Chiropractic vs. Medical Literature

The chiropractic industry has been in denial about the causal relationship between cervical manipulation and stroke for a long time. They have gone so far as to develop studies aimed at disproving the link, but epidemiologic data are easily manipulated to produce desired results. Most chiropractors believe cervical manipulation is one of several optimal treatments for reducing back pain and improving range of motion, even in people who do not suffer from neck pain.

Medical literature says otherwise, so chiropractic literature and medical literature are at odds.

Studies Involving the Relationship Between Cervical Manipulation and Stroke

In response to studies that downplay the causal relationship between cervical manipulation and stroke, medical researchers discovered that cases were misclassified which led to an underestimation of the strength of the association.

A published paper entitled Cervical Arterial Dissections and Association with Cervical Manipulative Therapy: a Statement for Healthcare Professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association concluded that the statistics confirm a relationship.

In their words, “…patients should be informed of the statistical association between arterial dissection and cervical manipulation prior to undergoing manipulation of the cervical spine.”

Another paper, Craniocervical Arterial Dissections as Sequelae of Chiropractic Manipulation: Patterns of Injury and Management, addressed findings in 13 patients who presented with neurological deficits, head and neck pain, or both, typically within hours or days of chiropractic manipulation.

Results of Stuides

Their conclusion was that cervical manipulation can produce vertebral arterial dissections. “These injuries can be severe, requiring endovascular stenting and cranial surgery. In this patient series, a significant percentage (31%, 4/13) of patients were left permanently disabled or died as a result of their arterial injuries.”

The strength of these medical findings has supported my clients’ cases and helped them move forward successfully. Recently, a jury entered a verdict for $1.4 million in favor of one of my clients.