Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Stroke Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Stroke Risks From Spinal Manipulation Unknown

By
WebMD Health News

May 22, 2000 -- Could going to the chiropractor for a spinal adjustment increase your risk for a stroke? The chiropractic industry has been under fire over the past few years due to an untold number of strokes -- and in some cases deaths -- blamed on spinal manipulation. One specific procedure performed by chiropractors, known as extension rotation and torque, is under attack.

In one case, a 20-year-old Canadian named Laurie Jean Mathiason died in 1998 after she received a spinal manipulation, from a chiropractor, for treatment for an injury she received after falling down stairs. She complained of sudden neck pain after her last treatment, passed out, and then died within a few days, without regaining consciousness.

Critics say this incident is only one of many similar incidents. "The problem is, nobody knows how common it is," long-time chiropractic critic Stephen Barrett, MD, tells WebMD. "The chiropractic profession either does not keep track of, or won't reveal, the actual figures. Their largest malpractice insurer will not give out the figures despite numerous attempts to obtain them."

The chiropractic profession says the risks are very well known -- and they're small. Jerome F. McAndrews, national spokesman for the American Chiropractic Association and a member of the board of directors of the profession's leading malpractice insurance company, tells WebMD there have been only 130 incidents of manipulation-caused stroke in history. McAndrews says of those, 46% were done by nonchiropractors such as osteopaths, orthopaedic surgeons, and physical therapists -- even though chiropractors perform 94% of all manipulations.

"By comparison, your odds of dying in an accredited American medical hospital from medical mistakes, are 5,000 in one million," says McAndrews.

Greg Tinker, a medical litigator in Seattle for 26 years, calls the numbers used by the chiropractic industry "phony statistics and faulty analysis." Tinker tells WebMD, "their numbers are based on some bizarre estimates based on reported cases and the reported cases are only the ones admitted by the chiropractors' insurance companies. I'm certain it is only the tip of the iceberg."

Tinker has represented three women who have suffered strokes after chiropractic treatments. "All involved strokes of young women with no other stroke risk factors other than chiropractic cervical manipulation."

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

brain illustration stroke
Know these 5 signs.
brain scans
Test your stroke smarts.
 
woman with migraine
Is there a link?
brain scan
Get the facts.
 
brain scans
Quiz
woman with migraine
Article
 
brain scan
Article
headache
Video
 
senior man stretching pre workout
Article
Floor level view of therapist helping stroke patie
Article
 
concerned woman
Article
Lowering Cholesterol Slideshow
SLIDESHOW