Friday, September 5, 2008

Chiropractic: Strokes and Class Action

In my Child Psychiatric practice, I was often asked by parents if they should see a chiropractor about their neck problem. I did wonder if dealing with a difficult child really did cause a “pain in the neck”. These questions are difficult as I am not in the habit of endorsing something that may indeed be potentially harmful.

The New York Times recently ran this headline:

The Claim: Manipulating Your Neck Could Lead to a Stroke

“Manipulating your neck is supposed to relieve pain, not cause it. But years ago neurologists noticed a strange pattern of people suffering strokes shortly after seeing chiropractors, specifically for neck adjustments.

Their hypothesis was that a chiropractic technique called cervical spinal manipulation, involving a forceful twisting of the neck, could damage two major arteries that lead through the neck to the back of the brain. Strokes in people under age 45 are relatively rare, but these cervical arterial dissections are a leading cause of them.

Studies that followed suggested a link. One at Stanford that surveyed 177 neurologists found 55 patients who suffered strokes after seeing chiropractors. Another, published in the journal Neurologist, said young stroke patients were five times more likely to have had neck adjustments within a week of their strokes than a control group. It estimated an incidence of 1.3 cases for every 100,000 people under 45 receiving neck adjustments.”

In June of this year the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) reported:

Paralyzed Alberta woman sues chiropractors, province for $500M

"A perfectly healthy young woman's (Sandra Nette) life has been irreparably and devastatingly damaged as a result of her exposure to a chiropractor's manipulation of the vertebrae in her upper neck to correct alleged subluxations," the statement of claim says.

"The procedure is an ineffective and dangerous one which chiropractors employ routinely. Ideological practitioners of chiropractic masquerading in the white smock of science perpetuate its unregulated, indiscriminate use with the condonation and protection of their supposed regulator against all reason. It has got to be stopped."

The report went on to describe what happened:

“In her statement of claim, Nette says she went for a treatment session at the chiropractor's, during which he manipulated her neck.

After the session, she says, she felt dizzy as she was driving home and pulled over, calling her husband for help. As he was carrying her into the hospital emergency bay, she collapsed and went into convulsions, suffering permanent neurological damage.”

“After life-saving surgery at the University of Alberta Hospital, Sandy, a senior land administrator in the oil and gas industry, was left almost completely paralysed, a quadriplegic totally dependent on machines, hospital staff and her husband for her life support and care.” According to Rabble Canada.

In an age when famous people and celebrities endorse non mainstream medical treatment, it is important that we are reminded of the pitfalls of untested If parents were to ask me the same question nowadays, perhaps I would have a more definitive answer for them.

1 comment:

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