Internet commenters were left conflicted after one man said he had a life-threatening emergency that left him hospitalized for a week following a recent visit with a chiropractor.
On November 17, Twitter user Dorion Nowell (@DorionNowell) said he noticed alarming symptoms days after the visit and advised others receiving chiropractic care to reconsider.
“If you all ever use a chiropractor, please NEVER let them manipulate your neck or cervical area,” Nowell tweeted. “Last week, at 32 I suffered a stroke from a chiropractic injury. After being in ICU and on a feeding tube for a week, I was finally released today.”
“I actually went for the adjustment on Monday and had the stroke on Thursday night,” he added, in a separate tweet. “The first symptom I noticed was I was unbalanced…it was like a nasty drunk feeling that I couldn’t overcome.”
Amassing nearly 12,000 retweets, Nowell’s initial tweet has been liked more than 52,000 times.
With more than 70,000 registered chiropractors and high rates of successful pain relief, chiropractic care is popular across the United States.
According to data published by the health research website The Good Body, 35 million Americans visit a chiropractor annually, and more than 1 million chiropractic adjustments are performed every day.
However, while The Good Body reports that 77 percent of chiropractic patients describe their care as “very effective,” there is a risk of injury associated with spinal manipulation, despite the potential for pain relief.
Dr. Jessica Shepherd, chief medical officer at Verywell Health, said: Newsweek that chiropractic care can be especially beneficial for athletes, those suffering from chronic neck and back pain and those exhibiting symptoms of scoliosis.
She also noted that some existing conditions can increase injury risk, and that in certain scenarios, alternative care might prove less dangerous and more effective.
“Risks with chiropractic are very rare but could include stroke or worsening of herniated discs,” Shepherd said. “A stroke brought on by chiropractic care is extremely rare but there is a small risk. Usually these kinds of strokes are caused by vertebral artery dissection which are small tears in your vertebral artery which runs along the back of your neck and supplies your spine and brain with blood.
“If someone is at risk of cardiovascular disease or has other underlying conditions, it may be best to seek other treatment options and avoid chiropractic care,” Shepherd added.
As for the perception among medical professionals, Shepherd said that while questions about safety have arisen, chiropractic care has become a necessity for those battling back pain.
“In the context of rising health care costs, chiropractic care is a relatively effective and inexpensive treatment for increasingly common issues such as back pain,” Shepherd told Newsweek. “However there have been some notions that additional evidence for chiropractic care’s effectiveness is still required for it to establish its scientific claims.”
Those notions, as well as the proven effectiveness of chiropractic care, were mentioned throughout the replies to Nowell’s account of his experience, with Twitter users on either side of the fence digging in their heels.
“It’s posts like this that make people miss out on the miracles of Chiropractic,” @GlennCoco4Real lamented. “Studies show there is no higher risk of suffering a stroke from a chiropractic adjustment than sitting on your couch.”
“A quick reminder that chiropractors aren’t medical professionals,” @NWterror interjected. “They’re barely different than a massage therapist and…they’re not healthcare providers. It’s a service not a procedure.”
Newsweek has reached out to Nowell for comment.