Chiropractic and Stroke

If you or someone you love has had a stroke after a chiropractic manipulation, you’re not alone. Medical literature has documented cases like these and concluded that these is an established relationship between chiropractic cervical manipulation, vertebral arterial dissection, and stroke.

In 2006, the Emergency Medical Journal published an article, Vertebral artery dissection and cerebellar infarction following chiropractic manipulation, that discussed a 28-year-old man in good health who suffered vertebral arterial dissection and stroke after a chiropractic cervical manipulation. The authors, Chen, Chern and Lee, presented the pitfalls of properly diagnosing the patient.

Recommendations based on the study

As they detailed the steps doctors took with the patient, they developed two significant recommendations which, if followed, would help doctors more quickly and accurately diagnose these debilitating and life-threatening conditions.

Because immediate treatment is key to a best possible outcome for a patient who has had a stroke, doctors must be prepared to make a quick and accurate diagnosis.

Their first recommendation, considering the meandering path doctors took to diagnose the patient in question, was that as a baseline, patients presenting with recent onset of vertigo and loss of balance should be examined for vertebral artery dissection and stroke.

Their second recommendation was that when taking a patient’s history, medical professionals should raise questions about the presence or absence of recent spinal manipulation.

What other researchers have found

The significance of their recommendations is supported by their references to other published medical journalism, such as W.S. Smith’s article stating that chiropractic manipulation independently increases the risk of vertebral arterial dissection with stroke by approximately six fold. In addition, they cited three other articles (1, 2, and 3) that say rates of vertebral arterial dissection following cervical manipulation could be as high as 1 in 10,000.