What you didn’t know about Chiropractic Benefits & Risks


Chiropractic Benefits & Risks

You would like to try chiropractic but you are not sure if it is safe . . . you’ve seen many sites that call what we do quackery and unsafe, proclaiming that we cause strokes, have little to no education, etc.  ALL healthcare providers should inform patients about the risks of their care and alternatives before treatment.

There are many statistics and figures that lend to the safety of chiropractic.  For example, our malpractice insurance rates are very low and the risk of complications from chiropractic treatments is much lower than the risk of complications from drugs and surgery.

Chiropractors find an area of your spine that is not moving and move specifically that one area through a range of motion would be normal for it.  We do not move your spine into any range of motion that would hurt you or cause you soft tissue injury, but here are the risks of chiropractic care.

Risks of Chiropractic Care

  • Rib fractures
  • Muscle/ligament Strain/Sprain
  • Disc Injury
  • Vertebral Artery Injury, possibly leading to a stroke
  • Healed fractures/Anomalies of the spine

Risk of Rib fracture – As we age, our bones can become brittle, sometimes to the point of being called osteoporosis.  Your doctor of chiropractic will choose a technique that is correct for your body to minimize the risk of fracture.

Risk of Muscle/ligament Strain/Sprain – The risk of this is nearly nonexistent in some techniques.  The techniques where it is more likely are quite safe when executed by a licensed and trained doctor of chiropractic.  An injury like this happens when too much force is used and is generally the result of an adjustment delivered by “a friend/relative”.  Good news though, soft tissue heals quickly.

Chiropractic Risks Vs Benefits

Photo used under Creative Commons from Tsar Kasim

Risk of Vertebral Artery Injury & Strokes – A hot topic lately.  As mentioned above, a well delivered chiropractic adjustment will only move you through a range of motion that you should be able to achieve on your own.   Generally the statistics come down to the fact that you are no more likely to have a stroke from visiting a chiropractor than you are from visiting your primary care physician.  In addition, cases that have been reported as “Stroke following cervical manipulation” are often not delivered by a chiropractor, were delivered improperly, or can’t be directly correlated.  What I mean by that last bit is that the stroke could have been caused by many things the patient did that day, tip their head back to wash their hair, turn their head to back up the car, visit their chiropractor, or any other movement that had them turn and extend their head.  Here is a quote — “It has been estimated that it (stroke) is even less than that of “beauty parlor stroke syndrome” — a rare occurrence triggered when a customer leans her head back on a sink to get her hair washed.”

Healed Fractures/Anomalies of the Spine – Tell your doctor during the history about any healed fractures or surgeries you have had so that they can change their style of adjusting you and minimize any risk.  Your Doctor of Chiropractic should be more than happy to accommodate and explain any fears you might have about the risks of chiropractic.

Malpractice Insurance Rates – Chiropractic malpractice insurance is about $2000 for a year while Osteopaths may pay $20,000 or much more per year.  The primary distinction is the ability to prescribe drugs and perform surgery.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care

  • Pain Management
  • Increased Range of Motion
  • Faster, more complete injury recovery
  • Stress Relief
  • Improved function (walking 20 minutes instead of 5 without pain)
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased inflammatory mediators
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Better immune function through improved nerve communication
  • Increased Vitality
  • Preventative Care
  • Prenatal Care for Musculoskeletal complaints

This is a short list of some direct benefits that I commonly see in my office after giving chiropractic care.  Pregnant women are perhaps my favorite type of patient because they are very easy to adjust(modified techniques of course) and their complaints respond well to chiropractic.

Many times there are indirect benefits of chiropractic care that can range form improved indigestion, less painful periods, fewer allergies, constipation relief, nausea, and much more.  I believe that if you have a nervous system, you will likely benefit from chiropractic care.

Many offices offer other services besides only chiropractic adjustments that can meet a wide variety of needs.  The additional services are often a secondary and often lucrative source of income so tread lightly.  Often though, heading your doctors full advice will give you many benefits and few risks.  See our article on Chiropractic for Health to learn more.

Dr. Allen M Ruppert, DC
Florida, USA 

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