Arterial Dissection

Many people seek alternative therapies for back and neck pain, and chiropractic is among the most popular choices. While most patients–and some chiropractors themselves–believe that there are no risks associated with chiropractic spinal manipulation, cases that have been studied as far back as 1947 show that there are in fact risks. Published medical literature reveals that the most frequently reported complication of chiropractic is stroke.

Click HERE to learn about established medical literature on the relationship between chiropractic, vertebral arterial dissection, and stroke.


Unfortunately, the chiropractic insurance industry has funded literature that disputes this connection. Chiropractors continue to perform cervical manipulations that can lead to arterial dissection and even stroke.

When a chiropractor adjusts a patient’s neck, the vertebral artery is twisted by the manipulation. When the artery is twisted at a high velocity, there is a risk that it can tear or dissect. Studies show that the carotid and basilar arteries may also be vulnerable to tearing following manipulation. The dissection does not tear through the artery: these are intimal tears, very small ones, on the inside lining of the arteries.

Click HERE to learn how doctors diagnose arterial dissections.


Blood enters the aortic wall when the inner layer of the aorta tears, and it “dissects” or separates the layers of the aorta from one another. This weakens the aorta and can lead to a life-threatening rupture, burst or leak.

The blood in the aortic wall forms a clot, thickening the artery wall and often impeding blood flow. Sometimes it can cause immediate symptoms such as painful headaches. Some tears never cause symptoms and heal on their own without treatment.

If blood clots break off from the site of the tear, they form emboli (similar to scabs) that can travel through the arteries to the brain and block the blood supply to the brain, resulting in a stroke. There can also be a delay of symptoms by days or even weeks.

Click HERE to learn about the signs and symptoms of a stroke.

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