“Neck manipulation may be associated with stroke,” so read the news release on August 7, 2014 from the American Heart Association. Here we go again another blatant attack on the chiropractic profession that is not based on facts or statistics. In a great response written by Michael Noonan, DC in the Bangor Daily News on August 16, 2014, he releases his own “scientific statement”: If you suffer from neck pain and/or headache, call a doctor of chiropractic first. We are trained to evaluate patients for VBA stroke and other serious conditions. The treatments we provide are not only very effective, they are literally thousands of times safer than the drugs prescribed by medical providers.
Dr. Noonan describes the rare type of stroke that involves the vertebra-basilar arteries, or VBA, which course along the back of the neck to the brain. If the arteries get damaged they can cause an interference to the blood supply to the brain, eventually leading to a stroke. This type of stroke typically takes time, from a few weeks to more. What typically happens is the person begins to complain of neck pain and headaches, and seeks the service of a chiropractor or medical doctor. This is before the blood supply to the brain is even affected.
A large study done in Ontario, looking to see if chiropractic care was the cause of VBA strokes concluded the manipulation blamed by the medical associations for causing these strokes, seems not to be a factor. As a matter of fact only 4 percent of the people who had a stroke had visited a chiropractor in the previous month compared to 51 percent who had had a stroke who visited a medical doctor in that same time period. The bottom line is that the patients called the doctor's offices because they were having neck pain or headaches caused by the arterial damage.
Statistically speaking the risk of problems from chiropractic treatment for neck pain is drastically less than the complications and risks associated with the medications (NSAIDs and opioids) that are prescribed for this condition by the medical community.
As a matter of fact as most chiropractors find out that their patients able to greatly reduce or eliminate the use of these drugs after a course of chiropractic care.