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There is a lot of misinformation out there concerning the safety of Chiropractic Care. What I believe the benchmark of how safe Chiropractic is would be the low cost of our malpractice insurance compared to that of other types of health care providers. Were Chiropractors being hit with any serious claims I don’t believe that would be the case. It is also my contention that the “Bad press” if you will, is put forth by the very people who are in direct financial completion with Chiropractors as opposed to any factual basis.

But don’t believe me, here are some excerpts from some of the studies:

1) In the May 1, 2012 issue of the Annuls of Internal Medicine from the American College of Physicians is a letter from researchers defending their work against criticism from medical doctors and other researchers who are not happy with the results of the original study. The original study, published in the same journal on January 3, 2012, showed that patients suffering from acute neck pain did better with chiropractic adjustments and showed a statistically significant advantage over medication after 8, 12, 26, and 52 week follow ups.

The authors of the original study responded in the journal by saying, “Our study was a pragmatic trial designed to assess the comparative effectiveness of three commonly used management options for neck pain. The design was chosen to represent as closely as possible what happens in the real-world clinical setting in which treatment is tailored to individual patients.”

Some of the letters criticizing the positive chiropractic study tried to question the safety of chiropractic, to which the authors responded, “We disagree with Mr. Chapman about the documented risk for significant adverse outcomes related to cervical spine manipulation. The best available evidence about the relationship between spinal manipulation and vertebral artery dissection comes from several large case–control studies. These studies show that, although there is an association between visits to chiropractors and the subsequent development of vertebral vascular stroke, this type of stroke is extremely rare. Of importance, the risk is no greater than if patients seek care from their family medical physicians, who are very unlikely to apply spinal manipulation.”

2) A study published in the scientific medical journal “Spine” in the October 2007 issue of the journal was titled, “Safety of Chiropractic Manipulation of the Cervical Spine: A Prospective National Survey”.

The authors admitted that the risk of any serious side effects to chiropractic care was relatively unknown to them and the medical community. The chiropractic profession has long noted that the malpractice rates for the chiropractic profession at large, a possible indicator for injury from care, were considerably lower than any other medical health care providers.

The results as quoted in the study were that, “There were no reports of serious adverse events.” Researchers did not find any serious adverse effects in any of the subjects they studied. They also noted that this is the first medical study of its kind by stating, “Safety of treatment interventions is best established with prospective surveys, and this study is unique in that it is the only prospective survey on such a large scale specifically estimating serious adverse events following cervical spine manipulation.”

Researchers noted the safety advantage between chiropractic care and drug care by saying, “The risk rates described in this study compare favorably to those linked to drugs routinely prescribed for musculoskeletal conditions in general practice.” They summed up their findings when they stated, “On this basis, this survey provides evidence that cervical spine manipulation is a relatively safe procedure when administered by registered U.K. chiropractors.”

3) Opponents of Chiropractic have attempted a smear campaign over the last several years by suggesting that chiropractic adjustments to the neck increased the risk of a certain type of stroke. This campaign was never based upon any scientific evidence, but rather on biased opinions. A new study to be published in the medical scientific journal “Spine” on February 15, 2008 puts those false accusations to rest and clearly shows that chiropractic does not increase the risks of these types of problems.

The story only received limited press coverage including a story in the January 19, 2008 issue of the Globe and Mail out of Canada. The scientific journal “Spine” is an international journal and recognized as one of the most prestigious publications on spinal health matters. In this study, published on February 15, 2008, researchers conducted one of the largest studies of this kind. They looked at 818 patients with a specific kind of stroke that some suggested might be the result of neck manipulations. The difference in this study was that the researchers checked the prevalence of visits to chiropractors and to medical doctors related to this problem.

Dr. Frank Silver, one of the researchers and a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and director of the University Health Network stroke program, noted that there was no incidence of increased stroke for a visit to the chiropractor than for a visit to the medical doctor. He explained the results, “We didn’t see any increased association between chiropractic care and usual family physician care, and the stroke.”

This scientific study shows that past assumptions attempting to relate chiropractic care with certain types of strokes were not due to the care, but rather to the fact that the people who went to chiropractors and medical doctors with certain types of problems were slightly more likely to suffer this type of problem anyway. Dr. Silver explained, “The association occurs because patients tend to seek care when they’re having neck pain or headache, and sometimes they go to a chiropractor, 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.”

The long and short of it, there are risks and rewards with virtually all health care avenues one might pursue. You need to be comfortable with your provider and the procedure you might be considering. Always feel free to ask questions about any procedure you might be considering and weigh the information provided to you at the time by your provider.