Can neck adjustments cause a stroke?

This topic is brought up in the media over and over again. People have been scared by anti-chiropractic groups saying a neck adjustment can cause a stroke. A RAND study puts risk of Chiropractic Adjustment adverse reaction including but limited to neck adjustments causing a stroke at 6.39 per 10 million adjustments.  The Rand study included other adverse reactions such as paralysis in this study which is also very rare.  Odds of getting struck by lightening are 1 in 500,000. The RAND study conclusion for Chiropractic adverse reactions is similar to odds of getting a stroke at the hair salon during a shampoo. Cases have been reported of strokes during shampooing in the salon when people have their head tilted back. Although very uncommon an artery in the upper neck has a section where a very rare blood vessel defect can occur causing an aneurysm. When an artery loses its structural integrity due to a defect within the arterial wall resulting in a ballooning of the artery.  This area of ballooning is obviously very weak and can burst.  It is more common to see aneurisms in the brain and the main artery called the aorta in the chest or abdomen.  Just like in the rest of the body an aneurism has no symptoms until they are about to burst.  Some people experience no symptoms before the artery bursts but in the case of the brain, people may have a headache as a precursor to a stroke just as with aortic aneurisms people may experience middle or low back pain before a stroke.  In the case of the upper neck aneurism it is common to experience neck pain and a headache at the base of the skull.  It is believed the patient shows up to the doctor when more than likely anything even turning their head fast, getting a massage, chiropractic adjustment, or time will reveal the impending stroke.

Can the chiropractor break my back?

Spinal Manipulations performed by a trained professional are very safe.  During a spinal manipulation the Physician will put the spine in different positions to quickly open spinal joints to free up the motion of restricted segments.  The thrust used to open the joints is very small allowing just a small opening of the joint causing the audible pop.  Any reported cases of fractures which are very rare mainly are related to underlying diseases of the bone such as cancer or osteoporosis.  This is why a detailed exam is always performed to screen out these risk factors.  In the case of osteoporosis your Chiropractor may use alternative techniques with less force such as Activator Methods or mobilization techniques.