Is Chiropractic safe?


Manipulation when carried out by a properly qualified practitioner is considered to be very safe, as most reactions to chiropractic treatment are physiological in nature and the complication rate of manipulation is low.

The most common reactions following chiropractic treatment, which affect 50% of patients, include discomfort in the area treated, headaches, fatigue, and pain radiating from the area treated. These reactions are those to be expected and are mainly physiological in nature (Barrett AJ et al. 2000, Senstad O et al. 1997, Leboeuf-Yde et al. 1997).


The most serious complications of chiropractic treatment that have been reported are cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) after manipulation of the neck, and cauda equina syndrome (CES) after manipulation of the lumbar spine. Following manipulation, CVA is estimated to occur in 5 to 10 per 10 million manipulations with half having a fatal outcome, while CES is estimated to occur in 1 per 100 million manipulations (Hurwitz EL et al. 1996, Shekelle P 1994). Compared to other treatment used for similar conditions, these rates are 200 times lower than the death rates reported for gastrointestinal bleeding due to the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and as much as 800 times lower than the overall mortality rate for surgery on the lumbar spine (Gabriel SE et al. 1991, Dabbs V et al. 1995, Deyo RA et al. 1992, Malter AD et al. 1998).




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