re seeking chiropractic therapy as an alternative to surgery, you should know the risks involved. Continue reading to learn more about the potential risks of chiropractic care and whether it’s dangerous.
What Is Chiropractic Medicine?
If you’re considering chiropractic care, you should understand that chiropractors are not medical doctors. These professionals are required to earn four-year degrees from attending a chiropractic college but they do not have to complete the same medical training as doctors.
Every state requires chiropractic colleges to receive accreditation from the Council of Chiropractic Education. After completing chiropractic school, you must pass a licensing exam before you can treat patients. Some chiropractors might choose to specialize in areas and they can choose a specialty that lasts one or two years.
In its most basic sense, chiropractic care utilizes spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments to realign the body’s joints. This realignment can potentially accelerate the body’s natural healing process. Spinal manipulation can also potentially restore mobility to joints that would otherwise be restricted by tissue injuries.
People with a history of strokes or who are on a blood thinner have a risk for stroke, or the elderly should avoid neck manipulation altogether. Even if you don’t fall into these categories, you should consider trying other forms of therapy. Massage, traction, stabilization exercises, and flexibility training can all accomplish similar effects as chiropractic care.
Deaths from chiropractic care aren’t common. They occur at the same rate as natural strokes occur. However, inconclusive evidence exists to support the full scope of chiropractic care benefits.
What Are the Potential Drawbacks of Chiropractic Treatment?
Serious injuries can result from chiropractic adjustments. In one such case, a 41-year-old woman suffered a series of strokes after a chiropractic adjustment. These strokes resulted in the left side of her body being paralyzed and blindness in her left eye.
The most famous study regarding potential health risks resulting from chiropractic adjustments found 26 cases of death caused by chiropractic spinal manipulation. In these cases, patients died due to tears in their vertebral arteries. Another study found that spinal manipulation, particularly those performed on the upper spine, were frequently associated with mild to moderate detrimental effects.
Experts say that injuries and death from chiropractic adjustments are rare. However, all patients must understand the risks of the care they receive. This is especially true for people who have certain health conditions.
How Risky Is Cervical Manipulation
As previously stated, cervical (neck) manipulations are the primary area of concern regarding chiropractic care. Most studies agree the risk of these types of manipulations are around one to three incidents per million treatments.
Risks of Other Common Treatments for Neck Symptoms
To paint an accurate picture of the risks of spinal manipulations, one must compare the findings of these studies to those conducted regarding other forms of treatment. When compared, you will find that many of the alternative treatments to back and neck pain carry significantly higher risks.
Perhaps the most commonly accepted form of treatment, that of pharmaceutical drugs, is at least somewhat riskier than chiropractic care. One study found that the mortality rate for NSAID-induced ulcers among patients treated for non-rheumatic conditions, such as musculoskeletal pain and osteoarthritis was 3200 annually in the US.
More invasive techniques, such as neck surgery are also commonly used for similar conditions as those treated by spinal manipulation. Comparatively, there are around 4,000-10,000 deaths per million neck surgeries.
What to Expect After a Chiropractic Adjustment
Chiropractic care should ultimately reduce your neck and back pain. You can also seek chiropractic care if you’re looking to recover from an injury. Initially, however, you might feel worse following the first few adjustments. The following are examples of side effects that you might feel following a chiropractic adjustment.
When you receive a chiropractic adjustment, your chiropractor aligns your vertebrae into their natural position. Nearby muscles that support your spine also have to adjust to this movement and either lengthen or shorten to stabilize the area. This process can cause muscle soreness. You can compare this type of muscle soreness to the soreness you feel after beginning a new exercise routine.
You shouldn’t be surprised if you experience cold symptoms following your chiropractic visit. Chiropractic care can boost the immune system activity, which might include the body initiating a flush process. This flushing process can cause symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and a runny nose. However, these symptoms are simply your body clearing out toxins.
It is possible to experience some digestive changes following a chiropractic care session. Because your digestive system connects to the vertebrae in your lower back, adjustments to that area can cause some fluctuations in bowel movements.
Bottom Line- Has Chiropractic Care Ever Killed Anyone?
Chiropractic care has killed people, but it rarely results in serious complications or death. Most of the time, chiropractic care can provide patients with at least temporary symptoms for their ailment. However, it’s important to note that inconclusive evidence suggests that chiropractic care has an effect on chronic and acute pain.
You should check with your doctor before receiving chiropractic care to ensure you are not at an increased risk. They will be able to tell whether your medical history poses a threat in regard to receiving chiropractic adjustments.
- About the Author
Alex Grigoryan is a Professional Home Improvement and Lifestyle Writer. He has been in the industry for over 6 years and has been writing for Chique Home Living since 2019. His work has been featured in prestigious blogs such as Spruce Home, Better Homes & Garden, and more.