Safety of Chiropractic Care

Some people are worried about the safety of Chiropractic Care and in this video we look at the research literature on this topic to see what the science actually says.

A transcript of the video follows.


Safety of Chiropractic Care Video Transcript

Some people are worried about seeing a chiropractor because they think that chiropractic adjustments might be harmful or dangerous. So let’s look at the research literature on this topic to see what the science actually says.

When we look at the literature relating to chiropractic care, we can see that it’s remarkably safe and it’s effective and it’s associated with high levels of patient satisfaction.

A number of studies have reported that chiropractic care is at least as effective as if not more effective than traditional medical management for patients with a variety of spine related issues. Chiropractic care actually has an enviable safety record compared to most other healthcare interventions.

However, virtually all forms of healthcare are associated with some risk. So let’s look closer at this.

With the sort of manual or hands-on procedures that chiropractors used in everyday practice, it’s logical that there is at least some risk that on rare occasions some people may suffer from an adverse event after seeing their chiropractor. A number of researchers have reviewed all of the published literature relating to the safety of chiropractic care. According to these reviews, serious adverse events are very rare, and most of the time the scientists weren’t sure if the chiropractic care actually caused the event or not.

Because serious adverse events are so few following chiropractic care, it’s virtually impossible for researchers to accurately estimate how often they actually occur. So there are only rough estimates for serious adverse events, and these estimates range from one in 20,000 to one in several million chiropractic visits.

To compare this with other types of medical care, we know, for example, that as many as one in three adverse events can occur if someone goes to hospital.

What is more common with chiropractic care is that some people can feel a bit stiff and sore after they’ve been adjusted. But this usually goes away by itself.

So according to the best systematic reviews of all the scientific literature on this topic, we know that being seriously hurt from seeing your chiropractor is extremely rare. In fact, the statistics tell us that you are about 10 times more likely to be seriously injured driving to and from your chiropractor’s office than you are from being seriously injured while seeing your chiropractor.

Despite all of these studies showing how rare adverse events are with chiropractic care, there are still some people who are worried a chiropractic adjustment could cause a stroke. This has also been studied very carefully. In two separate studies, researchers looked at extremely large patient databases from insurance plans in Canada and America and compared over 2,600 patients who had actually suffered from a stroke involving the arteries in their neck, and they compared them to people who hadn’t had a stroke. They looked to see whether the people who had suffered a stroke were more likely to have seen a chiropractor or a medical doctor before suffering from the stroke.

What they found was that people who had suffered from one of these strokes were no more likely to have seen a chiropractor than a medical doctor before the stroke occurred. In some groups, they were actually more likely to have visited a medical doctor than a chiropractor before the stroke. So what does this mean?

The study suggests that patients who are suffering from a stroke after seeing a chiropractor are probably going to see the chiropractor because they had neck pain or headaches that had been caused by the early stages of the blood vessel damage that ultimately caused the stroke. So they were having a stroke in progress before they went to see the chiropractor.

It also means that there is no greater risk of suffering from a stroke if you choose to visit a chiropractor compared to the risks of visiting a medical doctor.

So if you or someone you know is worried about seeing a chiropractor, you can rest assured that chiropractic care is associated with very low risk of causing serious harm.

The risks are so rare that they cannot be accurately estimated. And of the risk estimates that have been made, most suggest that serious adverse events associated with chiropractic care happens perhaps every several hundred thousand visits. Like any healthcare intervention, some adverse events do of course occur with chiropractic care, and these adverse events are generally minor and go away by themselves and don’t take away from the high levels of patient satisfaction associated with chiropractic care.

So despite what some people think, chiropractic has an enviable safety record, and you can rest assured that if you go see your chiropractor, you are in safe hands.


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