Chiropractic and Stroke- by The Evidence Based Chiropractor

Every few years it seems as though chiropractic and stroke is a hot button issue.  Just this week the American Heart Association released a paper which provoked the currently unfounded theory that chiropractic cervical manipulation may be directly associated with an increased risk of stroke.  Dr. McCoy, from McCoy Press, released a very eloquent press release which in part states that zero causation has ever been established between chiropractic cervical manipulation and stroke.  Additionally, of all the research which has ever been done regarding association; the results are inconclusive at best.  

Per an article on WebMD, "Neck manipulation is associated with about one death per 1 million people due to cervical artery dissection, he (Dr. Overland) said.

By comparison, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) cause 153 stroke deaths per 1 million people, narcotic medications cause 53 stroke deaths per 1 million people, and spinal surgery of the neck causes 500 stroke deaths per 1 million people, Overland said."

I fully support continued research to evaluate potential risks and benefits associated with chiropractic care.  A thorough evaluation of all risks should be paramount.  However, statements and articles like the one published by the American Heart Association simply provoke myth, conjecture, and fear.  By current research standards you are 153 times more likely to suffer a stroke by taking NSAID's, and 500 times more likely to suffer a stroke after spinal surgery than from a manipulation.  While, unfortunately, there is no direct screening procedure to determine the potential of a stroke-like event occurring, a thorough case history and examination is imperative to identify any patients who may have risk factors. 


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