In the past few years the news media has periodically questioned the safety of neck adjustments that are given by a Doctor of Chiropractic. This article will help you understand the safety of neck adjustments as well as my personal recommendations for effective neck care.

Opponents of chiropractic have attempted to smear chiropractic by suggesting that spinal adjustments to the neck increase the risk of a certain type of stroke. This campaign was never based upon any scientific evidence, but rather on biased opinions. A recent study (February 15, 2008) published in the international medical journal, “Spine,” puts those false accusations to rest and clearly shows that chiropractic does not increase the risks of stroke or cervical spine injury.

In this recent study, researchers looked at over 800 patients with a specific kind of stroke that some suggested might be the result of neck manipulation. Frank Silver, M.D., one of the researchers, a professor of medicine and stroke specialist at the University of Toronto, noted that there was no incidence of increased stroke for a visit to a chiropractor than for a visit with the medical doctor. Dr. Silver explained that “the association occurs because patients tend to seek care when they are having neck pain or headache, and sometimes they go to a chiropractor, and sometimes they go to a physician. But we didn’t see an increased likelihood of them having this type of stroke after seeing a chiropractor.”

It is not unusual for a member of the senior population to experience a TIA (transient ischemic attack) or a mini-stroke. The most common condition associated with the likelihood of a stroke is high blood pressure. A mini-stroke or TIA will often manifest with these symptoms: weakness or numbness, garbled or slurred speech, headache, and dizziness or a loss of balance. If you suspect a mini-stroke the most effective treatment is to immediately get to urgent care or the emergency room.

These are the simple facts about strokes and chiropractic:

Cervical spine adjustments that are given by a qualified chiropractor are very safe. Many chiropractors now utilize very safe, gentle and effective spinal adjusting instruments (Activator and Impulse), rather than aggressive manipulation, for the treatment of neck pain. Most patients prefer this type adjustment because it doesn’t hurt. An excellent chiropractor will always consider the safety of any procedure that is being recommended for your personal care.

My advice:

For those of you that are experiencing neck pain or headaches; consult with a chiropractor that does a complete analysis of your spine, including x-rays, before any treatment is rendered. As I tell my patients, “To see is to know and not to see is to guess.” You don’t want anyone… medical doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor, to recommend or give treatment to your neck until you have received an accurate diagnosis regarding the cause of your condition.

(Dr. Craig W. Brue is an author, lecturer and chiropractic provider in SaddleBrooke, AZ.)