Research debunks suggested link between chiropractic and stroke

A study published in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research (JVSR) refutes several recent media reports that chiropractic is linked to a risk of stroke.

The study, “Stroke and Chiropractic: A Review of the Literature” conducted by Dr. Ari Cohn, found serious flaws in research literature often used to support accusations about the dangers of neck adjustments.

The categorization of all manipulation as chiropractic is one of the worst of these flaws.

According to Dr. Cohn: “In the literature, there is a lack of distinction between professions and different styles and techniques of manual procedures, adjusting and manipulating. Medical doctors, osteopaths, physical therapists and chiropractors have different levels of expertise and levels of training in the area of spinal manipulation and adjustment. Although chiropractors perform approximately 94% of all spinal adjustments, it is misrepresentation to include statistics of injuries caused by other professionals, and even non-professionals and refer to the procedures as chiropractic in nature when clearly they are not.”

Another issue involves blaming the cause of a stroke on chiropractic based on the temporal relationship to an adjustment.

“Just because a person had an adjustment a day or two before their stroke does not mean the adjustment caused the stroke. Most people probably drank water the day before the stroke but no one is going to say the water caused the stroke” argued Dr. Cohn.

The New Jersey practitioner also compared the incidence of stroke in the general population versus stroke in people receiving chiropractic care. Noting that the chiropractic group had a lower incidence, Dr. Cohn pointed out “the statistics might indicate that we are actually preventing strokes in our patients as opposed to the other way around.”

Dr. Cohn’s review also compared the risk of common medical procedures to the risk of stroke from cervical adjustment.

“Medical procedures have an inherent risk that the public seems to accept without question. Even a simple venipuncture is many times more dangerous than the risk of stroke from a chiropractic adjustment. These are obvious flaws in logic that people are just not seeing,” he noted.

Commenting on the research report, Dr. Matthew McCoy, editor of the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research said, “A person is more likely to get hit and killed by lightening than suffer an adverse event from a neck adjustment. While the chiropractic profession certainly needs to research its safety and efficacy, I think there are more pressing aspects of health care delivery to worry about.”

Dr. McCoy added that strong political and economic factors frequently provoke a rash of medical articles on the so-called “dangers” of chiropractic.

“Considering that medicine kills more people every six months than died in the Vietnam War should cause people to question whether this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black,” he said.

JVSR is a peer-reviewed scientific journal devoted to subluxation based chiropractic research, affiliated with the World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA), an international organization representing doctors of chiropractic and promoting the traditional, drug-free and non-invasive form of chiropractic as a means of correcting vertebral subluxations that cause nerve interference. For more information, contact the WCA at 800-347-1011 or


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