Posted by EditorsChoice
Sunday, 30 September 2007
We’ve all heard stories about someone who was crippled or even killed by a Chiropractor. Sometimes we’re even warned by our family doctor not to let our Chiropractor adjust us as it may cause a stroke. Even the L.A. Times recently called the safety of manipulation into question. Just how safe is chiropractic treatment? What are the facts?
1. Due to the extreme rarity of injuries caused by Chiropractic treatment and its unequaled safety record, chiropractic doctors pay only a fraction (i.e. 1/10 to 1/50) the malpractice rates compared to medical physicians. (1)
2. Only 19 deaths have been attributed to Chiropractic treatment worldwide over the latest 65 years studied (1934-1999). In fact, the risk of “serious injury” from anti-inflammatory medication including Aspirin and Advil is 400 times greater than from manipulation. (2)
In other words, it’s much safer to have a chiropractic treatment for your neck pain or headache then taking medicine (over the counter or prescribed).
3. Nearly 10,000 studies have been performed on manipulation (making it the most thoroughly studied form of treatment for back pain) and the great majority have found the following when compared to medical treatment:
a. Increased patient satisfaction.
b. Shortened time to return to activities or work.
c. Less permanent disability.
d. Less costly.
The governments of several countries, including the United States (A.H.C.P.R.) and Canada (Manga), have found manipulation to be the most effective form of treatment for back pain. In fact, the Canadian report suggested that Chiropractors be the “gate keepers” for back pain saying that it would save Canada hundreds of millions of dollars if their citizens saw Chiropractor’s first. After reviewing all published studies, it was determined that there were “no medical procedures that were as safe as Chiropractic treatment.”
The British Medical Journal and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found similar results. In fact, the U.S. government reported that physical therapy and acupuncture were not “cost effective” and that surgery was useful in only 1% of cases.
Further, the report was emphatic that they should be employed only after conservative approaches (like manipulation) were first exhausted.
So why are there still news reports of the dangers of Chiropractic? Lets take a look at the last article that was reported by the journal, “Neurology”, and reported in the L.A. Times.
The study found that seven out of the 51 people questioned who had a stroke were adjusted by a Chiropractor in the previous month. This compared to two of those in the control group. So an association was drawn between manipulation and strokes. The problem with making such an opinion is that headaches and neck pain are the early symptoms of this type of stroke. So of course more people with neck pain and headaches sought chiropractic care versus those who were in the control group who were pain free.
This illustrates the problem with association-type studies. They don’t show the cause only association. For example, the following is a common example taught in research courses that warn against making conclusions from such studies.
Since there are more churches in violent neighborhoods, churches lead to violence. Actually, establishing churches are a reaction to people living in a violent neighborhood, not a cause.
In fact, another study published by the same journal, “Neurology,” found fewer people having strokes if they were adjusted than the control group that wasn’t. Unfortunately, that never made the newspapers nor did most of the other studies which showed chiropractic treatment far safer than all other medical treatments.
Why the media prints inflammatory stories while ignoring others that would put your mind at ease is beyond the scope of this paper. But it is unfortunate that people are being scared away from a treatment that is absolutely safer and more effective and by default being directed to one that has significantly greater risks.
Personally, between Dr. Murray and myself, we have practiced about 40 years and have never injured anyone (more than some temporary soreness as part of the treatment). The real danger comes from having musculoskeletal problems that are covered-up with drugs and surgery. Since the cause is not addressed this way, the patients often get worse, more discouraged and depressed and there are often side effects.
We use only the safest of all procedures and specifically screen for all risk factors that make manipulation unsafe. I’m sure you have already noted how thorough we are. This is the only way that you should be treated by any of your doctors. If you ever have questions about the risks or benefits of any procedure, always feel free to speak to us directly.
(1) Malpractice Statistics from the National Chiropractic Mutual Insurance Company, West Des Moines, Iowa.
(2) Terrett, A, Current Concepts in Vertebrobasilar Complications, NCMIC Group, Inc., 2001, p 199.
About the Author:
Dr. Rick Morris is the founder of the The Morris Spinal Stenosis and Disc Center in Santa Monica, Ca. You can read more of his health articles or contact him at his website and find out about his non-surgical treatment of low back pain disorders