Chiropractic: Safe & Effective

Medical Study Demonstrates Chiropractic Safety for Neck Adjustments

A study published in the scientific medical journal “Spine” notes the safety of chiropractic. The article published in the October 2007 issue of the journal was titled, “Safety of Chiropractic Manipulation of the Cervical Spine: A Prospective National Survey”. The study was a prospective national survey designed to, “estimate the risk of serious and relatively minor adverse events following chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine by a sample ofU.K.chiropractors.”

The authors admitted that the risk of any serious side effects to chiropractic care was relatively unknown to them and the medical community. The chiropractic profession has long noted that the malpractice rates for the chiropractic profession at large, a possible indicator for injury from care, were considerably lower than any other medical health care providers.

This study looked at the outcomes from 19,722 chiropractic patients who had received some form or another of neck adjustments that they referred to as “chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine.” The researchers reviewed a total of 50,276 neck adjustments and looked to see if there were any serious side effects from the chiropractic care. They defined serious effects to be those that resulted in the need to be referred to a hospital, or that caused a worsening of symptoms immediately after treatment and/or resulted in persistent or significant disability or incapacity.

The results as quoted in the study were that, “There were no reports of serious adverse events.” Researchers did not find any serious adverse effects in any of the subjects they studied. They also noted that this is the first medical study of its kind by stating, “Safety of treatment interventions is best established with prospective surveys, and this study is unique in that it is the only prospective survey on such a large scale specifically estimating serious adverse events following cervical spine manipulation.”

Researchers noted the safety advantage between chiropractic care and drug care by saying, “The risk rates described in this study compare favorably to those linked to drugs routinely prescribed for musculoskeletal conditions in general practice.” They summed up their findings when they stated, “On this basis, this survey provides evidence that cervical spine manipulation is a relatively safe procedure when administered by registered U.K.chiropractors.”


Another Study Shows Safety of Chiropractic

A research article published on August 3, 2010 in the journal, Chiropractic & Osteopathy, further shows the safety of chiropractic adjustments. The article itself was a review of numerous other studies done recently that looked at the chances of adverse events from chiropractic care.

One of the studies reviewed looked at the effectiveness of chiropractic for neck pain. In this additional study, published on July 9, 2010 in the journal Chiropractic & Osteopathy, authors noted that there were no serious adverse events among the subjects and that all minor events were resolved within 1 to 3 days.

One of the largest studies reviewed in this research article was one by a Dr. Cassidy and his colleagues inCanada. In this study, the researchers looked at official Canadian health records and reviewed 109,020,875 person-years of cases over a period of nine years. This study was so well constructed that it ruled out other factors so as to leave their conclusions unapproachable. The results of this study showed that the odds of a vascular adverse event occurring within 24 hours of a visit to a primary care physician was virtually the same as the chances of it occurring within 24 hours of a visit to a chiropractor.

Detractors of chiropractic have recently mounted a well funded campaign to try to scare the general public into believing that chiropractic carries a serious risk of arterial problems. This study, reporting on several others shows that in fact chiropractic is as safe, or safer than visits to general practitioners.

The size and funding of those trying to suggest that the safest health profession is somehow dangerous has led some to question the motives of those backing and funding the campaign of disinformation. A recent release from the International Chiropractors Association stated, “This smear campaign has little to do with public safety and everything to do with the old turf war between chiropractic and our old competitors,” said Dr. Robert Braile, a chiropractor from Marietta, Georgia, and former president of theICA. Dr. Braile continued, “It is of course a tragic event when any patient suffers a serious health issue, whether under chiropractic care or medical care.” Braile then asserted, But to take advantage of those events in order to distort truth for a turf war is wrong.”


Nurses Give Chiropractic High Marks

A survey of 1000 nurses showed that even though they consider themselves poorly trained in non-medical care, they gave chiropractic high marks. The survey was published in the June 2001 issue of the Journal of Community Health. The survey asked a variety of questions on a number of health care procedures termed by the study as “Complementary Alternative Medicine” (CAM). Chiropractic was included in this survey and received some of the best reviews from the nurses surveyed.

The Journal article starts by stating, “In 1997, 42 percent of the American adult population made 629 million visits to alternative health care practitioners and spent $27 billion out-of-pocket for these services. It has been estimated that in the year 2000, Americans will spend $60 billion on complementary and alternative medical therapies.” The Journal uses these figures as a basis for wanting to understand how the nurses view these types of procedures.

The survey to the nurses covered areas including, perceived effectiveness; perceived safety; recommendations made to friends, clients and associates; and personal use. An interesting finding of the study was that the nurses felt that they themselves were poorly trained in understanding CAM procedures as only 21% of the respondents considered themselves to have received “good” or “excellent” professional preparation in dealing with these types of care, which include chiropractic. Conversely, the vast majority (79%) of nurses perceived their professional preparation in the area of alternative and complementary medical therapies to be fair or poor.

In the area of effectiveness, the nurses ranked chiropractic first, in a tie with biofeedback. They overwhelmingly rejected the idea that chiropractic or the otherCAMprocedures were only effective because of the placebo effect. According to the nurses chiropractic ranked second in safety behind hypnotherapy.

The study also showed that approximately 14% of the nurses surveyed had used chiropractic themselves. Even more surprising is that the study revealed that nearly one quarter (23%) of the nurses said they “periodically” or “regularly” recommend chiropractic care to their friends, patients and associates, while another 27% said they recommend it occasionally. Apparently, as the survey results suggest, the more knowledge of CAM procedures such as chiropractic the nurses had, the more likely they were to use them themselves and refer others to them.

Of Risk and Rates and Chiropractic

From: The Philadelphia Inquirer; Posted on Monday, June 9, 2003

I’ve never been to a chiropractor because I was afraid of the ‘cracking’ of my neck and back might hurt me. My friend has been seeing a chiropractor for years and swears by him. She says that the proof they are safe is that chiropractors pay a whole lot less for malpractice insurance than doctors do. Is she correct?

Yes, chiropractors pay a lot less than physicians do for malpractice insurance. On average, they pay $1,000 to $1,500 annually. Physicians pay many thousands more annually for insurance. Internal medicine doctors pay $12,000 to $30,000 annually, depending upon how many procedures they do. Surgeons, such as orthopedists, gynecologists, neurosurgeons and obstetricians may, in some cases, pay upwards of $80,000 to $100,000 per year. These are premiums based upon a clean history of no lawsuits. If there have been any lawsuits directed against a physician or chiropractor, these rates will be even higher.

Due mostly to larger and more frequent lawsuit settlements (not the bear stock market as some might believe), malpractice premiums have been rising at rate of 25% to 40% a year. Chiropractors (WHO ARE DOCTORS) still enjoy relatively cheap malpractice premiums.

If chiropractors were frequently causing broken bones and paralysis from adjustments, one would assume that there would be huge lawsuits resulting from injury. This would be reflected in the malpractice premiums they pay. The fact that most chiropractors enjoy low rates should be clear evidence of their safety record.

*Mitchell Hecht is a physician specializing in internal medicine.


America’s number one choice for health care

Dr. David M. Eisenberg, director for alternative medicine research and education at Harvard Medical Center, stated that, “In 1997, Americans spent more than $30 billion on alternative therapies like chiropractic, herb supplements, massage and acupuncture – most of it out of pocket. Each year, patients make nearly 2oo million more visits to complimentary providers than primary care physicians in the U.S.”

It is important to note that, of those 200 million more visits, the majority were made to chiropractic offices making chiropractic the #1 choice for “health” care in the U.S.

Archives of Internal Medicine

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, combined with the results of a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, may finally put an end to the question of how chiropractic affects the cost of health care, and whether it is more effective than traditional medical procedures for the treatment of back pain. Dr. Douglas Mertz, co-investigator on the paper, commented, “Our study shows that systematic access to managed chiropractic care may prove to be not only clinically beneficial, but can reduce key cost factors that drive up employee health costs in traditional care settings.”

The study showed that there was a 12% reduction in overall annual costs incurred by the health plan for members with chiropractic coverage. Lower costs were also seen in annual per-capita hospital costs and ambulatory services. The average cost per back pain episode for patients with chiropractic coverage was 28 % lower than for back pain patients without chiropractic coverage. Back pain patients with chiropractic coverage had a 41% reduction in hospitalizations for back pain, a 37% reduction in MRI scans, a 23% reduction in the use of X-rays, and a 32% reduction in the incidence of back surgery compared to the patients who did not have chiropractic insurance coverage.

Results of HMO Study in Illinois Comparing Long Term Benefits of Clients Choosing Chiropractors vs. a Medical Doctor or Osteopath As a Primary Care Physician

Those who chose chiropractors evidenced:

  • 60.2% decrease in hospital admissions
  • 59% decrease in hospital stays
  • 62% decrease in outpatient surgeries and procedures
  • 85% reduction in pharmaceutical costs compared to normative values


Senior Citizens Having “Maintenance Care” For 5 Years or Longer

  • 50% fewer medical provider visits
  • 31% of the national average for health care services
  • 95.8% felt care “considerably” or “extremely” valuable

Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics 2000, 23 (1):10

Chiropractic Influence on Oxidative Stress and DNA Repair

Chiropractors collaborating with researchers at the Univ. of Lund found that chiropractic care could influence basic physiological processes affecting oxidative stress and DNA repair. These findings offer a scientific explanation for the positive health benefits reported by patients receiving chiropractic care. (Medical News Today, Mar. 7, 2005)


Chicago Study Documents Effectiveness of Upper Cervical Adjustment in Reducing Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Patients

A pilot study by the University of Chicago has documented that one chiropractic adjustment of a misaligned Atlas vertebra significantly reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension. The study was published in the March 2, 2007 issue of the online Journal of Human Hypertension.

According to lead author George Bakris, MD, director of the hypertension center at the University of Chicago Medical Center, anecdotal reports have linked blood pressure and neck pain for years.

In commenting on the study’s results, Dr. Bakris said, “We were shocked to find out that we got more than double what we expected in blood pressure reduction.” Patients who received the chiropractic adjustments in this study, he said, did not need to resume taking blood pressure medicine as the effect lasted for months.

These findings are significant as they further demonstrate the benefits of chiropractic care which go beyond back pain, neck pain and headaches.


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