According to the American Chiropractic Association in Arlington, Virginia, Americans visit chiropractors at least 250 million times each year. Chiropractic health care, a mode of alternative medicine, works on the theory that misaligned vertebrae put pressure on nerves along the spine. This pressure interrupts nerve signals to the body, which causes a variety of ailments. Manipulation of the spine is thought to relieve these ailments; however, chiropractic treatment has a number of downsides, including soreness, potential to damage bones and a connection to causing strokes.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
A common patient complaint after chiropractic treatment is soreness as the body attempts to adjust to changes caused by the chiropractic intervention. Aftereffects can include temporary headaches, tiredness or discomfort in treated areas.
Pain and irritation from chiropractic treatment should decrease within weeks of treatment. Seek consultation from a physician if symptoms persist.
- A common patient complaint after chiropractic treatment is soreness as the body attempts to adjust to changes caused by the chiropractic intervention.
Chiropractic Neck Adjustment Risks
The potential for bone fractures, as well as nerve damage, exists with use of chiropractic care. Patients with bone infections, bone cancer, prior vertebral fractures, osteoarthritis or osteoporosis should consult a physician before engaging in spinal manipulation therapy to discuss the risks.
Chiropractic care for children should be avoided in most cases. Physicians cite concerns about damage to growing bones from heavy-handed spinal manipulation, and most do not recommend chiropractic care for infants and younger people 2.
- The potential for bone fractures, as well as nerve damage, exists with use of chiropractic care.
Neck adjustments have the potential to cause strokes 1. Although the risk of stroke caused by chiropractic adjustment isn't high, some physicians urge their patients to consider the danger before submitting to chiropractic care. A 2003 study connected stroke patients where the condition was caused by torn arteries to recently chiropractic care, indicating a causal effect. For unknown reasons, younger women display a higher risk of stroke from chiropractic adjustments.
- Neck adjustments have the potential to cause strokes 1.
- For unknown reasons, younger women display a higher risk of stroke from chiropractic adjustments.
Chiropractic Neck Adjustment Risks
Is Chiropractic Manipulation OK Post Spinal Fusion?
Cervical Traction Contraindications
Health Risks of Body Inverters
Symptoms of Thoracic Spine Problems
What Causes Numbness in Fingers and Feet?
What Are the Treatments for an Avulsion Fracture?
What Are the Treatments for a Vertebral Hemangioma?
What Are the Causes of Pain, Numbness & Tingling in the Left Arm?
Fish Oil & Migraines
- Self.com: The dangers of neck adjustments
- Aetna Intelihealth: Chiropractic, Spinal Manipulative Therapy, Spinal Manipulation
- CNN.com: Experts urge cautious approach with chiropractors treating colic
- Branney J, Breen AC. Does inter-vertebral range of motion increase after spinal manipulation? A prospective cohort study. Chiropr Man Therap. 2014;22:24. doi:10.1186/s12998-014-0024-9
- Haas M, Spegman A, Peterson D, Aickin M, Vavrek D. Dose response and efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic cervicogenic headache: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Spine J. 2010;10(2):117-28. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2009.09.002
- Digiorgi D. Spinal manipulation under anesthesia: a narrative review of the literature and commentary. Chiropr Man Therap. 2013;21(1):14. doi:10.1186/2045-709X-21-14
- American Chiropractic Association. American Board of Chiropractic Specialties (ABCS).
- Margach RW. Chiropractic functional neurology: An introduction. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2017;16(2):44-45.
- Bryans R, Descarreaux M, Duranleau M, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2011; 34: 274-89. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.04.008
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Use of yoga, meditation, and chiropractors among U.S. adults aged 18 and over.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Chiropractic: in depth. Updated April 2019.
- National Health Statistics Report. Trends in the use of complementary health approaches among adults: United States, 2002–2012. Updated February 10, 2015.
- University of Minnesota. Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. How can I find a qualified chiropractor?
Nicki Wolf has been writing health and human interest articles since 1986. Her work has been published at various cooking and nutrition websites. Wolf has an extensive background in medical/nutrition writing and online content development in the nonprofit arena. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Temple University.