Chiropractic Treatment Can Lead to Injury and Death
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It’s not uncommon to hear people swear by their chiropractor. Back pain is an unfortunately widespread problem, with a study in 2010 ranking it as the third most burdensome health problem in the United States.
People with chronic back or neck pain may have to take time off work, alter their lifestyle, or avoid doing hobbies they enjoy. With so many people suffering with back pain, it’s probably no surprise that so many people visit chiropractors for adjustments. While some people say chiropractic treatments help ease their chronic pain, others say they receive no benefit from the treatment.
Additionally, some experts question whether chiropractic care is truly safe. In recent years, there have been some alarming cases in which people have suffered serious injuries and even death after chiropractic treatment. These tragic incidents have led some to warn people of the risk of medical malpractice related to chiropractic adjustments. If you’re considering chiropractic treatment, it’s important to understand the potential risks.
What Is Chiropractic Medicine?
Chiropractors are not medical doctors. Although they’re required to earn a four-year degree before attending a chiropractic college, they aren’t trained as medical doctors. Instead, they attend a chiropractic professional school, which is typically four years.
Every state in the country requires chiropractic colleges to be accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education. After finishing chiropractic school, they must pass a licensing exam before they’re permitted to treat patients.
Additionally, some chiropractors may choose to specialize in certain areas, such as sports medicine. If they choose to pursue a specialty, they may have to complete a residency that lasts one or two years.
As WebMD states, “Chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments, the theory being that proper alignment of the body’s musculoskeletal structure, particularly the spine, will enable the body to heal itself without surgery or medication. Manipulation is used to restore mobility to joints restricted by tissue injury caused by a traumatic event, such as falling, or repetitive stress, such as sitting without proper back support.”
Most people are familiar with the adjustments chiropractors perform. They may place patients in certain positions, and then use a quick jerking motion to adjust the patient’s body or limbs to achieve a “proper alignment” of the bones and joints. According to the American Chiropractic Association, about 20 million people see a chiropractor each year. Treatments can vary, and chiropractic practitioners offer over 100 different types of chiropractic methods.
Bad Outcomes with Chiropractic Treatment
Sadly, there have been cases in which patients have sustained serious injury after seeing a chiropractor. In one case, a 41-year-old woman suffered a series of strokes after a chiropractor adjusted her neck. Emergency medical workers had to rush her to the hospital, where doctors placed a shunt in her head to relieve swelling in her brain. The strokes left her with paralysis on one side of her throat, as well as blindness in her left eye.
In a 2010 study, researchers found 26 cases of deaths caused by chiropractic manipulation. In those cases, patients died due to a tear in a vertebral artery. In a 2007 survey published in medical journals between 2001 and 2006, results showed that “spinal manipulation, particularly when performed on the upper spine, is frequently associated with mild to moderate adverse effects. It can also result in serious complications such as vertebral artery dissection followed by stroke.”
In another case, a fashion model died after suffering a stroke following a visit to a chiropractor. Experts say the chiropractor who treated her could have been overly aggressive, which led to torn arteries. Another expert, a medical doctor, said he doesn’t recommend chiropractic treatment for people who have spinal issues, such as spinal cord or nerve compression. Instead, medical experts recommend physical therapy for people experiencing back pain.
Experts say that serious injuries and death from chiropractic treatment are rare. However, it’s important for patients to understand what kind of care they’re receiving, especially if they suffer from a health concern that might make chiropractic adjustments dangerous. It’s important to fully understand the limits of chiropractic treatment, as well as the possible risks associated with aggressive or jerking movements of the neck and spine.
Compensation for Chiropractic Medical Malpractice
Before undergoing any type of medical treatment, it’s important to speak to a medical doctor. If you have been injured by a chiropractor, you may be entitled to compensation. A New York City medical malpractice lawyer can help explain your options when it comes to filing a claim. There is a narrow window of time for pursuing a medical malpractice claim, so it’s important to avoid delays in speaking with a lawyer. Call Jonathan C. Reiter Law Firm today at (212)-736-0979, or visit our offices located in Manhattan or the Bronx.
Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved.