34-year old Katie May died after visiting a chiropractor last February. The coroner calls it an “accident” that she suffered an “infarction of the brain, a type of stroke, and a vertebral artery dissection” due to neck manipulation. Chiropractors regularly do neck manipulation – not by accident.
The model hurt her neck and went to a chiropractor, as many do, to get help. This treatment, typically sharp twists of the neck, caused a blunt force injury, tearing her left vertebral artery, and cutting off blood flow to her brain, according to the death certificate reported on by entertainment news and gossip site TMZ. The family may be considering legal action.
This type of claim, that chiropractic caused a serious, potentially deadly, health situation is somewhat rare but certainly not unique. Neck trauma has been reported multiple times and is a real risk of chiropractic that is too often not made known to those who undergo the therapy. This study [PDF] recounts the experiences of 36 patients who experienced the effect. A 30-yr old Oklahoma man died after chiropractic treatment. The autopsy reports the cause was acute cerebellar infarction due to manipulation of the neck. An Alabama man received a jury-awarded settlement after he suffered a post-chiropractic stroke. He also said he was not told of the risk. Another man noticed serious symptom after a chiropractic neck adjustment and collapsed due to a stroke. Sandra Nettles, a 40-yr old Canadian woman sued after suffering a stroke after rapid neck manipulation which nearly paralyzed her. She not only wrote a book about it but her case caused the province of Manitoba to consider banning the practice. Hercules TV actor Kevin Sorbo also attributed his stroke to chiropractic manipulation.
Neck manipulation, and possibly all of chiropractic, is considered medically unnecessary. Why take the risk in getting a dangerous therapy when there is even a small potential it can cause you serious harm? Don’t let the chiropractor crack your neck. Better yet, ditch the chiro altogether. Seek science-based medical care instead, one that has some evidence that it can work.
Hopefully, this tragedy leads to the eventual banning of chiropractic neck adjusting.
Tip: Dr. Hagen