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CF 015: DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 3 of 3)

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.

CF 014: DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 2 of 3)

DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes Revisited

Part 2 of 3

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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.

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.

  1. 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[1].”
  2. 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[2].”
  3. 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[3].”
  4. 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[4].”
  5. 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%[5].”
  6. Yu H, et. al. – “Chiropractic management of atlantoaxial osteoarthritis yielded favorable outcomes for these 10 patients[6].”
  7. 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[7].”
  8. 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[8].”
  9. 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[9].”
  10. 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[10].”
  11. Zhu L, et. al. – “There was moderate level evidence to support the immediate effectiveness of cervical spine manipulation in treating people with cervical radiculopathy[11].”
  12. 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[12].”
  13. 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[13].”

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.

In fact, I have an episode of this podcast that dealt with a paper showing the effectiveness of chiropractic for headaches. Episode #6 to be exact.

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

  1. 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[14].”
  2. 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[15].”
  3. 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[3].”
  4. 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[16].”
  5. 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[17].”
  6. 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[18].
  7. 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[19].”
  8. 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[20].”

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.

KEY TAKEAWAY:

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:

CF Episode #13: DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 1 of 3)

Source Material

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  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.
  8. Miller J, Manual therapy and exercise for neck pain: a systematic review. Man Ther, 2010. 15(4): p. 334-54.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Bronfort G, Efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic headache: a systematic review. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 2001. 24(7): p. 457-466.
  18. Bronfort G, Effectiveness of manual therapies: The UK evidence report. Chiropr Osteopat, 2010. 18(3).
  19. 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.
  20. McCrory D, Behavioral and Physical Treatments for Tension-type and Cervicogenic Headache. Duke University Evidence-based Practice Center, Center for Clinical Health Policy Research.


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CF 013: DEBUNKED: The Odd Myth That Chiropractors Cause Strokes (Part 1 of 3)

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.

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.

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!

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.)
  • Strangulation
  • 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[1]. “

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
  • Hiccups
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Hearing loss

When one reads this list, it is easy to diagnose a VAD, right?

It rarely presents with these classic signs.

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[2].”

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.

I would like to be less dramatic or inflammatory in my wording but I do not know of another way to describe it.

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[3].
  • There were 63,600 opioid-related deaths in 2016, which was an increase of 21% from the 2015.[4].
  • 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[5].
  • 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[6].”
  • 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[7].”
  • 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[5].”
  • 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[8].”
  • 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[9].”

 

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.

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.

 

References

  1. 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.
  2. Lang E. Vertebral Artery Dissection. Emergency Medicine 2017 January 18]; Available from: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/761451-overview.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Maghout J, e.e., Lumbar fusion outcomes in Washington State workers’ compensation. Spine (Phila Pa 1976), 2006. 31(23): p. 2715-23.

CF 007: Awesome Alternatives To High Blood Pressure Treatment

In today’s podcast, we are going to talk about high blood pressure, what happens, how many people it affects, and what we may be able to do to help it. Today is all about high blood pressure and I’m going to admit to you….in researching for this week’s podcast, even I learned new things about high blood pressure and I’m betting you will too. If you love what you hear, be sure to check out www.chiropracticforward.com. As this podcast builds, so will the website as we add more content, educational products, and a little further down the road, webinars, seminars, and speaking dates as they get added.

Welcome to the podcast today, Dr. Jeff Williams here with Creek Stone here in Amarillo, TX and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast where we talk about issues related to health, chiropractic, evidence, and research and how those things all fit into a comprehensive approach for treating different conditions. Thank you for taking time out of your day to give us a listen. I know your time is valuable and I will always try hard to fill our time with valuable content.

You have fallen head first into episode #7 this week and I want to welcome you. We are going to have more fun that headbutting an i-beam..which I actually did on accident one time when I was a kid. I was running away from someone while playing tag and was looking over my shoulder wrhen smack…now I have a scare on the side of my noggin 35-40 years later. This is how I am certain we will have more fun with this episode.

Speaking of fun, with this being a brand new podcast, I can’t tell you how much fun it is to check the stats of the show and see people tuning in and finding value in our ideas and in information we have to share with you.

I think it is responsible to start off with a disclaimer: I am not a cardiologist. I am a research-minded, evidence-based Doctor of Chiropractic that has seen a jillion people with high blood pressure throughout a 20-year career. The ideas and discussion to follow will be based on information derived from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from the American Heart Institute, and from information shared through Dr. Stephen Sinatra of New York, who is a cardiologist and founder of the New England Heart Center. Ultimately, your blood pressure and heart health is something your primary practitioner and/or cardiologist should be monitoring consistently. Our intent here is not to “treat” anyone through the internet but to simply raise awareness and encourage you to pay attention and take steps to protect yourself if needed. Do not simply depend on information from the internet or Dr. Google as I call it. If you are suffering from high blood pressure (or think you might be) make an appointment with your primary today.

Now that we’ve taken care of that, let’s get going with an easy definition of high blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is when your blood pressure, the force of the blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently too high.

I want to tell you all why, at times, I should have high blood pressure. It’s because I have a teenager. Yes, I have a 15 year old high school kid and he’s why. Lol. Not really, as far as teenagers go, he could be soooo much worse. Other than his need to be right conflicting with my need to be right, he’s a sweetheart.

Other reasons may be a busted pipe in the pool house when we had a major freeze. I know I know…first world problems… I happen to be the owner of a european great dane…..enough said. That girl can tear some stuff up when she gets bored.

I also have a huge Leonberger dog. Look it up. They’re beautiful but the hair…I’m telling you, it’s a job to stay clean. I could make cushions out of the amount of hair that dog generates.

The animals at my house at this point would include two dogs, a cat (not my choice), two guineas, and two turtles..and that doesn’t even include my 10 year old daughter and my teenage son… I probably have some mice too if I’m guessing right.

Not to mention I’m an actively practicing chiropractor running a busy practice and all of the stressors that come with it. Own your own business they said, be your own boss they said….you’ll be able to do whatever you want. Heck, I don’t have time to think twice and I certainly don’t have a lot of time to sit around and generate content. I’m busy humpin it and making a living. I’m not out on the lecture circuit just yet and having dinner and a drink in the hotel bar. Lol. I’m at work all day every day. I have stress people!! That’s all I’m saying.

But seriously, I have actually been very fortunate and have not had to battle with high blood pressure yet. Thank the good Lord. I am just lucky I think.

From personal experience in treating patients, I have seen new patients having blood pressure counts of 200 over 110 before and they had NO IDEA their blood pressure was high. What does a chiropractor do in that instance? You may get different ideas from different chiropractors but I can tell you what THIS chiropractor does in those cases. I send them either directly to their primary practitioner or the urgent care, whichever they prefer. I won’t touch them as far as chiropractic treatment until the blood pressure is under control.

There is research we will discuss in a minute showing chiropractic is effective in controlling high blood pressure but I will not be the one trying to get it down when it is at that level. I’ll be the one trying to help once it’s normalized. That is simply my opinion and the way I choose to go about things in my practice. As I said, other chiropractors likely have other opinions and protocols.

Next, let’s discuss some high blood pressure facts from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention that you may not already know about concerning WHO is commonly affected:

  • Did you know that about 75 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure? That’s about a third of the population. Another way of saying that is that 1 in every 3 people have high blood pressure. 
  • Unfortunately, only about half of the people with high blood pressure have the condition under control.
  • About 11 million adults in America have high blood pressure and don’t even know it.
  • High blood pressure costs America around $46 Billion every year when you account for the cost of health care services, medications, and days out of work.
  • High blood pressure affects women about as much as it affects men overall but under the age of 45, more men are affected. Over the age of 65, more women have the condition.
  • When we look at race, more black people have high blood pressure than do whites and Hispanics, and of the black people having it, more women are affected than men.
  • Women having high blood pressure that then become pregnant are more likely to have complications.
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure during the midlife phase (45-65) seems to be linked to higher risks of dementia later in life.

Here are some of those random facts that you may be able to use in a game of Trivial Pursuit somewhere down the line:

  • Did you know that too little salt can contribute to high blood pressure? We commonly associate an excess of salt with high blood pressure but too little is an issue as well. According to Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a cardiologist from New York, it seems a good mix is keeping more than 1.8 grams of salt a day in your body while keeping sodium below 2.8 mg/day while keeping a close eye on hidden salts that can be found in canned soups, pickles, salted nuts, etc.
  • Potassium plays a part in healthy blood pressure so it’s likely a good idea to foods like eggplant, squash, bananas, coconut water, and baked potatoes.
  • It’s a good idea to have the blood pressure taken in both arms since the numbers are often different from one arm to the other.
  • Cardio is great but weight training can RAISE blood pressure. If you like to lift weights but suffer from high blood pressure, it would probably be a great idea to lift much lighter with higher reps in an attempt to bring down those numbers.

Now let’s talk about some of the causes of high blood pressure in patients:

  • Emotional stress
  • Being overweight
  • Environmental toxins
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Too much salt as well as too little salt
  • More than one or two drinks of alcohol per day.
  • Age
  • Genetics

What risks do you run when leaving your high blood pressure untreated or uncontrolled? As unpleasant as it may be to discuss, it can be as serious as you may have imagined. Here are the potential outcomes of untreated high blood pressure:

  • The CDC states that over 360,000 U.S. citizens died of high blood pressure in 2013 which totals about 1,000 deaths every single day.
  • High blood pressure increases your risk of having a heart attack, of having a stroke, of having long-lasting heart failure, and of having kidney disease.

Here’s brand new and very interesting research paper I wanted to take the time to discuss. It’s by AP Wong and is titled “Review: Beyond conventional therapies: Complementary and alternative medicine in the management of hypertension: An evidence-based review(1).”

Why They Did It

The authors state that high blood pressure is responsible for about 12.8% of all deaths globally. Considering that staggering fact, the World Health Organization has targeted a 25% reduction in high blood pressure by the year 2025 and has encouraged more evidence and research into non-conventional methods of controlling high blood pressure.

How They Did It

  • The authors of the paper had two main objectives

1. Describe the therapeutic modalities commonly used in treating high blood pressure.

2. Review the current level of evidence that has been attained for each.

  • The researchers used a search from 2005-2013 of the databses MEDLINE, The Cochrane Library, PUBMED, and EMBASE.
  • 23 papers were found and accepted.
  • Modalities identified in the 23 papers were fish oil, qigong, yoga, coenzyme Q10, melatonin, meditation, vitamin D, vitamin C, monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary amino-acids, chiropractic, osteopathy, folate, inorganic nitrate, beetroot juice, beetroot bread, magnesium, and L-arginine.

What They Found

The following therapies had weak to no evidence for effectiveness in treating high blood pressure:

  • Fish oil
  • Yoga
  • Vitamin D
  • Monounsaturated fatty acid
  • Dietary amino-acids
  • Osteopathy

The following therapies showed significant reduction in blood pressure:

  • Chiropractic
  • Magnesium
  • Qigong
  • Melatonin
  • Meditation
  • Vitamin C
  • Folate
  • Inorganic nitrate
  • Beetroot juice
  • L-arginine

Coenzyme Q10 has differing results. Some studies showed it had weak to no effectiveness while other studies showed it to have significant effect on the reduction of high blood pressure.

Wrap It Up

In a quote from the authors conclusion, they said, “Results from this review suggest that certain non-conventional therapies may be effective in treating hypertension and improving cardiac function and therefore considered as part of an evidence-based approach.”

With all of the information combined from the articles used as source material, including the research paper, the Alternative means of treating high blood pressure may include:

  • CHIROPRACTIC – we will talk more about this in just a moment
  • Coenzyme Q10 – More discussion on Coenzyme Q10 later.
  • Magnesium
  • Ribose
  • L-arginine
  • RestricT carbohydrates
  • Use olive oil – consider adopting the use of the Mediterranean Pan-Asian diet which is a non-inflammatory diet.
  • Cutting sugar out of your diet is crucial for those suffering from high blood pressure.
  • Less alcohol is best but a glass of wine a day has shown benefits.
  • No processed juices from the grocery store. They’re packed full of useless and damaging sugars.
  • Exercise protocols
  • Lose weight – only a five pound reduction can make a difference
  • Stop smoking!
  • Qigong
  • Melatonin
  • Meditation
  • Vitamin C
  • Folate
  • Inorganic nitrate
  • Beetroot juice

Besides this study, there are several other suggesting Chiropractic plays an important role in reducing or controlling blood pressure.

In one from 1988 by Yates, et. al. called “Effects of chiropractic treatment on blood pressure and anxiety: a randomized, controlled trial,” they showed how anxiety and blood pressure were significantly reduced following chiropractic treatment(2).

In another very interesting study through the University of Chicago Medicine from March 14, 2007, and led by George Bakris, MD (director of the hypertension center at the University of Chicago Medical Center, researchers did the following:

  • They took 50 Chicago-area citizens having high blood pressure.
  • All had misaligned C1 vertebrae measured on x-ray
  • They were randomly divided into a treatment group consisting of a chiropractic adjustment and a sham group where no treatment was actually performed.
  • The participants were assessed at the beginning of treatment, after the chiropractic adjustment, and at the end of eight weeks.

What They Found

The authors stated that the improvement in blood pressure for both systolic and diastolic were similar to that seen when giving patients two different blood pressure medications at the same time. Not only that, but the reduction in the blood pressure continued in the eighth week!

Wow!!!

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.

Just another reason to call a chiropractor TODAY!

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!

Please feel free to send us an email at dr.williams@chiropracticforward.com and let us

know what you think or if you have any suggestions for future episodes. And remember

to help us spread the word by sharing our podcast with your colleagues, your friends,

and your family.

From Creek Stone in Amarillo, TX and the flight deck of the Chiropractic Forward

podcast, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, & forward.

Research Citations

(1) Wong AP, et al. “Review: Beyond conventional therapies: Complementary and alternative medicine in the management of hypertension: An evidence-based review.” Pak J Pharm Sci. 2018 Jan;31(1):237-244.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/29348109/

(2) Yates RG, et. al. “Effects of chiropractic treatment on blood pressure and anxiety: a randomized, controlled trial.” J Manip Physical Ther. 1988 Dec;11(6):484-8.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3075649

(3) Bakris, G. Journal of Human Hypertension, advance online publication, March 2, 2007. Grassi, G. Journal of Human Hypertension, advance online publication, January 25, 2007.George Bakris, MD, director, hypertension center, University of Chicago. Marshall Dickholtz Sr., DC, Chiropractic Health Center, Chicago.

http://www.uchospitals.edu/news/2007/20070314-atlas.html

Other Source Material:

https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/features/highbloodpressure/index.html

https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/The-Facts-About-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_002050_Article.jsp#.WmYUYyOZNBw

https://www.drsinatra.com/6-surprising-blood-pressure-facts-everyone-should-know