Chiropractic & Strokes: Is It Safe?
The safety of chiropractic care related to stroke risk is no longer in question. Chiropractic is safe.
Respected researchers in a ground-breaking study stated:
“We found no evidence of excess risk of VBA stroke associated with chiropractic care compared to primary care.”
Leading researchers concluded that chiropractic care DOES NOT increase the risk of stroke due to arterial dissection and published the results of their study in Spine, a journal internationally recognized as the foremost journal dedicated to the treatment of spinal disorders.
After analyzing a nine year period of patient data, a Canadian research team found that of the 818 cases involving stroke, the involved patients were just as likely to have seen their primary care physician (medical doctor) as they were to have seen a Doctor of Chiropractic before their stroke.
It is thought that in cases of vertebral artery stroke, patients often seek care from a medical doctor or chiropractor for neck pain and/or headaches that occur before their stroke. This type of neck pain and/or headaches produced is a result of damage that is occurring within the vertebrobasilar artery that ultimately is associated with the stroke that is in process.
In other words, the stroke is already beginning to occur and the first symptoms are often the headache and/or neck pain that the patient is seeking care for in a doctor’s office. Later, as the stroke process progresses, typical signs and symptoms appear. It should be noted that it may be difficult in the early stages of the stroke process for a doctor to conclude that a stroke is in progress because the early signs and symptoms can be quite subtle and can mimic less serious causes for neck pain and/or headaches.
Among the key points of these top researchers’ conclusion:
- Vertebrobasilar artery stroke is a rare event in the population.
- We found no evidence of excess risk of VBA stroke associated with chiropractic care.
This is excellent news for our Sacramento and Rancho Cordova chiropractic patients. It is important to note that not only is VBA stroke risk NOT associated with chiropractic care, VBA stroke is a very rare event in general.
According to the International Chiropractors Association Spring 2008 ICA Review magazine: “though the researchers admitted they were looking for an increased association between chiropractic care and stroke, they did not find one.”
Chiropractic is safe. This study supports other studies, including one published in 2001 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, that states the risk of getting a stroke due to chiropractic adjustments was less than one in nearly 6 million. In contrast, the risk of death from regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (i.e. ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, COX-2 inhibitors, etc) is one in four thousand.
In terms of comparative risk the following statistics are striking:
Death related to cervical spine surgery/procedure 1 in 145
Death by regular NSAID use/users 1 in 4,000
Death rate from cervical spine surgery 4-10 in 10,000
Death by being struck by an automobile/year 1 in 20,000
Strokes from birth control pills 1 in 24,000
Death by lightening strike/year 1 in 2,000,000
Death from cervical manipulation 1 in 5,850,000
These figures are from data found on the International Chiropractors Association of California website. You may also want to read information from the California Chiropractic Association.