Is chiropractic treatment safe?
Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free 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 based on the clinical reports and scientific studies to date. In fact, not a single case of vertebral artery stroke or serious injury was found during a study at the National College of Chiropractic Clinic in Chicago which involved approximately five million cervical manipulations (“Complications Arising from Manipulation of the Cervical Spine,” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 1980; 3:213-219).
If you are visiting your doctor of chiropractic with upper-neck pain or headache, be very specific about your symptoms during your discussion. 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 non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) – as these treatments may carry risks significantly greater than those of chiropractic manipulation, especially when used incorrectly or not under the direction of your health care provider. 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.