I have gotten chiropractic care for years for various reasons and with good results. In 2008, I started a prevention program of chiropractic care called Chiropractic Biophysics or CBP that would straighten my neck and spine and prevent future aches and pains. The argument was compelling enough to me that I committed to a one-year spine rehab program and chiropractic care with my chiropractor. I typically went two to three times a week thinking nothing more than I am doing the right thing. Within a short time though, I started to wonder if it was really necessary to adjust my neck every single time. I had no neck issues; at least I didn’t have any at the time!
My doctor reassured me that this manual manipulation of the neck was part of the treatment and was good. Fast forward a year. On October 19, 2009, a day I will always remember, I get my routine manual neck adjustment (which I can assure you was my last) and go about my day.
I woke up the next day to a not-so-pleasant surprise. My left eyelid was sagging, my pupil totally dilated, and I had brain fog. I was home alone and concerned. Everything I read indicated that I should go to the emergency room. I did just that and spent the next 24 hours at the hospital. After about a year of regular adjustments with the same chiropractor, this time he did something differently. That difference apparently caused a carotid artery dissection, which according to Wikipedia, is a separation of the layers of the artery wall supplying oxygen-bearing blood to the head and brain, and is the most common cause of stroke in young adults.
The neurologist who oversaw my case at the hospital and was to follow me for the next year told me that I was the 12th patient he had seen in his career who this happen to after a manual manipulation of the neck by a chiropractor. The other 11 were not so lucky. They had all had strokes! I also was at high risk of a stroke and was put on a blood thinner for 6 months. It took me about a year for my speech to come back fully because this incident definitely impaired my speech along with my brain function.
I am sharing this story with you not because I want any sympathy but to make you aware that manual manipulation of the neck has significant risk and that there are better, more gentle techniques to help your neck. As much as I resisted going back to a chiropractor, I discovered NUCCA, which is a gentle, non-invasive technique that, in my opinion, is the best form of chiropractic care.
It’s now been almost three years and my neck regularly bothers me. The chiropractic care prevention program that was supposed to be great actually caused the very thing it was to prevent. Please do your due diligence before doing any such spinal rehab program but mostly be very weary of manual neck manipulation. Your health, quality of life and even your life may depend on it!