…Unfortunately, he can. Here is the evidence.
Let me be quite clear at the onset that I have no vendetta against chiropractors. Many of my friends are Chiropractors and the type of manipulation that can cause death is extremely rare. But, you, as a patient should know. Your best friend might try this technique on your neck. It has happened. The result can be terrible.
MANIPULATION OF THE NECK
The article is about manipulation of the neck with resultant death. That manipulation can be done by a chiropractor or any other type of physician such as a doctor of medicine, a doctor of osteopathy, a naturopath, or your best friend.
Unfortunately, chiropractors use a technique called “Spinal Manipulation” as the major method of curing disease or of relieving pain. As a consequence, as this published article demonstrates, chiropractors, more than any other group, had more deaths as a result of manipulating the head in order to change the anatomy of the neck or cervical spine.
Most lay people call Spinal Manipulation, “Cracking your Back.”
If you yourself have twisted your neck or your low back you have probably heard a “cracking” sound. Then you probably have felt a release of what seemed like tight muscles. Almost always, the sensation after the cracking sound is pleasant.
No one knows the exact cause of the “cracking sound!”
The same sound can occur with manipulation of the fingers, knees, or any joint. The cause is thought to be the result of the release of gas from the fluid found in the joint. Other physiologists think that the sound is produced by ligaments hitting bone.
In 1895, a fellow called David d. Palmer, manipulated the spine of a janitor, produced the cracking sound, and the janitor felt that his hearing had improved. David Palmer decided he had discovered a new medical treatment and two years later opened the School of Chiropractic. Today there are hundreds of Chiropractic Schools throughout the world.
The Chiropractic theory of disease is unchanged. The Spine has an anatomic defect called a “subluxation” and this defect causes disease. This “Theory” of disease may be difficult to understand, but millions of people believe it, and millions of people have been “cured” by spinal manipulations. The “subluxation” is simply a distortion of the normal spinal anatomy and can be corrected with an “adjustment.”
The “adjustment” consists of twisting the spine, or manipulating the spine. During that process there are generally “cracking” sounds. Frequently, the patient feels better immediately. However, the majority of the cases require a series of “adjustments” until the disease or complaint is “cured.”
My Clinic in Florida was adjacent to a Chiropractic Clinic. I knew the Chiropractor well. We were friends, and he frequently consulted me concerning x-ray studies or the complaints of his patients. He would never manipulate the neck of a patient because he was well aware of the potential consequences.
ANATOMY OF THE NECK
The neck, as we can see in this diagram, has four major arteries coursing through it.
The two large arteries in the front of the neck are the CAROTID arteries. They are large and pulsate with each heart beat. If you place your fingers in the side of your neck, you can easily feel their pulsations. It is the easiest way of counting your pulse.
Behind the CAROTID arteries, hidden in small holes in the arch of each vertebrae are two smaller arteries called VERTEBRAL arteries. The VERTEBRAL arteries cannot be felt, and most people do not know they exist!
Yet, these two arteries come together at the base of the brain and form one of the most important arteries of the brain, the BASILAR artery.
If you tear or cut one or both of the VERTEBRAL arteries you immediately cut off the supply of blood to the base of the brain where all your vital functions, such as breathing, are controlled.
YOU CAN TEAR THE VERTEBRAL ARTERIES BY TWISTING THE NECK!
MANIPULATING THE NECK
In the past, and for many, in the present, many physicians believe that headaches or neck aches can be relieved by twisting the neck.
TECHNIQUE (DO NOT TRY!)
The patient is placed in the SUPINE Position, lying on his back and facing up. The head is grasped with both hands and and twisted right and left.
A “cracking” sound is often heard. The patient may report that his complaint (head ache, neck ache) is gone. Or, he may report that the complaint is unchanged. Or he may suddenly die!
The reason for death: A torn Vertebral Artery with no blood flow to the Basilar Artery. Or, a blood clot in the Basilar Artery.
EXCERPT FROM PUBLISHED STUDY
“Twenty-six fatalities were published since 1934 in 23 articles.
Most of the victims were relatively young; 14 were below the age of 40. There was a slight majority of female patients. The type of complication associated with death frequently related to a vascular accident leading to thrombosis and cerebral infarction. The time between treatment and death ranged from 1 h to 58 days; in 10 cases, it was 1 day or less. Unfortunately, the published information was often incomplete.
Many other fatalities seem to have remained unpublished. For instance, the testimony of the chiropractor Preston Long for a court in Connecticut recently listed the family names of nine victims: Mathiason, Solsbury, Mc Cornick, Venegas, Bedenbaugh, Lewis, Fawcett, Parisien, Standt. Long also states that “many others [are] unknown hidden behind legal agreements of silence.”
A website names further North American fatalities: Linda Epping (California), G. Fowden (Utah), Ronald Grainger (Alberta), John Hoffman (Maryland), Renate Dora Labonte (Ontario), Jose Lopez (California), Donald Pereyra (Connecticut), Elizabeth A. Roth (Ontario) and Kimberly Lee Strohecker (Pennsylvania).
This review is focused on deaths after chiropractic, yet neck manipulations are, of course, used by other healthcare professionals as well. The reason for this focus is simple: chiropractors are more frequently associated with serious manipulation-related adverse effects than osteopaths, physiotherapists, doctors or other professionals. Of the 40 cases of serious adverse effects mentioned above, 28 can be traced back to a chiropractor and none to an osteopath.
A review of complications after spinal manipulations by any type of healthcare professional included three deaths related to osteopaths, nine to medical practitioners, none to a physiotherapist, one to a naturopath and 17 to chiropractors. This article also summarised a total of 265 vascular accidents of which 142 were linked to chiropractors. Another review of complications after neck manipulations published by 1997 included 177 vascular accidents, 32 of which were fatal. The vast majority of these cases were associated with chiropractic and none with physiotherapy.
The most obvious explanation for the dominance of chiropractic is that chiropractors routinely employ high-velocity, short-lever thrusts on the upper spine with a rotational element, while the other healthcare professionals use them much more sparingly.
In conclusion, numerous deaths have been associated with chiropractic neck manipulations. There are reasons to suspect that under-reporting is substantial and reliable incidence figures do not exist. The risks of chiropractic neck manipulations by far outweigh their benefits. Healthcare professionals should advise the public accordingly.”
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Ford FR, Clark D. Thrombosis of the basilar artery with softenings in the cerebellum and brain stem due to manipulation of the neck; a report of two cases with one post-mortem examination, reasons are given to prove that damage to the vertebral arteries is responsible. Bull Johns Hopkins Hosp 1956; 98: 37—42.
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Schmitt HP. Rupturen und Thrombosen
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