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Study shows that chiropractic neck manipulation is safe

For decades questions have been raised over the safety of spinal manipulation of the neck. The main concern has centred around the most catastrophic but thankfully also very rare occurrence of damage to the arteries carrying blood to the brain.

The potential outcome of arterial damage is the occurrence of  a stroke, but the risk following neck manipulation is thought to be less than 1:1,000,000. Put that into context of an approximate 1 in 1200 risk of serious stomach bleeds with potential catastrophic consequences for regular users of Ibuprofen, which is commonly used to relieve neck and head pain, and the risk pales into insignificance.

However, there is increasing evidence that neck manipulation when performed by skilled practitioners does not cause arterial damage at all. The latest research published in The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) shows that the forces transmitted through the arteries during manipulation are far too small to cause injury. In fact the strain is lower than when you fully turn your head to one side yourself.

Yes, there are cases where people have suffered a stroke shortly after receiving manipulative treatment but it may be that the damage was already present and that the occurrence of the stroke was incidental to the treatment rather than caused by it. It also appears that the incidence of an arterial stroke is the same regardless of whether you consult your GP or receive manipulative therapy.

For more information please contact us on 01903 230066 to speak to one of our experienced chiropractors.

See also: Should we abandon spinal manipulation for neck pain?, JMPT

                 Neck Pain Task Force findings, Spine Journal 2008

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