Is chiropractic treatment safe?

Is chiropractic treatment safe?

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Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal complaints. Although chiropractic has an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects.

The risks associated with chiropractic, however, are very small. Many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic treatment, but some may experience mild soreness or aching just as they do after some forms of exercise. Current literature shows that minor discomfort or soreness following spinal manipulation typically fades within 24 hours.

Neck pain and some types of headaches are treated through precise cervical manipulation. Cervical manipulation, often called a neck adjustment, works to improve joint mobility in the neck, restoring range of motion and reducing muscle spasm, which helps relieve pressure and tension.

Neck manipulation is a remarkably safe procedure. While some reports have associated upper high-velocity neck manipulation with a certain kind of stroke, or vertebral artery dissection, there is not yet a clear understanding of the connection. The occurrence appears to be very rare —1 in 5.85 million manipulations — based on the clinical reports and scientific studies to date. If you are visiting your doctor of chiropractic with upper-neck pain or headache, be very specific about your symptoms. This will help your doctor of chiropractic offer the safest and most effective treatment, even if it involves referral to another health care provider.

It is important for patients to understand the risks associated with some of the most common treatments for musculoskeletal pain — prescription and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) — as these treatments may carry risks significantly greater than those of chiropractic manipulation. According to a study from the American Journal of Gastroenterology, approximately one-third of all hospitalizations and deaths related to gastrointestinal bleeding can be attributed to the use of aspirin or NSAID painkillers like ibuprofen.

Here are more links regarding the safety of chiropractic:

Scott Haldeman, MD, DC reviewed malpractice claims records for a 10-year period between 1988 and 1997. In reviewing the outcomes following the application of 134.5 million cervical manipulations (commonly referred to as the chiropractic adjustment), the records indicated that there were 23 reported cases of stroke or vertebral artery dissection (VAD). [ 10 ] Of this group, 10 of the patients had the complicating factors of high blood pressure, use of oral contraceptives, or a history of smoking, all of which are associated with vascular disease. The actual incidence of stroke or VAD following cervical manipulation was found to be one per 5.85 million cervical adjustments. That means that the average chiropractor could work for 1430 years (or practice 48 full chiropractic careers!) before they might be involved with this type of litigation.

Arterial Dissections Following Cervical Manipulation: The Chiropractic Experience
Canadian Medical Association Journal 2001 ( Oct 2); 165 (7): 905–906

Guidelines for Chiropractic Quality Assurance and Practice Parameters Preceedings of the Mercy Center Consensus Conference; Page 171, Aspen Publications 1993

A Risk Assessment of Cervical Manipulation vs. NSAIDs for the Treatment of Neck Pain
J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1995 (Oct); 18 (8): 530–536

The Manga Report

The Ontario Ministry of Health commissioned Manga Report represents the largest analysis of scientific literature on the most effective and cost effective treatments for low back pain. After reviewing all of the international evidence on the management of low back pain, lead investigator Pran Manga, Ph.D., found the treatments provided by Doctors of Chiropractic were exceptionally safe – much safer than for standard medical treatments of similar conditions.

The Effectiveness and Cost Effectiveness of Chiropractic Management of Low-Back Pain (The Manga Report). Pran Manga and Associates (1993) – University of Ottawa, Canada.

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