Debunking the odd myth that chiropractors cause strokes. I’m almost done with this y’all. In this final episode of this series, we will discuss risky interventions, papers having to do with the risk, or lack thereof, of chiropractic adjustments to the cervical region specifically, and then a wrap up of the information.
DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes Revisited
Part 2 of 3
This week we are in Episode #2 of the 3 episodes where we are systematically debunking the odd myth that chiropractors cause strokes. I’m not having it folks. The chiropractors cause strokes myth is old and tired and in need of retirement. In this episode, we will discuss research papers demonstrating and validating benefits of having cervical manipulation treatments. Or chiropractic adjustments to the neck. We will talk about the benefits, according to research, for neck pain as well as for headaches. And we’ll also talk a little about where this chiropractors cause strokes myth came from and why it perpetuates to this day.
Before we get started, I want to draw your attention to the reviews over at iTunes. If you would be kind enough to leave us a great review we sure would appreciate you! This is a new podcast and we need all the help we can get!
Right now though, it’s time for bumper music!
Welcome to the podcast today, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast where we talk about issues related to health, chiropractic, evidence, chiropractic advocacy, and research. Thank you for taking time out of your day I know your time is valuable and I want to fill it with value so here we go. I can’t think of a more valuable way to spend you time if you’re a chiropractor than to learn how to debunk the chiropractors cause strokes myth and shut people down on it.
Let’s begin this episode by thanking those of you that sent emails to me after this chiropractors cause strokes myth series kicked off last week. You guys are great. The best way you can help is to share these episodes with as many people as you can. We can get this myth debunked and we can put it to rest right here, right now. But, obviously, I can’t do it myself. I need your help to do it.
I also want to remind you that this is part 2 of a three part series on the chiropractors cause strokes myth. Last week was part one of the chiropractors cause strokes myth where we discussed some risky odds, some case specific discussion, some signs and symptoms of vertebral artery dissection, and some research dealing with common treatments within the medical profession.
Be sure to go back and listen to it if you have not. It’s essential.
Then next week we will discuss other risky interventions, papers having to do with the risk, or lack thereof, of chiropractic adjustments to the cervical region specifically, and then a wrap up of the information putting the chiropractors cause strokes myth to bed once and for all.
Don’t miss it folks.
Now, let’s get on with our risk vs. reward discussion with the BENEFITS of cervical manipulation therapy.
If we talk about danger with an intervention, then don’t we have to talk about the risk vs. reward ratio?
I want to start off with the benefits of cervical manipulation for neck pain specifically. Each paper mentioned includes a short description of the conclusion for each paper cited. Also each of these papers is referenced in the show notes and can be very easily reviewed independently. You have to know that I am going to absolutely murder some of these names and I don’t even care. I’m small town South y’all. I’m not fancy at all. All I can is do my best but I assure you I’m not going to do backflips trying to figure out the correct pronunciation of each of these names. Be sure though, the days of Dr. Smith or Dr. Jones doing all of the research are no longer Take this first name as an example.
- Korthalis-de Bos IB, et. al. – “Manual therapy (spinal mobilization) is more effective and less costly for treating neck pain than physiotherapy or care by a general practitioner.”
- Dewitte V, et. al. – “Based on key features in subjective and clinical examination, patients with mechanical nociceptive pain probably arising from articular structures can be categorized into specific articular dysfunction patterns. Pending on these patterns, specific mobilization and manipulation techniques are warranted. The proposed patterns are illustrated in 3 case studies. This clinical algorithm is the corollary of empirical expertise and is complemented by in-depth discussions and knowledge exchange with international colleagues. Consequently, it is intended that a carefully targeted approach contributes to an increase in specificity and safety in the use of cervical mobilizations and manipulation techniques as valuable adjuncts to other manual therapy modalities.”
- Dunning JR, et. al. – “The combination of upper cervical and upper thoracic HVLA thrust manipulation is appreciably more effective in the short term than nonthrust mobilization in patients with mechanical neck pain.”
- Brontfort G, et. al. – “For participants with acute and subacute neck pain, SMT was more effective than medication in both the short and long term. However, a few instructional sessions of HEA resulted in similar outcomes at most time points.”
- Puentedura EJ, et. al. – The objective of the paper was as follows: “Thrust joint manipulation to the cervical spine has been shown to be effective in patients presenting with a primary report of neck pain. It would be useful for clinicians to have a decision-making tool, such as a clinical prediction rule, that could accurately identify which subgroup of patients would respond positively to cervical thrust joint manipulation.” In the results, they showed if 3 or more of the 4 attributes were present,” the probability of experiencing a successful outcome improved from 39% to 90%.”
- Yu H, et. al. – “Chiropractic management of atlantoaxial osteoarthritis yielded favorable outcomes for these 10 patients.”
- Puentedura EJ, et. al. – “Patients with neck pain who met 4 of 6 of the CPR criteria for successful treatment of neck pain with a thoracic spine thrust joint manipulation demonstrated a more favorable response when the thrust joint manipulation was directed to the cervical spine rather than the thoracic spine. Patients receiving cervical thrust joint manipulation also demonstrated fewer transient side-effects.”
- Miller J, et. al. – “Moderate quality evidence supports this treatment combination (cervical manual therapy combined with exercise) for pain reduction and improved quality of life over manual therapy alone for chronic neck pain; and suggests greater short-term pain reduction when compared to traditional care for acute whiplash.”
- Hurwitz EL, et. al. – “Our best evidence synthesis suggests that therapies involving manual therapy and exercise are more effective than alternative strategies for patients with neck pain.”
- Muller R, et. al. – “In patients with chronic spinal pain syndromes, spinal manipulation, if not contraindicated, may be the only treatment modality of the assessed regimens that provides broad and significant long-term benefit.”
- Zhu L, et. al. – “There was moderate level evidence to support the immediate effectiveness of cervical spine manipulation in treating people with cervical radiculopathy.”
- Giles LG, et. al. – “The consistency of the results provides, despite some discussed shortcomings of this study, evidence that in patients with chronic spinal pain, manipulation, if not contraindicated, results in greater short-term improvement than acupuncture or medication.”
- Bronfort G, et. al. – “Our data synthesis suggests that recommendations can be made with some confidence regarding the use of spinal manipulative therapy and/or mobilization as a viable option for the treatment of both low back pain and neck pain.”
There you have a fairly thick list of research papers demonstrating the effectiveness of chiropractic adjustments for uncomplicated neck pain but neck pain is not the only reason to have a chiropractic adjustment delivered to the cervical region. Another very common reason for neck adjustments would be for the treatment of acute and chronic headaches.
Chiropractors see headache patients in their offices daily and research shows us those patients are in the right place for the best, non-pharmacological treatment of the complaint.
Here is a listing of papers demonstrating the benefits of cervical manipulation for headaches. Each paper mentioned includes a short description of the conclusion for each paper cited. Also each of these papers is referenced in the show notes and can be very easily reviewed independently
- Malo-Urries M, et. al. – “Upper cervical translatoric spinal mobilization intervention increased upper, and exhibited a tendency to improve general, cervical range of motion and induce immediate headache relief in subjects with cervicogenic headache.”
- Espi-Lopez GV, et. al. – “In short, manual therapy techniques and manipulation applied to the suboccipital region for four weeks or more showed great improvement and in effectiveness for several aspects that measure the quality of life of a patient having suffered from tension type headaches.”
- Dunning J, et. al. – “Six to eight sessions of upper cervical and upper thoracic manipulation were shown to be more effective than mobilization and exercise in patients with cervicogenic headache, and the effects were maintained at 3 months.”
- Hurwitz EL, et. al. – “Utilization and expenditures for headache treatment increased from 2000 to 2009 across all provider groups. MD care represented the majority of total allowed charges in this study. MD care and DC care, alone or in combination, were overall the least expensive patterns of headache care. Risk-adjusted charges were significantly less for DC-only care.”
- Bronfort G, et. al. – “SMT appears to have a better effect than massage for cervicogenic headache. It also appears that SMT has an effect comparable to commonly used first-line prophylactic prescription medications for tension-type headache and migraine headache.”
- Bronfort G, et. al. – “Chiropractic is effective in acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain, migraines and headaches originating from the neck, for the treatment of some forms of dizziness, extremity and joint issues, as well as mid back and acute and subacute neck pain.
- Tuchin PJ, et. al. – “The results of this study support previous results showing that some people report significant improvement in migraines after chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy. A high percentage (>80%) of participants reported stress as a major factor for their migraines. It appears probable that chiropractic care has an effect on the physical conditions related to stress and that in these people the effects of the migraine are reduced.”
- McCrory D, et. al. – “Cervical spinal manipulation was associated with improvement in headache outcomes in two trials involving patients with neck pain and/or neck dysfunction and headache. Manipulation appeared to result in immediate improvement in headache severity when used to treat episodes of cervicogenic headache when compared with an attention-placebo control. Furthermore, when compared to soft-tissue therapies (massage), a course of manipulation treatments resulted in sustained improvement in headache frequency and severity.”
Many headache patients present to chiropractors after a considerable amount of time spent taking headache and migraine medications. Medications do not come without consequences. Certainly when taking long-term. Not only have they spent a considerable amount of time on medication, they often have had botox injections, steroid injections, and worse before finally going to the chiropractor.
It is a fact that patients should have the GUARANTEED of the best treatment that does the LEAST amount of harm. In that spirit, and considering that chiropractic is safe, effective, and non-pharmacologic, it makes sense that the medical field should actually PROMOTE chiropractic as a viable and valuable treatment for headaches and migraines rather than dismiss it as ineffectual and dangerous.
Having demonstrated study upon study validating the effectiveness and benefit of cervical manipulation for neck pain (acute, subacute, and chronic) and headaches (chronic, acute, subacute, tension-type, cervicogenic, and migraines), we can now focus attention on research papers and abstracts having to do with the risk of stroke instance (lack of risk) as a direct result of cervical chiropractic adjustments. Hopefully, you are getting a more clear picture of the chiropractors cause strokes myth and its absolutely foolishness.
But first, where would you think the idea of chiropractors running around stroking everyone out might come from? I believe there are at least a few root sources.
- You guessed it: our old friend the American Medical Association and their state association underlings. This group deemed it unethical to refer to chiropractors or accept referrals FROM They tried to run us out of business by conducting conferences about chiropractic and generating literature that was anti-chiropractic. They then dispersed the misinformation down through the channels of the state medical associations all the way out to the medical doctors, nurses, and medical field profession out in the field, and then ultimately to their patient bases. The “Chiropractors Cause Strokes” myth was well within their ability to propagate. When your initiative is to rid the Earth of the chiropractic profession, you take advantage of what you can. The Federal Court decision in Wilk vs. AMA shows the AMA did just that.
- The other likely culprit for the chiropractors cause strokes myth in my estimation would be patients visiting medical professionals after having been to a chiropractor and having suffering a stroke sometime afterward. I did not say chiropractors “causing” strokes. Research shows us that people are going to chiropractors already suffering arterial tears that are sometimes spontaneous in nature. While chiropractors have a high level of education, there are many out there that are simply untrained at catching red flags and making the proper referral. Other times, patients present with very common symptoms and there are no red flags present whatsoever. The chiropractor treats the patient thinking they are going to help improve a neck complaint or a headache while in reality they may be exacerbating a tear. When the patient reaches the medical professional, the link is easy to make for the uninformed: chiropractor causes stroke.
- Ignorance – The simple lack of knowledge regarding the body of evidence and research that is available dealing with the chiropractors cause strokes myth perpetuates the myth. It is clear the benefits are present. It is clear the risks are not. End of story. But if one is ignorant of the literature,
This is where we are going to stop for this second episode of the chiropractors cause strokes series. Remember, it is a three part series.
The benefit is researched and it’s real. There is no denial possible.
Be sure to tune in next week for the third and final part of the three part series. Next week, we will discuss risky interventions, papers having to do with the risk, or lack thereof, of chiropractic adjustments to the cervical region specifically, and then a wrap up of the information.
Please feel free to send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think or what suggestions you may have for us for future episodes
If you love what you hear, be sure to check out www.chiropracticforward.com. As this podcast builds, so will the website with more content, products, and chances to learn.
We cannot wait to connect again with you next week for third and final part of the debunking of the chiropractors cause strokes myth. From Creek Stone, my office here in Amarillo, TX, home of the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward.
Other episodes of interest include:
- Korthals-de Bos IB, Cost effectiveness of physiotherapy, manual therapy, and general practitioner care for neck pain: economic evaluation alongside a randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal, 2003. 326(7395): p. 911.
- Dewitte V, Articular dysfunction patterns in patients with mechanical neck pain: a clinical algorithm to guide specific mobilization and manipulation techniques. Man Ther, 2014. 19(2-9).
- Dunning J, Upper cervical and upper thoracic manipulation versus mobilization and exercise in patients with cervicogenic headache: a multi-center randomized clinical trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 2016. 16(64).
- Bronfort G, Spinal Manipulation, Medication, or Home Exercise With Advice for Acute and Subacute Neck Pain: A Randomized Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine 2012. Ann Intern Med, 2012. 156(1): p. 1-10.
- Puentedura EJ, Development of a clinical prediction rule to identify patients with neck pain likely to benefit from thrust joint manipulation to the cervical spine. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 2012. 42(7): p. 577-92.
- Yu H, Upper cervical manipulation combined with mobilization for the treatment of atlantoaxial osteoarthritis: a report of 10 cases. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 2011. 34(2): p. 131-7.
- Puentedura EJ, Thoracic spine thrust manipulation versus cervical spine thrust manipulation in patients with acute neck pain: a randomized clinical trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 2011. 41(4): p. 208-20.
- Miller J, Manual therapy and exercise for neck pain: a systematic review. Man Ther, 2010. 15(4): p. 334-54.
- Hurwitz EL, e.a., Treatment of neck pain: noninvasive interventions: results of the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders. Spine, 2008. 33(4 Suppl): p. S123-52.
- Muller R, G.L., Long-term follow-up of a randomized clinical trial assessing the efficacy of medication, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation for chronic mechanical spinal pain syndromes. J Manipulative Physiol Ther., 2005. 28(1): p. 3-11.
- Zhu L, Does cervical spine manipulation reduce pain in people with degenerative cervical radiculopathy? A systematic review of the evidence, and a meta-analysis. Clin Rehabil, 2015.
- Giles LGF, M.R., Chronic spinal pain syndromes: a clinical pilot trial comparing acupuncture, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, and spinal manipulation. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 1999. 22(6): p. 376-81.
- Bronfort G, Efficacy of spinal manipulation and mobilization for low back pain and neck pain: a systematic review and best evidence synthesis. Spine, 2004. May-Jun 4(3): p. 335-56.
- Malo-Urries M, Immediate Effects of Upper Cervical Translatoric Mobilization on Cervical Mobility and Pressure Pain Threshold in Patients With Cervicogenic Headache: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 2017. 40(9): p. 649-658.
- Espi-Lopez G, e.a., Do manual therapy techniques have a positive effect on quality of life in people with tension-type headache? A randomized controlled trial. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med, 2016. 13(1): p. 4-13.
- Hurwitz EL, e.a., Variations in Patterns of Utilization and Charges for the Care of Neck Pain in North Carolina, 2000 to 2009: A Statewide Claims’ Data Analysis. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 2016. May 39(4): p. 240-51.
- Bronfort G, Efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic headache: a systematic review. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 2001. 24(7): p. 457-466.
- Bronfort G, Effectiveness of manual therapies: The UK evidence report. Chiropr Osteopat, 2010. 18(3).
- Tuchin PJ, e.a., A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 2000. 23(2): p. 91-95.
- McCrory D, Behavioral and Physical Treatments for Tension-type and Cervicogenic Headache. Duke University Evidence-based Practice Center, Center for Clinical Health Policy Research.
This week, we are going to start tackling the chiropractors cause strokes myth that has run rampant for years and I hope to once and for all dispel it. The information could not be clearer on the chiropractors cause strokes myth and we’re gonna to show it to you in a way that you can understand and in a way that allows you to show it to others. I’m done with this myth, folks!
Before we get started, I want to draw your attention to the reviews over at iTunes. If you would be kind enough to leave us a great review we sure would appreciate you! This is a new podcast and we need all the help we can get!
Right now though, it’s time for bumper music!
Welcome to the podcast today, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast where we talk about issues related to health, chiropractic, evidence, chiropractic advocacy, and research. Thank you for taking time out of your day I know your time is valuable and I want to fill it with value so here we go.
Unfortunately, you have often read, watched, or heard me complaining about how our profession has been historically attacked by those organizations in charge of the medical profession. I hope those paying attention understand it is not just sour grapes.
It is education.
It has been proven in the courts that medical associations and organizations aligned together to force Chiropractic out of business. When we talk about profession validation, the history of our invalidation is incredibly important.
I continually bring these facts up in my articles, videos, and podcast because many of the things we talk about have their roots in our history, in the attacks our profession has sustained, and in the attacks our profession is currently battling.
From the start, let me state that research simply does NOT support the chiropractors cause strokes myth.
If you have seen the TV series called “Mythbusters,” then you know the smart red-headed guy and the bald bespectacled serious guy both, along with their rascally cohorts, took a common myth and tested its validity.
Some of the myths were outrageous and some seemed like they may actually be plausible. The show, whenever I watched it was highly entertaining and extremely educational. The entertaining part always came toward the end of the show when they would blow something to smithereens. That’s the part where the inner child in me would leap with glee. Internally of course, not externally.
This mythbusting process has already been carried out for the chiropractors cause strokes myth. Several times, in fact. Without the show-ending explosion of course. Although, at the end of this Mythbusting series, I may walk away with a mic drop if you’re all OK with that.
I say mythbusting series because there is SO MUCH information here that I have to split it into 3 different episodes for the chiropractors cause strokes podcast series. I’m pumping my own tires and I am completely full of myself on what I’m about to say here and I’m well-aware of the fact but, from what I have seen out there on the interwebs, I feel like this is, or at least CAN be, the definitive article, the definitive podcast, the definitive gathering of the information for this topic. If that is indeed the lofty goal I’m aiming for, it has to be comprehensive and somewhat exhaustive and I don’t think I can maintain your focus and interest for the entire amount of the information to be compiled into one super long episode. Dispelling the chiropractors cause strokes myth is too important to lose your attention.
I have split it into three episodes that will break up like this
The first episode, the one you’re currently listening to will include some risky odds, some case specific discussion, some signs and symptoms of vertebral artery dissection, and some research dealing with common treatments within the medical profession.
In the second episode coming next Thursday we will discuss research papers demonstrating and validating benefits of having cervical manipulation treatments. Or chiropractic adjustments to the neck. We will talk about the benefits, according to research, for neck pain as well as for headaches. And we’ll also talk a little about where this chiropractors cause strokes myth came from and why it perpetuates to this day.
In the third and final episode we will discuss risky interventions, papers having to do with the risk, or lack thereof, of chiropractic adjustments to the cervical region specifically, and then a wrap up of the information on this chiropractors cause strokes myth.
Stick with us on this.
If you are a chiropractor, a chiropractic advocate, patient, or an open-minded professional in the field of healthcare, I am absolutely certain you are going to learn stuff that you never knew you did not know. It’s a guarantee.
Now, let’s dive into this first episode of the chiropractors cause stroke series.
Through the RAND institute, it is estimated that a serious, adverse reaction (such as stroke as a result to a chiropractic adjustment alone) happens in approximately 1 out of every 1 million treatments?
Let’s put that finding into perspective by comparing it to some other odds.
- The odds of being struck and killed by lightning is 1 in 174,426 according to the National Safety Council.
- The odds of being told to “Come on down,” on The Price Is Right is 1 in 36!
- The odds of being born with 11 fingers or toes is 1 in 500.
- The odds of dying from a firearms assault is 1 in 113.
- How about this one: the odds of winning an Oscars are 1 in 11,500.
I think it’s time to move to LA!
The simple message is that there is very little (to absolutely almost zero) risk at all of a chiropractic adjustment being the sole cause for a person having suffered a stroke.
Consider that there are 70,000+ chiropractors in the United States of America. If Doctors of Chiropractic were out in the world causing strokes “all of the time,” it would be apparent, it would be obvious, and our malpractice insurance would reflect the fact that a visit to the chiropractor comes with a considerable amount of risk. To the contrary, we chiropractors have malpractice insurance that costs chiropractors approximately 1/10th of what it costs our medical counterparts. This fact alone should dispel the chiropractors cause strokes myth.
Before we start diving off into the research too deeply, I want to talk about a case that happened within the last couple of years (February 2016) that brought the “Chiropractors Cause Strokes” myth back to the forefront. It had to do with the “Queen of Snapchat” Katie May. Katie died of a stroke at the age of 34 and, by many, it was immediately assumed the stroke was caused by her two visits to a chiropractor to treat her recent onset of neck pain.
I actually wrote about this case shortly after it originally happened. Initial reports stated that she had a horrible fall while on the set of a photoshoot, which resulted in her neck pain. Then, for some reason, this fact seemed to disappear from further reports.
Also, initial reports stated that Katie visited either the ER or a medical professional prior to her visits with a chiropractor. The family later denies this so, admittedly, there is some confusion on the matter. With this information brought back into the reporting, let’s begin breaking it all down.
Katie posted this message to Twitter: “Pinched a nerve in my neck on a photoshoot and got adjusted this morning. It really hurts! Any home remedy suggestions loves? XOXO.”
Keep that in mind as we run through things that can cause a vertebral artery dissection such as Katie May suffered. They are as follows:
- Physical Trauma (direct blow to the neck, traffic collision, etc.)
- Spontaneous (from underlying connective tissue disorder)
According to one paper by Debette et. al., “Trauma has been reported to have occurred within a month of dissection in 40% with nearly 90% of this time the trauma being minor. “
Vertebral artery dissection (VAD) can be particularly difficult to diagnose without the use of a CT Angiogram. For instance, some common symptoms of VAD are as follows:
- Pain and/or numbness in the same side of the face.
- Head pain/Headache that develops gradually and can be dull or throbbing
- In less than 1/5th of the cases of VAD, people suffer difficulty speaking or swallowing.
- Possible unsteadiness or lack of coordination
- Visual abnormalities
- Hearing loss
When one reads this list, it is easy to diagnose a VAD, right?
It rarely presents with these classic signs.
VAD commonly presents as a healthy patient that shows up with a headache or neck pain and sometimes both. In fact, it is estimated that more than 80% of VAD cases present with neck pain and headache alone.
Is a medical professional or chiropractor going to refer every single one of these patients for a CT Angiogram or an MRI? Not very likely. It is simply not economically feasible to do so and good luck getting insurance companies to cover the costs of the CT Angiograms!
If Katie did indeed visit a medical professional after her fall, they missed it. Unfortunately, it seems obvious that the chiropractor missed it as well. That does not, however, mean the two professionals are inept. As the website for emedicine.com states, “The focal signs may not appear until after a latent period lasting as long as three days, however, and delays of weeks and years also have been reported.”
A study that we will discuss later shows that people commonly present to a chiropractor or a primary practitioner (medical doctor) already suffering an artery dissection before even walking into their offices but assuming the pain is a result of something innocent and simple.
With that being said, I don’t want to be completely biased here. If a healthy person shows up with a headache and neck pain BUT has a history of recent trauma, more exploration is advised, without question. Knowing this, I can relay countless stories of medical doctors having made bad decisions as well. I have heard countless stories throughout my twenty years of practice. Ultimately, we are all human which is why chiropractors and medical doctors both carry malpractice insurance. But, as I mentioned before, chiropractors’ malpractice is approximately 1/10th that of their medical counterparts because, basically, we do not typically cause any harms in our patients.
As we go through more and more papers, it should be clear that Katie likely suffered the VAD as a result of the fall during the photo shoot and the VAD was missed by the medical professionals (if she did indeed go) and then certainly missed by the chiropractor BUT, the chiropractor almost certainly did not CAUSE the VAD. There’s no we he helped it and could have even potentially exacerbated it, but it is highly doubtful and exceedingly rare that he could have been the CAUSE of it.
Some time later, the Los Angeles coroner reported that the chiropractor was responsible for Katie’s death. This finding really opened the door to all of the chiropractic haters to bash away at the profession.
The LA coroner’s office is an appointed position that, in some states, requires little training, to be quite honest. While I am unaware of this particular coroner’s level of training and expertise, this coroner has been under scrutiny for being understaffed and underfunded to mention just a couple of issues. In addition, I would argue that simply because a man or a woman is a county coroner, does not mean they are above being affected by bias or by their profession’s long-held beliefs and teachings. I would say they most certainly are not above influence and, in my opinion, are highly likely to be affected by them. When they are told by their schools, their national and state associations, and their mentors that chiropractors cause strokes, don’t you think they probably believe it?
I would also argue that the coroner likely has little to zero knowledge of the current body of research regarding cervical manipulation and the instance of stroke. How could an educated person aware of the body of literature on the matter decide otherwise?
For years, I have experienced nurses, physician assistants, medical doctors, and others in an online setting claiming that chiropractic adjustments are dangerous and ineffective. A common theme amongst them is, “It happens all of the time.” We see it “all of the time.” Research proves the notion is a lie.
To put it in plain and simple terms, they wonder why someone would undergo a treatment that is so dangerous for absolutely no improvement. Again, this simply shows ignorance in regards to the available research.
Let’s assume that this myth has its base rooted in some sort of fact. Let us be clear. It does not. But, for argument sake, let us say that it does. At that point, we would need to assess the benefits of chiropractic treatment vs. the risks of chiropractic treatment.
In Southern terms, “Is the squeeze worth the push?”
Is there a return on the investment?
Again, this is purely for argument sake because the chiropractors cause strokes myth is not real to start with but playing the devil’s advocate can be of use and is almost always entertaining.
Before we step into deeper water with the research papers, let us discuss benefits & effectiveness vs. risk for some common treatments for spinal complaints in the medical world. If the discussion is focused on doing away with cervical adjustments, what then would be the alternatives and how effective are they? Basically, if the medical field is looking in OUR backyard, maybe we should take a peek into theirs as well.
Keep in mind that all of the research we discuss will be cited in the show notes so that those of you that wish can easily research these independently on your own.
- The opioid crisis cost the US economy $504 billion dollars in 2015 and a total of $221 billion to $431 billion in lost economic output due to there being 33,000 opioid-related deaths in 2015.
- There were 63,600 opioid-related deaths in 2016, which was an increase of 21% from the 2015..
- Chou R, et. al. – Although the steroid injections for radiculopathy showed some short-term relief in pain and short-term increase in function, the benefits seen in the patients were only small and short-term only. There was no effect long-term and no affect on whether or not the person had surgery eventually. The evidence in this paper suggested there was no effectiveness at all for the treatment of spinal stenosis.
- Epstein N, et. al. – “Although not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), injections are being performed with an increased frequency (160%), are typically short-acting and ineffectiveover the longer-term, while exposing patients to major risks/complications.”
- Peterson CK, et. al. – ““Subacute/chronic patients treated with SMT (spinal manipulative therapy) were significantly more likely to report relevant “improvement” compared with CNRI (CERVICAL NERVE ROOT INJECTION) patients.There was no difference in outcomes when comparing acute patients only.”
- Chou R, et. al. – “Epidural corticosteroid injections for radiculopathy were associated with immediate improvements in pain and might be associated with immediate improvements in function, but benefits were small and not sustained, and there was no effect on long-term risk of surgery. Evidence did not suggest that effectiveness varies based on injection technique, corticosteroid, dose, or comparator. Limited evidence suggested that epidural corticosteroid injections are not effective for spinal stenosis or nonradicular back pain and that facet joint corticosteroid injections are not effective for presumed facet joint pain.”
- Chou R, et. al – “Surgery for radiculopathy with herniated lumbar disc and symptomatic spinal stenosis is associated with short-term benefits compared to nonsurgical therapy, though benefits diminish with long-term follow-up in some trials. For nonradicular back pain with common degenerative changes, fusion is no more effective than intensive rehabilitation, but associated with small to moderate benefits compared to standard nonsurgical therapy.”
- Maghout J, et. al. – “Use of intervertebral fusion devices rose rapidly after their introduction in 1996. This increased use was associated with an increased complication risk without improving disability or reoperation rates.”
At this point, it is clear the medical field has its own issues to concentrate on and improve upon when it comes to spinal pain and the treatment of it. It is my opinion these facts are but only a few of the concerns in the medical field and, if taken individually, are much more concerning than any one single issue that can be found within the chiropractic profession.
The biggest yoke they try to put on our necks is the chiropractors cause strokes myth and, considering the research, their concerns should be focused in their own playground.
This is where we are going to stop for this first episode of the Chiropractors cause strokes series. Remember, our” chiropractors cause strokes” series is a three part series.
Be sure to tune in next week for the second part of the three part series. Next week, we will be talking about the benefits, according to research, for neck pain as well as for headaches. And we’ll also talk a little about where this myth came from and why it perpetuates to this day.
You may also consider listening to a recent episode in which we covered some great new research on treating neck pain conservatively through chiropractic care. Check it out at https://www.chiropracticforward.com/2018/03/08/proven-means-to-treat-neck-pain/
Please feel free to send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think about the chiropractors cause strokes myth or what suggestions you may have for us for future episodes.
If you love what you hear, be sure to check out www.chiropracticforward.com. As this podcast builds, so will the website with more content, products, and chances to learn.
We cannot wait to connect again with you next week. From Creek Stone, my office here in Amarillo, TX, home of the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward.
- Debette S, “Pathophysiology and risk factors of cervical artery dissection: what have we learnt from large hospital-based cohorts?”. . Current Opinion in Neurology, 2014. 27(1): p. 20-8.
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- Mutikani L. Opioid crisis cost U.S. economy $504 billion in 2015: White House. 2017; Available from: https://www.reuters.com/article/legal-us-usa-opioids-cost/opioid-crisis-cost-u-s-economy-504-billion-in-2015-white-house-idUSKBN1DL2Q0.
- Glenza J. Life expectancy in US down for second year in a row as opioid crisis deepens. 2017 December 21; Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/21/us-life-expectancy-down-for-second-year-in-a-row-amid-opioid-crisis.
- Chou R, Epidural Corticosteroid Injections for Radiculopathy and Spinal Stenosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med, 2015. 163(5): p. 373-81.
- Epstein N, The risks of epidural and transforaminal steroid injections in the Spine: Commentary and a comprehensive review of the literature. Surg Neurol Int, 2013. 4(Suppl 2): p. S74-93.
- Peterson CK, Symptomatic, Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Confirmed Cervical Disk Herniation Patients: A Comparative-Effectiveness Prospective Observational Study of 2 Age- and Sex-Matched Cohorts Treated With Either Imaging-Guided Indirect Cervical Nerve Root Injections or Spinal Manipulative Therapy. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 2016. 39(3): p. 210-7.
- Chou R, Surgery for low back pain: a review of the evidence for an American Pain Society Clinical Practice Guideline. Spine, 2009. 34(10): p. 1094-109.
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This episode is all about headaches, it highlights one service dressed up and parading around as another sort of like it’s Halloween or something, and we’ll tell some personal stories about what we have seen in practice during our years of service to our patients. It should be a good one.
We are excited to welcome Dr. Tyce Hergert to the Chiropractic Forward podcast. Dr. Hergert has the distinct privilege of being the very first guest that we’ve ever had. Dr. Hergert was the Texas Chiropractic Association President, the head honcho, for 2016/2017 and, under his leadership the TCA was able to get 5 Chiropractic friendly bills through the legislation whereas we had failed to get even one through in all the years prior to that as far back as I had paid any attention so that was quite a feat.
Dr. Hergert is the owner/operator of Chiropractic Care Center of Southlake as well as the owner/operator of Southlake Physical Medicine in Southlake, TX
In addition, Dr. Hergert and myself both grew up in Perryton, TX. He was a couple of years younger than myself but we grew up on the same neighborhood, went to chiropractic school at the same time roughly, and have both served in the Texas Chiropractic Association at the same time. You could say that we know each other.
Welcome to the Chiropractic Forward Podcast Dr. Hergert. How do you feel about being the very first guest that we have ever had?
In this episode, I promise that we’re going to have more fun than being on the receiving end of a purple nurple.
This week, I want to discuss headaches and conservative, alternative headache treatment. It’s common for people to look at chiropractors as “spine people” and “back doctors”.
Is that your experience as well, Dr. Hergert?
What people don’t commonly know is that chiropractors can knock it straight out of the park when it comes to treating headaches. Yes, I said, “Knock it out of the park.” That’s an old metaphor comparing baseball players hitting home runs and I’m telling you, chiropractors mostly hit home runs on headache cases.
I have to admit that I was a terrible baseball player. I played college football and I’m Texan born and raised where football is King so I should probably put it in football terms. In football terms, you might say that we chiropractors have a record of 80-yd touchdown passes when it comes to headaches. We return headache punts for a score almost every time. We pick-six those suckers. That’s probably enough to drive the point home.
Not every single headache of course. I’ve met my match several times over my 20 years in practice. But I don’t think it’s too bold to say that about 80%-90% of headache patients just improve. And not just improve, but DRAMATICALLY improve.
Before we get into the research, let me take a minute to give you just a couple of personal experiences in treating headache patients in my practice here in Amarillo.
Case #1: We will call this patient Andy McFuddlesticks just because I’m feeling a little goofy today. That sounds a little like a Harry Potter character, doesn’t it?
Andy had experienced migraines his whole life and was around 40 years old at the time we crossed paths. He had been to all of the medical doctors. He had endured injections if his suboccipital region. I don’t recall what the injection was exactly because this was about 18 years ago. I don’t believe they did botox for migraines at that point in time. He had gone through nuclear bones scans as well. Andy McFuddlesticks had been through it you might say.
He came to see me only a few times. It was frustrating that he didn’t finish his treatment plan but the reason he didn’t finish is satisfying. Andy only came a handful of times because the headaches were gone. After all of the years and procedures, just a few visits to a very new and green chiropractor made them vanish. How do I know? Well, I was in a civic organization with his brother who confirmed months later that his brother was doing great and had not had a headaches since seeing me. How is Andy 18 years later? I have no idea. I switched towns but I know he did great for a long time and we are putting that one in the “win” column.
Dr. Hergert, would you like to share one of your more memorable headache case stories with us?
Case #2: Sally McGullicutty I believe was her name. Red hair. Irish. Anyway, Sally had migraines for years. I actually knew Sally personally and had been friends for some time. Evidently I was not skilled at getting my message out on how successfully we can deal with headaches because it took Sally way longer than it should have taken her to make an appointment with us.
Sally shared with me that she had migraines, on average, several times a week and once or twice every month would find herself in a dark bathroom floor sitting my the toilet throwing up. How awful of an existence is that? I cannot even imagine being forced to live that way. I say it often but it bears repeating, “Pain can absolutely change a person.” Not only the person but it can change everyone around the person that is consistently in and out of contact with them.
After approximately 2-4 weeks of working with Sally, she just started to not have the migraines anymore! I would say she “magically” recovered but chiropractors know this isn’t accurate. We got the right joints moving, we got the right muscles to relax, and we got out of the way and let the body do the rest. There’s no magic in that. It’s just common sense to chiropractors.
Fast forward a few years and Sally is still a patient and Sally comes here for other reasons and conditions from time to time but she doesn’t visit because of migraines anymore. She just doesn’t have them.
How about one more story Dr. Hergert?
I’m pretty sure we could both absolutely go on and on with examples from personal experience in practice. I have 20 years of dealing with headaches and I can tell you, Chiropractors are modern day headache whisperers.
Let’s dive into a little research just to show you what I’m talking about. There are more we will go over in the future episodes but I want to touch on two this week. One new study and one older.
The first one is the more recent research paper and comes to us from a group in Spain. The lead author was Miguel Malo-Urries, PT, PhD with the University of Zaragoza Aragon Spain and it was published in Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics in the November-December 2017 issue, Volume 40, Issue 9, Pages 649-658. The study was titled “Immediate Effects of Upper Cervical Translatoric Mobilization on Cervical Mobility and Pressure Pain Threshold in Patients With Cervicogenic Headache: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” What a name.
Did you catch that word, “Translatoric?” Dr. Hergert, have you run across this term prior to this interview?
I’m going to define that word for everyone. Translatoric is not commonly in the Chiropractic verbiage or vernacular. At least I don’t recall it from my education at Parker University in Dallas but that was eons ago. I have gray sideburns now. It has been a while. The authors of the paper all have PT behind their names so we have physical therapists setting the terms for the research project. Understanding this, then the use of translatoric makes more sense.
I found a site that gives a pretty good definition of Translatoric Spinal Manipulation. The term Translatoric Spinal Manipulation or TSM “consists of a series of high and low-velocity manipulative spinal techniques, which emphasize the use of small amplitude, straight-line (or translatoric) traction and gliding impulses delivered parallel or perpendicular to an individual vertebral joint or movement segment. Furthermore, TSM emphasizes the use of either direct manual stabilization or the use of spinal pre-positioning to restrict the amount of motion occurring at adjacent spinal segments during the translatoric impulse.” The website goes on to say, “Delivering translatoric impulses (in the form of disc traction, disc glides, facet traction and facet gliding) to an individual joint or spinal motion segment while using stabilization provides the manual therapist with a manipulative tool that has a predictable effect in terms of pain reduction and motion restoration with minimal potential risk of patient injury.”
Do you know what that sounds like to me? Dr. Hergert, what does it sound like it’s describing to you?
It sounds like a “Chiropractic Adjustment.” Another term it sounds like is “Spinal Manipulative Treatment/Therapy.” Something we chiropractors have been doing for over 100 years and have been called crazies and quacks for doing. It sounds like the exact thing that the medical world has touted as being responsible for strokes for years and years. Of course, research proves that they don’t have a clue what they’re talking about on the storke issue but translatoric spinal manipulation is nothing more than a Chiropractic Adjustment.
Now that that is clear, let’s get back into the research.
Why They Did It
The good folks in Spain performing Translatoric Spinal Manipulation rather than Chiropractic Adjustments wished to assess the response in terms of range of motion and pain in patients suffering cervicogenic headaches.
How They Did It
- It was a randomized controlled trial
- The paper included 82 patients.
- The patients ranged in age from about 25-55 or so.
- All patients suffered from cervicogenic headaches.
- The patients were randomly split up into two groups. One was a control group and one was a treatment group.
- The treatment group received Chiropractic Adjustments…..I’m sorry…Translatoric Spinal Manipulation.
- The control group received no treatment or sham treatment.
- The researchers tested Cervical range of motion, they tested the pressure pain thresholds over the upper trapezius muscles, the C2-3 zygapophyseal joints and sub occipital muscles were tested, and the current headache intensity were all measured on the Visual Analog Scale prior to the Chiropractic adjustment and right after.
- The testing was done by two blinded investigators
What They Found
- Afterward, the Chiropractic Adjustment group had significantly increased range of motion in the neck region overall as well as in the flexion-rotation test.
- And, while there was no changes in the pain thresholds, patients reported significantly lower intensity in their headaches!
Wrap It Up
The quote from the authors themselves reads as follows, “Upper cervical translatoric spinal mobilization intervention increased upper, and exhibited a tendency to improve general, cervical range of motion and induce immediate headache relief in subjects with cervicogenic headache.”
Dr. Hergert….do the findings in the study surprise you at all?
What are your initial impressions of the study?
I’d say that, if you have issues with chiropractors, now you can just take it straight from physical therapists with PhD’s that are performing chiropractic adjustments but calling it something else.
I want to be honest here: the frustrating part of this for me isn’t necessarily the fact that PTs are doing cervical chiropractic adjustments. Heck, chiropractors have been doing PT for years but the physical therapists claim ownership of the term so the chiropractic industry just call it exercise rehab.
Although, their doing adjustments may be irritating on some level, the most irritating thing is that a certain aspect of the physical therapy community and a larger aspect of the medical community have spent years ridiculing, mocking, and belittling generations of chiropractors. And now, doctors of osteopathy and physical therapists are trying to do the exact same thing without going through any chiropractic training. You would think they would at least release a statement saying, “You know, we have thrown rocks at chiropractors for years but it turns out they were right all along so, since we can’t beat them, we’re going to just join them.”
Wouldn’t that be refreshing?
Can I get an amen on that Dr. Hergert? Do you have any other thoughts on that?
I’m geting all bothered over here so let’s go over the older study before I start getting too ugly about the whole deal.
This one is by GV Espi-Lopez et. al. and is called, “Do manual therapy techniques have a positive effect on quality of life in people with tension-type headache? A randomized controlled trial.” It was published in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine on February 29th of 2016.
Why They Did It
Although there have been lots of studies that prove the impact of manual therapy and spinal mobilization for frequency and intensity of pain suffered from tension type headaches, there have been no studies in regards to the effectiveness of the same therapies for the quality of life for the people suffering from them.
The authors of this paper wished to focus on patient quality of life.
How They Did It
•The study was again, a randomized, single blinded, controlled clinical trial.
•Comprised of 62 women and 14 men.
•Aged between 65 years old all the way down to 18 years old.
•All subjects suffered from chronic tension type headaches or episodic tension type headaches.
•The subjects were categorized into four separate groups: suboccipital inhibitory pressure, suboccipital spinal manipulation, a combination of the two together, and then a control group.
•An SF–12 questionnaire was used to help assess the subjects’ quality of life at both the beginning of treatment, the ending of the treatment, as well as at the one month follow-up.
What They Found
•The suboccipital inhibition group improved significantly in their quality of life at the one month mark as well as improvements in moderate physical activities.
•Not the control group, but all other treatment groups had an improvement in physical activities, pain, and social functioning at the one month mark.
•After treatment, as well as that the one month mark, the combined treatment category had improved vitality.
•Following treatment and at the one-month mark, both groups that had manipulation to the sub occipital region also showed improved mental health.
Wrap It Up
All three therapy approaches showed significant effectiveness toward improving the quality of life, however the combined treatment therapy had the most dramatic change for the good.
In short, manual therapy techniques and manipulation applied to the sub occipital region for four weeks or more showed great improvement and in effectiveness for several aspects that measure the quality of life of a patient having suffered from tension type headaches.
Dr. Hergert…you like apples? Lol Do these findings reflect what you have seen over the years there in Southlake, TX?
These are just a couple of studies to get us started off on the right foot for headache discussions on the Chiropractic Forward Podcast. There are several more I will be sharing in the future so stay tuned.
When Chiropractic is at its best, you cannot beat the risk vs reward ratio. Plain and simple. Spinal pain is a mechanical pain and responds better to mechanical treatment rather than chemical treatment such as pain killers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories.
I mentioned this in episode #1 but Dr. Hergert and myself spend some time trying to generate a concise, responsible statement regarding chiropractic care in general. A statement that could easily be shared. An elevator speech for the profession if you will. You will find it at the end of every blog, every video, and every chiropractic forward podcast. It is as follows:
Research and clinical experience shows that, in about 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, in comparison to the traditional medical model, patients get good or excellent results with Chiropractic. Chiropractic care is safe, more cost-effective, it decreases your chances of having surgery, and it reduces your chances of becoming disabled. We do this conservatively and non-surgically. In addition, we can do it with minimal time requirements and minimal hassle on the part of the patient. And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward from initial recovery, we can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health!
Thank you to Dr. Hergert for spending his valuable time with us today. We look forward to many more guest appearances.
Please feel free to send us an email at dr dot williams at chiropracticforward.com and let us know what you think or if you have any suggestions for future episodes.
From Creek Stone in Amarillo, TX and the flight deck of the Chiropractic Forward podcast, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, & forward.