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Chiropractic Care: A Dangerous Treatment for Neck and Back Pain?

In California and throughout the United States, chiropractic therapy is considered a form of alternative medicine that is used to treat back and neck pain, as well as a variety of other ailments, explains a California personal injury attorney. Chiropractors identify "subluxations," or partial misalignments of vertebrae in the back and neck area and believe that those subluxations can be corrected through a series of small adjustments known as cervical spinal manipulation. 


In laymen’s terms, people often describe what chiropractors do as "cracking the back," but, in fact, what chiropractors do is use tools and targeted controlled pressure to help improve not just the health of the back but the health of the body itself since the spine is the nerve center of the body.  Because there are no drugs used in the treatment, many believe that chiropractic is a relatively safe and risk-free method of treating medical problems ranging from back and neck pain to headaches or even chronic fatigue syndrome, or fibromyalgia. 


Unfortunately, a recent article in The Huffington Post discussed some significant potential risks associated with chiropractic care. According to the Huffington Post, a study performed at the Centre for Research and Rehabilitation at Brunel University revealed that there is a possibility that chiropractic adjustments may cause "serious neurovascular complications."  The Huffington Post reports that an article in the British Medical Journal also carried with it a similar warning. 


The warnings of chiropractic complications indicate that a potential link between neurovascular injury and cervical manipulation exists. According to the study results, adjustments to the neck may result in a tearing of the lining of the vertebral artery. This artery is located in the neck and it supplies blood to the brain.  Sudden twists or pressure to the neck that tear this artery could cause bleeding, which, in turn, can lead to blood clots and stroke. 

Assessing the Danger


Although there is some evidence suggesting that neck manipulation can cause damage to the vertebral artery and cause strokes or other neurovascular complications, experts suggest that the link between chiropractic care and artery damage has not necessarily been conclusively proven. The issue is that incidents of chiropractic stroke or other complications are rare, making it difficult to form a definitive conclusion by studying a link between these rare adverse events and chiropractic care. 


Another challenge to establishing a link between chiropractic care and neurovascular complications is that headaches and neck pain can be early signs that the vertebral artery has begun to tear. People may visit a chiropractor to treat headache or neck pain, and the tear may incorrectly be attributed to the chiropractor even when it had already begun before the treatment was obtained. 

The Huffington Post also indicates that while chiropractic stroke and other neurovascular problems may be linked, the risks of a stroke as a result of chiropractic care are low. 


Hopefully, additional studies on the link between chiropractic care and neurovascular complications will further elucidate for patients the full extent of the risks of such treatments. 


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