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Posted on 10-23-2016

Chiropractic and Stroke - Neck Spinal Manipulation is Safe

As a Baltimore Chiropractor that spends the majority of my time treating patients with headaches, neck pain and back pain, I often get asked questions about neck spinal manipulation. Patients, even those with neck pain, are sometimes afraid of undergoing any neck spinal manipulation fearing for their health and safety. I understand their concerns and to those who would be candidates for cervical spine (neck) manipulation I usually discuss a few points. In light of the recent report of the death of Katie May, model and snapchat star who died last February after having visited a Chiropractor following a fall while on a photo shoot, I thought it may be appropriate to discuss the safety of neck spinal manipulation. There are a few things to consider here.

First, Chiropractic is safe. While it is true that there can be negative outcomes from spinal manipulation including with neck spinal manipulation (typically joint sprain and soreness), there is no evidence that chiropractic adjustments (neck spinal manipulation) can cause stroke. As it turns out, the largest and best quality study performed to date looked at the medical records of all 11 million peope in the Canadian Province of Ontario over a 9 year period, and found that patients who went to a chiropractor for neck problems were no more likely to have stroke following their neck treatment than patients who went to their primary care physicians. As far as my practice is concerned, I have been a licensed Chiropractor for almost 8 years. In that time I have performed well over 10,000 neck adjustments without a single serious complication that I am aware of. I also perform neck adjustments on my friends, family and loved ones without any undue concern for risk. In fact, when my neck is stiff and sore I usually have a colleague evaluate and adjust my neck.

Secondly, Chiropractic care is effective. A chiropractic approach to neck pain and other spinal pain is at least as effective as any other treatment. For patients with many types of neck pain and headache there is at least as much scientific evidence showing that chiropractic treatment is effective as there is for any other medical or surgical treatment, including the use of NSAIDs and opiod drugs. In face, in several head-to-head studies, common chiropractic treatments for neck pain  (such as manipulation, mobilization, and exercises) have been shown to be as effective or more effective than pharmaceutical treatments. Further, no large study has ever found manual treatment for neck pain to be less effective or more risky than pharmaceutical treatment.

Finally, Chiropractors are well trained professionals. We are well educated and well trained to identify risk factors to determine who may not be a good candidate for neck manipulation treatment. The safety of our patients is, of course, our paramount concern when determining if cervical spine manipulation is appropriate.

While it is truly sad and unfortunate that Katie Mae lost her life, it is important to understand what a rare circumstance her outcome truly is. Despite this terrible circumstance, millions of people across the country continue to rely on Chiropractors such as myself and my team to provide them with neck pain relief every year.

If you, or someone you know has questions about cervical spine manipulation and are curious if chiropractic care is appropriate for you, please contact Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic for a consultation. We would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Dr. Gulitz

(the previous was reproduced with permission of Dr. William Lauretti D.C.)

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