No Evidence that Chiropractic Causes Stroke According to Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation

Amidst a great deal of emotion and rhetoric coming out of Connecticut this week regarding the stroke issue The Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation has just released a very clear position statement on the issue of chiropractic and strokes.

Atlanta, GA, January 07, 2010 --( According to the Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation there is no human experimental evidence that chiropractic adjustments or neck manipulations are causally related to strokes.

“While plaintiff’s attorneys and expert witness make claims and statements contending that such a causative link exists, the fact remains that these are based largely on anecdotes, case reports, and case controlled studies and cannot be used to prove causation” stated Foundation President Christopher Kent DC, JD a chiropractic researcher and attorney.

According to researchers and the scientific method itself there are all sorts of biases and distortions that effect conclusions drawn from such studies and other criteria must be used to determine whether such a link exists.

“What this boils down to is a simple lack of understanding of biostatistics and epidemiology” stated Foundation Vice President Matthew McCoy DC, MPH, a chiropractic researcher and public health expert. “Words like ‘association’ and ‘causation’ and ‘risk’ have very specific meanings when it comes to their use in epidemiology and it’s clear that laypersons involved in this debate are using these terms inappropriately.”

While the experience of a stroke can be devastating and no one would suggest ignoring the concerns of those who have suffered one, the reality is that when it comes to the contention that chiropractic causes strokes – the evidence just isn’t there. And while the strokes these people have experienced are indeed real, McCoy suggests there are often other issues involved and offered an example. “Millions of people visit a dentist every year and a certain number of those same people get into car accidents on their way home. If we were to run the stats on it we might find that there is a statistical association between visiting a dentist and getting into a car accident on the way home. But no one would even consider suggesting that the dentists are causing the car accidents.”

Self described chiropractic stroke victims say there is a risk and that people should be advised about it prior to undergoing chiropractic care. The majority of chiropractors would agree that patients should be informed of the risks, benefits and alternatives of any health care intervention, but according to Dr. Kent “Such informed consent must be based on appropriate information and since there is no scientific evidence that chiropractic adjustments or neck manipulations actually cause strokes, it is inappropriate to require a doctor to suggest that such a risk exists.”

Dr. McCoy added another often overlooked issue “Chiropractors utilize a number of techniques to address joint dysfunction and vertebral subluxation and in fact there are over 300 named chiropractic techniques and many do not employ the type of manipulation that has been alleged to be a factor in vertebrobasilar accidents. This adds to the inappropriate nature of such a disclosure.”

In the end, chiropractic has an impressive safety record compared to traditional medical care with estimates are that anywhere from 100,000 (Institute of medicine) to 750,000 (Null et al) people die every year from medical care. In comparison, other than some minor soreness following chiropractic treatment, research has shown chiropractic to be very safe.

Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation
Matthew McCoy, DC, MPH