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SOURCE:   A Chiro.Org Editorial

There are certain accusations that are impossible to respond to, without sounding like a guilty party, trying to weasel out of a tight spot.

The accusation that chiropractic somehow “causes stroke” is one such unsupported and yet impossible-to-defend claim.

The simple truth is that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to demonstrate that chiropractic adjusting in the cervical region has ever “caused” a stroke.

Here’s a simple example of how flawed that logic is:

If I sneeze, and there is a traffic accident down the street, it may be convenient to claim that the sneeze “caused” the accident (especially if you stand to benefit financially from that claim), but where is the evidence?

Applying the scientific method, to determine the causal relationship between these 2 unrelated events, might propose an experiment…   sneeze a hundred (or thousand) times, and then count the number of accidents.   That is the scientific method in a nutshell.

In Court cases spinal adjusting has been referred to as the “proximal event” for people who experienced a stroke, but rigorous scientific studies have repeatedly demonstrated that the forces involved in spinal “manipulation” were considerable lower than those required to damage a vertebral artery.   So…there’s absolutely no “proof”. [1–4]

In the first of these cited studies, researchers did exactly what I suggest:

One thousand repeat strain cycles mimicking SMT did not cause microdamage in arterial tissue.” [1]

The Stroke and Chiropractic Page contains numerous studies that demonstrate that chiropractic care is orders of magnitude safer than any medical treatment for the identical complaint.

That still doesn’t stop the medical and insurance establishment from making false accusations, just to improve their bottom line.   Although we all work in the healthcare industry, profits usually dictate strategy.   Make the other guy look bad, and increase your own market share.

Chiropractors have the lowest cost for Malpractice Insurance of any of the healing professions for one very good reason, and that’s because of the amazing safety of chiropractic care.

Ask any accountant…   it’s impossible to argue with statistics!


  1. Microstructural Damage in Arterial Tissue Exposed to Repeated Tensile Strains
    J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2010 (Jan); 33 (1): 14–19

  2. Vertebral Arteries and Cervical Rotation: Modeling and Magnetic Resonance Angiography Studies
    J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2002 (Jul); 25 (6): 370-383

  3. Association of Internal Carotid Artery Dissection and Chiropractic Manipulation
    Neurologist 2003 (Jan); 9 (1): 35–44 ~ FULL TEXT

  4. Response to Vertebral Artery Dissection Study:Synopsis Paper by Smith et al. Published in May 13, 2003 Issue of Neurology
    Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research

About the Author:

I was introduced to Chiro.Org in early 1996, where my friend Joe Garolis helped me learn HTML, the "mark-up language" for websites. We have been fortunate that journals like JMPT have given us permission to reproduce some early important articles in Full-Text format. Maintaining the Org website has been, and remains, my favorite hobby.


  1. Harold Schmidt September 21, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I was immediately drawn to the title of this post and wondered what on earth it had to do with the chiropractic practice. However, you tied it all together perfectly to make a very valid point. People will always try to put blame on something other than the actual cause, especially (like you said), if they stand to benefit financially from it.

  2. This is one of those things that “I’ve moved on.” I can’t believe they’re trying to still make this an issue. I think in a world where there is ever increasing corruption and medical mistakes this is looked at as a non issue, even to lay people.

  3. Eugene Chiropractic September 26, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I love when I read the articles where they try make this look like an issue and yet, they can only find a couple of dozen (possibly related) cases over the last 40-60 years.

  4. karl September 26, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    At the sametime the medical/physical community are blaming/associating chiropractic HVLA manipulation with CVA’s. they are being trained in HVLA cervical manipulation. I’m not naive to overlook that certain attorney groups that lick their chops when they represent a client that experienced a stroke and received chiropractic treatment. we can’t let the medical community, health care insurance and legal community have it both ways.

  5. Luigi Albano October 5, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    I had a 39 year old male present to my office 14months ago with severe neck spasm and headache. He had been in for the past 8 years for recurrent neck and low back pain. He did not say it was the worst headache ever but that it was the stiffest ever. I barely examined him as he was too stiff to perform any of the tests for the neck. I did laser therapy on his neck and middle traps. Told him to come in next day. He did, no change so I told him to see his MD, I was not going to adjust him(had a feeling). He went to his MD, got xrays and ibuprofen. Saw me the day after with a minor improvement. I still did the laser as I was not comfortable adjusting him. 2 weeks later his sister tells me he had 2 strokes the night after I saw him last. Had I adjusted him, wow, we all know who would have been to blame!

  6. Jeff Clark DC October 13, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    People stroke – with or without seeing a chiropractor… it’s a numbers game, anything can be linked to anything.

  7. seattle chiropractor November 8, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    The cause and effect are not related. Most people probably drove a car or walked up a few stairs the day before a stroke but no one is saying that driving a car or climbing stairs causes a stroke. There is not an increased risk for stroke among chiropractic patients. However, the same can’t be said for conventional medicine. How many drug labels warn against an increased risk for stroke?

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