Jury Awards Plaintiff $577,000 in Cervical Manipulation Case

We already know that there’s a direct relationship between cervical manipulation, arterial dissection, and stroke. Through medical studies, doctors have established the connection and encourage chiropractors to warn their patients of the risks involved.

Who is at Risk?

Patients with risk factors for stroke aren’t the only ones who might experience an arterial dissection. Studies show that even young, healthy individuals with no preexisting risk factors such as hypertension and high blood pressure are vulnerable to a stroke caused by cervical manipulation. As a matter of fact, arterial dissection has become increasingly recognized as a cause of stroke in people under 45 years of age.

A Recent Case

In 2013, after a 5-day trial, an Alabama jury awarded a plaintiff $577,000 after he suffered a stroke following a cervical manipulation. The 42-year-old accountant began to experience stroke symptoms (vomiting and slurred speech) immediately after his fourth neck adjustment with a chiropractor.

He was in the hospital for 11 days and was diagnosed with arterial dissection on the left side of his neck. He later filed a lawsuit against the chiropractor, claiming that the neck adjustment caused the stroke. The defendant argued that the accountant already had an arterial dissection in progress, which is a common defense in these cases. A chiropractor being sued for malpractice may claim that a patient who seeks treatment for neck pain could have experienced that pain as a result of an arterial dissection, as patients with this disorder may have symptoms that mimic musculoskeletal conditions.

The Responsibility of Chiropractors

This begs the question: Should patients experiencing neck pain and other possible stroke symptoms seek a medical diagnosis before seeing a chiropractor? The answer is yes. Because chiropractors can’t diagnose an arterial dissection, a visit to the doctor is in order.

And there’s another question: Should chiropractors warn patients of the risks involved in cervical manipulation? Definitely. Even patients with lower back pain frequently receive cervical manipulations as part of their treatment, and they should be aware that the manipulation comes with a risk of stroke.

In the accountant’s case, the jury sided with the plaintiff, determining that the cervical manipulation had caused the arterial dissection and subsequent stroke.

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