Chiropractic Adjustments: Illustrating Rare Personal Injuries

Chiropractic adjustments are deemed safe with a very low to non-existent injury rate. However, despite its rarity, there have been reports of personal injuries.
Chiropractic Adjustments
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Chiropractic adjustments are popular amongst the general public in the United States. According to The American Chiropractic Association, about 35 million Americans (adults and children) are treated by chiropractors annually. 

This procedure is a form of alternative health mainly applied to treat spinal pain and headache. Chiropractic adjustments are often referred to as spinal manipulations as it requires a trained and skilled professional using physical and sudden force from their hands or small equipment to improve musculoskeletal complaints and improve the body’s overall function.

During this procedure, the adjustment is done manually to reset the position of the spinal cords and nerves to allow free blood flow and nerve conductivity to the areas where the pain is being experienced.

It’s generally considered a safe method of treating certain types of spinal pain and some headaches. However, experts have questioned whether it’s genuinely safe as there have been a few reported cases of personal injuries after chiropractic adjustments.

Chiropractic Adjustments
Photo by Benjamin Wedemeyer on Unsplash

How Safe Are Chiropractic Adjustments?

With any medical care, there are risks involved. Like other forms of medical care, chiropractic adjustments have risks involved, but they are rare overall. A study by RAND Corporation stated that the occurrence of severe complications from a chiropractic adjustment is like one in one million.

However, despite the rarity of complications with chiropractic adjustments, certain practices, and pre-existing conditions can aid complications from adjustments.

A spinal manipulation performed by a chiropractor with blunt technical skills and expertise can be quite risky and can lead to traumatic injury. This is because patients undergoing an adjustment are required to be in a particular position at different points during the procedure, and exerting pressure on different areas of the spine without precision can lead to overextending of the vertebral joints beyond their normal range of motion. A reported case of Elizabeth Haran Caplan showed that a patient got dizzy following neck manipulation and suffered a stroke. 

Underlying conditions like spine cancer and severe osteoporosis can increase the risk of complications from a chiropractic adjustment. Patients with early diagnosis of these conditions who still go-ahead to have chiropractic treatments can suffer personal injuries during the adjustments. Hence, it’s not a safe method for them.

Reported Cases of Complications Following Chiropractic Adjustments

Even though complications are generally rare, experts and researchers have pointed to cases of personal injuries after chiropractic manipulation. 

A survey by the Association of British Neurologists asking its members to report complications arising within 24 hours of cervical spine manipulation over 12 months showed cases of vertebral artery dissection, stroke in the carotid territory, acute subdural hematoma, myelopathy, and cervical radiculopathy.

Amongst other rare cases, there has been a report of a 46-year-old man who suffered from a traumatic injury as an MRI confirmed a cervical cord injury caused by spinal manipulation. 

Also, there has been a case of a model who suffered from a stroke caused by a ruptured artery damaged during a neck manipulation by a chiropractor. 

These and many more cases have been recorded to explain that chiropractic adjustments, although considered safe, aren’t without their risks and potential for causing traumatic injury.

Getting Compensation For a Chiropractic Medical Malpractice Case

There have been cases where a chiropractic adjustment causes a new injury or aggravates an existing one. In such instances where improper treatment or negligent care by a chiropractor led to an injury or death in a patient, such a patient or their relatives can employ the services of a competent attorney to bring a claim against the practitioner.

An example is the case of Hunt v. Waters, where the plaintiff, a representative of the wrongful death victim, filed a complaint alleging that the victim died after suffering an acute left vertebral artery injury during chiropractic manipulation by the defendant, who is a chiropractor. 

Another example is the case of Collins v. Juergens Chiropractic, PLLC, where the plaintiff sued his chiropractor, claiming that a neck manipulation done by the defendant caused a vertebral artery dissection and resulted in a stroke. 

An attorney looking to bring claims against a chiropractor for causing injury to a patient can employ the use of legal animation to illustrate how the chiropractor’s actions led to the injury.

For example, in a case of cervical artery dissection caused by chiropractic manipulation, an attorney can seek to use legal animation to illustrate how a blunt pressure exerted by the chiropractor during an adjustment led to a tear in the wall of one of the large blood vessels (arteries) in a patient’s neck.

Using legal animation to explain this can show the severity of the injury and the lack of proper technique by the chiropractor leading to the injury in the patient.

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