Frequently Asked Questions
Is chiropractic safe?
In recent years, the field of chiropractic has received considerable attention regarding treatment safety. However, since the mid 1970s there have been advances in research recognizing chiropractic as a safe and effective form of treatment. In fact, today the profession has a well-established safety record and its malpractice insurance rate is among the lowest of all fields of health care. But like any form of treatment, all risks – however slight – should not be ignored.
While the methods used by chiropractors have proven to be safe in almost all cases, certain conditions may put patients at risk. To reduce the possibility of complications, chiropractors will evaluate their patients to determine if treatment will cause an adverse reaction. A particular concern is vertebral arter3 syndrome (VAS), a condition that occurs when sudden head movements disrupt the blood flow in the vertebral artery, possibly leading to a stroke. However, it should be noted that the risk of complications is extremely remote; according to the 1996 RAND report, only one out of every million patients experiences VAS. The risk of VAS can be diminished significantly with a proper examination before manipulation.
Even for patients with aneurysms, tumors, bone infections or any other condition that increases the chance of complications, treatment is not completely off-limits. Often times, chiropractors will modify treatment to better suit the patient and further reduce the possibility of harm.
Research shows that chiropractic treatment has proven to be safer than many medical procedures. Consider, for example, a mortality rate of 6,900 per one million for patients undergoing cervical spine surgery, whereas for cervical manipulation by a chiropractor the rate is a mere 0.3 per million. Likewise even the most conservative medical treatments, such as over-the-counter pain relievers, can carry significantly greater risks than chiropractic care. Studies show that 1,000 out of every one million patients taking pain relievers like Aspirin experience serious gastrointestinal disorders. In preventing complications caused by spinal manipulation, there is no better ally than a skilled chiropractor with sound knowledge of the patient’s condition. Under the care of a properly trained chiropractor, spinal manipulation is a safe and effective form of treatment for a variety of aliments.