Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal complaints. This is why chiropractors pay some of the lowest malpractice insurances of any provider, because the risks associated with chiropractic, are so small. Many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic treatment, but some may experience mild soreness or aching, just as they do after starting a new type 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 high-velocity neck manipulations with a certain kind of stroke, or vertebral artery dissection, recent evidence shows that this type of arterial injury is not due to the treatment administered but is a disorder that is already in progress following everyday activities such as turning the head while driving, swimming, or holding one’s head and neck in an unnatural position for too long. Patients that develop an arterial condition of this nature may experience neck pain and intense headaches, thus leading them to seek professional care—often at the office of a doctor of chiropractic or family physician—but the care administered at those providers office is not the cause of the injury. That is why the occurrence of stroke following a chiropractic visit is at the same rate in patients that visit their medical doctor, musculoskeletal therapist, massage therapist, etc. The goal is to see a provider that can accurately identify the red flags associated with this issue, take the right steps to protect the patient, and immediately call 911. In an effort to dispel this negative correlation between strokes and chiropractic treatment, the Chiropractic Universities require extensive training on how to spot these issues ahead of time and take the right steps to help save the patient.
The best evidence indicates that the incidence of artery injuries following a visit to a health care provider is approximately 1 in 5.85 million office visits.
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.