An article on MSNBC implies that they are. The article describes events in the life of Christa Heck, a 43 year old mother and full time pharmaceutical representative. Heck went to see a chiropractor in 2003 for headaches. The chiropractor adjusted her back and neck. Later that day her head was still hurting and when she turned her head to the left, the room spun and she felt nauseous. Heck returned to the chiropractor and advised him of her strange symptoms. The chiropractor adjusted her neck again to try to get rid of the headache. On the way home that day, Heck suffered a major stroke in her car. Her medical doctor told her that she was lucky to be alive. He was “convinced that the stroke was caused by Heck’s neck adjustment which tore a critical artery that keeps blood flowing to the brain.”

Americans visit the chiropractor about 250 million times each year and 105 million of those visits include neck manipulations. The theory behind chiropractic is that when your vertebrae become misaligned there is extra pressure on nerves and the body cannot function as efficiently as it should. So, by improving the misalignment, they are improving your overall health. Neck adjustments are a regular part of chiropractic adjustments.

Injuries that can occur on the chiropractor’s table are soft tissue damage, joint dislocations, bone fractures in the neck and back, and the most common – disk injury in the neck or lower back. However, only neck manipulations can cause the major side effect that changed Christa Heck’s life.
The vertigo and queasiness after Heck’s first appointment should have been red flags, as both are symptoms of a stroke. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) spokesperson, Willam J. Lauretti, is quoted, “A good chiropractor doesn’t merely grab people’s necks and crack them. You take a thorough exam. If there is a history of dizziness, stroke, visual or auditory disturbances, and to a certain extent a history of migraine, I’m going to be much more cautious. “

Brad Stewart, a neurologist from Edmonton, Alberta, stated, “the expectation of benefit is almost negligible. The risk, though small, is very real…You can’t predict who this will happen to, and for that reason alone, it just shouldn’t be done.”

There are arguments for both sides, of course. However, this is just another example of why you should do your own research and be in charge of your own healthcare. Know the possible risks of treatment before you go and be on the lookout for symptoms of those risks after your treatment starts. If you have any questions, speak to a medical professional. As the popular saying goes…Better Safe Than Sorry!

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