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Patients raise alarm about neck adjustmentsCTVNEWS.com Staff
Sat. Apr. 27 2002 4:29 PM
Just how safe or how risky are chiropractic neck adjustments? Even chiropractors admit there is a risk a patient might have a stroke. But it's a one in a million chance. And that, according to the profession, is no more risky than many other medications or medical procedures.
But some doctors say the more they look, the more strokes they are finding -- strokes they link to chiropractic neck adjustments.
Stroke patient Les Limage, 67, says the symptoms of his stroke began shortly after his chiropractic neck adjustment. He started having headaches, double vision, and nausea. Five days after the adjustment, he was in intensive care and on a respirator.
His doctor found evidence of a tear in an artery at the back of the neck. Limage's family is suing the chiropractor, for what they claim was a stroke caused by that chiropractic treatment.
"I just want people to know what can happen to you," Limage explains.
Nilla Corvaro is also suing her chiropractor and the chiropractic college where she was a student for a neck adjustment she says has left her with constant pain, a ringing in her ears and limited mobility.
"I believe that they should do one of two things: either abandon neck adjustments, or provide information to the consumer in a format they can understand," Corvaro says.
And then there are the 63 neurologists who have signed a public warning, who say they are taking note of patients coming in with what appear to be dissected or torn neck arteries that they believe are linked to neck adjustments.
"The chiropractors are going to say, 'This is anecdotal'," says neurologist Dr. Brad Stewart. "Yeah, you're darn right it's anecdotal. But I am getting calls from neurologists, neuro radiologists, neurosurgeons, internists saying, 'You know, I had this patient with a dissection who died shortly after'."
Some 30 million neck adjustments are performed in Canada each year by chiropractors who maintain the treatment helps keeps patients limber and out of pain.
"We are very solidly standing on good solid ground when we tell the public that what we do is safe and effective," says Stan Gorchinsky of the Canadian Chiropractic Association.
The chiropractors say they are being unfairly blamed for strokes that could happen spontaneously, strokes that have nothing to do with their treatment.
"The adjustment itself is done within the normal range of that individual's ability to turn their neck," Gorchinsky says. "And it is done very skillfully and very un-traumatically."
The risk of stroke, according to the chiropractors is one in a million. Many patients are convinced that small risk is worth the benefits.
"It keeps me more relaxed and helps me more able to keep going with my daily routine," says chiropractic patient Gary Graham.
It's just a sample of the emotional battle underway for the minds and the necks of Canadians and 100-year old treatment that is undergoing a very modern, and very public scrutiny.
CTV's W-FIVE will have more on the debate over the risks and benefits of neck adjustments in program airing at a special time Sunday at 7 p.m.