How Safe is Chiropractic?


Lots of studies have been documented not only in the aspect of effectiveness of chiropractic care as a treatment alternative but also with regards to its safety. In all these studies, one very clear common conclusion comes out: that chiropractic care is one of the safest options in all of the medical and complementary and alternative medicine fields.

The prejudicial tendencies among some practitioners in the medical community have caused controversial and unjustified views about chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy. Every now and then, reports that are not founded on statistical evidence come out about rumors of stroke occurrence following spinal manipulative therapy. These undocumented cases represent a frequency of from one case in every 0.4 million to a single case in 5.6 million.

Scientific Studies Highlighting Chiropractic Safety

In the issue of the International Journal of Clinical Practice in September 2013, which also appeared online at the website by researcher P. Tuchin,, a literature review examined 18 studies and discussed any effect spinal manipulative therapy may have on stroke. This review found that for sixty percent of the strokes, abnormal lipids amount was present in the blood. Lipids include fats and cholesterol. It also pointed out that hypertension, obesity, smoking, cardiovascular disease, types 1 and 2 diabetes, migraines, atrial fibrillation, heavy drinking, infections, sleep apnea, contraceptives, illegal drug use and other factors put an individual at a high risk for stroke. Chiropractic adjustments are not listed among the major factors in stroke in the scientific literature.

A study that was published in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, found 13 documented cases of cardiovascular accidents that occurred over a period of five years, where a total of about 50 million cervical adjustments were performed. The conclusion from this study is that there was a low reasonable estimate of the risk – only one per 3 million neck adjustments.

In the book titled “Upper Cervical Syndrome: Chiropractic Diagnosis and Treatment,” a review of over half-million treatments performed over a period of nine years at the outpatient clinic of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College found zero incident of vertebral artery syndrome or stroke.

In a study at Chicago’s National College of Chiropractic Clinic involving approximately 5 million treatments using cervical manipulations from the year 1965 to 1980, not a single vertebral artery stroke case was found.

The New Zealand government conducted an inquiry into the safety of chiropractic care. As a result of this inquiry, it published in a report in 1979 that chiropractic care is indeed remarkably safe.

A research study on low back pain reported in the British Medical Journal in January 1999 concluded that chiropractic is among the safest forms of therapy available.

Chiropractic care is much safer than having back surgery or even taking strong drugs like muscle relaxants. Since it is non-invasive, the body responds to it more predictably than to drugs or surgical procedures.

Chiropractic Vs. Allopathic Medicine Safety

Let’s take a look at some data on the risk involved with the use of medications and surgery. In the United States alone, there are approximately 140,000 deaths each year resulting from drug-related reactions. There are 400 times greater risk of death from gastrointestinal complications than from complications arising from cervical manipulations. Also, the death rate for patients who undergo surgery of the cervical spine is an astoundingly than that for cervical manipulation – 7,000 times!

Notwithstanding the safety of the methods used in chiropractic practice, chiropractors have a constant concern to evaluate any adverse reaction their patients may have for the chiropractic treatment.

Chiropractic is recognized by the medical and scientific communities, non-profit research institutions, universities and governments as a successfully proven primary therapy for conditions of the neuromusculoskeletal system and a therapy safer than most available medical procedures to treat those same conditions. The risks it presents compared to conventional allopathic medicine, which relies on drugs and surgery primarily as an integral means of treatment, are far less.

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