Q: What are the risks of having a stroke from chiropractic treatment of the neck?

A: The chance of having a stroke from a chiropractic treatment of the neck is very remote. The medical literature places it at anywhere from one or two in four million treatments. There is no risk of stroke associated with the chiropractic adjustment of the back itself. To put this in perspective, the occurrence of a stroke from receiving a neck manipulation is no greater than the risk from natural movements of the head. For example, the literature has documented cases of stroke through neck movements doing yoga, overhead work, turning the head while driving a car, archery and calisthenics.

Q: Why should I take the chance having my neck manipulated?

A: It is important to note that neck manipulation is often the most beneficial noninvasive approach for neck complaints. Further, compared with the medical procedures for similar conditions, chiropractic neck manipulation has an enviable safety record. For example, the risk of serious complications or death from serious complications attributed to the use of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen) is hundreds of times greater than the use of cervical manipulation, yet people seldom consider this risk at all.

Q: What does the medical profession think of chiropractic?

A: There are many supporters of chiropractic in the medical profession. Doctors across the country refer their patients to chiropractors, many of them go to chiropractors themselves and there are medical clinics which have chiropractors on staff. There are detractors, but there always will be.

Q: What kind of education and training do chiropractors have?

A: Chiropractors are educated as primary contact health care practitioners, with an emphasis on neuromuscular diagnosis and treatment. Preparation for the practice of chiropractic is concentrated on three areas of learning; basic training in the biological and health sciences (anatomy, physiology, histology, biochemistry, clinical and radiological diagnosis); specialized training in the chiropractic discipline (theoretical studies, practice, diagnosis and applications); and extensive clinical training. Becoming a chiropractor in Canada requires a minimum of four to five academic years of study including no less than 4500 hours of classroom instruction and clinical training. Students enrolled in either of the two Canadian chiropractic educational institutions require seven years of post-secondary education to become a chiropractor.

Q: What exactly is a chiropractic adjustment?

A: Chiropractic adjustment is any chiropractic therapeutic procedure that uses controlled force, leverage, direction, strength and speed at a specific joint to restore normal motion and function, relieving muscle spasms, pain and nerve irritation. This controlled thrust moves a joint past its usual range of motion, without exceeding its limits. The term "Adjustment" is used interchangeably with the term "Manipulation".

Q: Is it effective?

A: The scientific literature contains many studies which have found that chiropractic spinal manipulation is the most effective, cost-effective and safest treatment for back pain. These include studies in medical literature, government funded reports as well as expert practice guidelines. Quite simply put, seeing a chiropractor, along with active exercise, is an appropriate action to take when suffering from short-term back or neck pain.

Q: What side effects can I expect?

A: While some discomfort may typically follow an adjustment, in the form of temporary mild pain, it is uncommon to experience side effects. Manipulation performed by a chiropractor is safe and effective. In fact, spinal manipulation is amongst the most researched health care interventions, and studies consistently indicate that it is extraordinarily safe.

Q: What are the risk factors I need to be aware of?

A: Chiropractors are extremely well trained to recognize risk factors for patients. Aggressive treatments are not performed when there is a risk, and the patient is told immediately.

Q: Has the safety of chiropractic been scientifically proven?

A: The scientific literature contains considerable data on the safety of chiropractic treatments. A study commissioned and funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health a few years ago concluded that there is no study that demonstrates or even implies that chiropractic spinal manipulation is unsafe in the treatment of low back pain and that the reading of the literature suggests that chiropractic manipulation is safer than medical management. The scientific literature also indicates that surgery and drugs for similar back and neck conditions carry much more risk and more side effects than do chiropractic manipulations, which are natural, non-invasive and highly effective procedures.

Q: Why do I need several chiropractic treatments to heal completely?

A: The hands-on nature of the treatment is essentially what sends patients back to the chiropractor a number of times. To be treated by a chiropractor, you need to be in his or her office. Often however, the course of treatment from your family physician involves a pre-established plan that you conduct at home such as taking a course of antibiotics for one or two weeks.