Whenever the topic of chiropractic comes up, someone will usually express a fear of having their neck “cracked”. “I hear they cause strokes, ” one chides in. Then images are conjured up of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a tight commando uniform sneaking up behind an unsuspecting enemy and snap! with one swift twist, his victim is rendered lifeless. Others think of a medical doctor shaking his finger stating that having your neck popped could result in dire consequences.
Chiropractic is amazing, and that is what is unbelievable for people. I have seen first-hand how it works. – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Exploring the Myth
Recent exposés in the popular media have led to the popular notion that chiropractic adjustments cause strokes. Such information has been greatly exaggerated. Interestingly, many of these reported cases did not involve doctors of chiropractic, but rather, those delivering the manipulation were medical doctors, physical therapists, naturopaths, osteopaths, spouses, a barber, and even an unlicensed masseur at a local health club. When a highly specialized and specific procedure, such as a chiropractic adjustment, is delivered by the inexperienced, someone is bound to be harmed. Researchers have shown the incidence of stroke following an adjustment when done by a doctor of chiropractic is almost non-existent. Interestingly, data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the incidence of stroke in the general population at any given moment is double that of a stroke occurring following manipulation. This would seem to indicate that one would run a higher risk of stroke if they were not adjusted.
There is a host of studies validating the safety of chiropractic adjustments. One of the most thorough concluded, Chiropractic care is greatly superior to medical treatment in terms of scientific validity, safety, cost effectiveness, and patient satisfaction. (The Ontario Ministry of Health, 1993). If chiropractic were truly dangerous then malpractice insurance companies who are in business to make a profit would not charge the average doctor of chiropractic half of what they charge medical internists. Medical doctors pay as much as $200,000 a year in malpractice premiums which is 80 times what the average doctor of chiropractic pays.
The Real Dangers of Other Accepted Neck Treatments
Here is a list of risks involved with widely accepted treatments for neck problems:
- Medication – 140,000 die annually from side effects
- Aspirin – 1 in 7000 daily users suffer a stroke as a result
- Chymopapain injection – 1 death in every 1400
- Neck surgery – 1 paralysis in every 15,000
- Chiropractic adjustment – 1 injury approx. every 3,400,000
What is the “cracking” sound?
The sounds associated with most adjustments are not bones snapping, cartilage cracking, or any other harmful process. The sound you may hear during an adjustment is an abrupt liberation of gas from the fluid inside a joint. The movement, which occurs with an adjustment, causes a gas bubble of predominantly carbon dioxide to collapse causing a pop much like air rapidly escaping from bubble wrap.
What a doctor of chiropractic really does
A doctor of chiropractic is not concerned with “cracking” your neck. What the doctor is concerned with is correcting a health threatening and potentially devastating condition called Vertebral Subluxation. Vertebral Subluxation refers to a spinal bone losing its normal position and motion which causes irritation to the nearby delicate nerve tissue. When a doctor of chiropractic properly adjusts the spine, normal joint and nerve function can be restored, and the body can heal safely and naturally.
“You (the doctor) have more chance of dying from the effort of giving the adjustment than your patient from receiving it.” – Chapan-Smith D. Chiropractic Report
You have nothing to lose, but the pain!