Stroke After Visits to Atlanta, Georgia Chiropractors

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Many Atlantans seek chiropractic care after auto accidents and in an effort to relieve chronic, nagging back and neck pain. Disagreements between medical doctors and chiropractors, in terms of appropriate strategies for care, is nothing new. However, interestingly, there is a heated debate between doctors and chiropractors when it comes to the risk of stroke due to improper neck adjustments.

Medical doctors are confident and adamant that when a person’s neck is “adjusted” by a chiropractor the risk of stroke is increased. How? The vertebral arteries cross near the atlas and the axis in the neck. Force or trauma to the neck can result in a piece of the vertebral artery coming loose and occluding (blocking) blood flow to the brain. Picture a mud-flap coming up and blocking the passage of blood to the head. The result is an ischemic (lack of blood flow) stroke. As an attorney handling serious injury cases in Dekalb and Clayton Counties (and all around the metro Atlanta area), I have evaluated a number of chiropractic malpractice cases. In fact, one case I handled has been discussed in national chiropractic stroke forums. Medical doctors urge the careful selection of a chiropractor and immediate medical attention if symptoms such as disorientation, dizziness, confusion, or headache present after a chiropractic “adjustment.”

Not surprisingly, chiropractors believe that the risk of vertebral artery dissection strokes is not increased during neck adjustments. The chiropractic community seems to believe that this is another effort by the medical community to discredit chiropractics.

What is clear is that vertebral artery dissections occur after neck adjustments. Whether or not there is a causal relation significant enough to prove a direct relationship, only time and further study will tell. (As a personal note, it doesn’t seem that unlikely that twisting and “adjusting” the neck could lead to damage to the arteries and vessels in the neck).

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