How Safe is Chiropractic Treatment?


Chiropractic care has gained a strong foothold in health care of people of different ages and conditions. Millions appreciate the unique and safe approach in the relief of pain and discomfort from back pain, neck pain, headaches and symptoms from other musculoskeletal and many other health conditions. The growing popularity of chiropractic care, which is attributed to the many health benefits it has brought satisfied patients is even more enhanced by people’s realization of the potential risks that conventional medicine approach can cause.

Risks of Medical Approach

Documented reports of the adverse effects of medication and surgery, the main treatment approaches used by conventional medicine, are rife.

A researcher at Harvard Medical School of Public Health, Dr. Lucian Leape, reports that the medical procedures that have ever been subjected to test for appropriateness through randomized trials is only 13%. Moreover, 3.7% of all hospitalizations end up with some adverse events. But what is worse is, 13.6% of those cases of adverse events ended in death.


Dr. Leape has likened medicine to aviation, a high risk industry, and even worse. The chance of perishing in an aviation accident is very slim – one in two million, while the chance of dying from an accident of medical nature is one in 200.

Perhaps the most comprehensive study on latrogenic injury or adverse events caused by conventional medicine is written by Gary Null, PhD, Martin Feldman, MD, Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, Dorothy Smith, PhD and Debora Rasio, MD in an article titled “Death by Medicine”. In this review, it is revealed that:

  • 2.2 million hospital patients experience adverse reactions to prescription medicine per year.
  • 20 million antibiotics recommended for viral infections yearly are considered unnecessary.
  • 7.5 million surgical and medical procedures performed annually are unnecessary.
  • 8.5 million patients are subjected to hospitalization which are considered unnecessary.

But the most shocking statistic among all these is that 783,936 deaths per year occur as a result of modern conventional medicine. This is equivalent to an astounding 2,147 people killed each day everyday.

Safety of Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic manipulation is a very safe and controlled procedure and the side effects from the technique are very rare. A lot of research and studies on the treatment point to a very high patient satisfaction.

A study conducted in 1997 that involved 4,712 treatments and 1,058 new patients reported the side effects from chiropractic adjustment that patients experienced. About half of all patients who underwent chiropractic adjustments reported some kind of side effects from the treatment. About 85% of these patients experienced mild discomfort and tiredness, which usually subsided and disappeared within 24 hours after the treatment, as reported by 74% of them.

Another article on a study to determine the effects of chiropractic treatment and its possible side effects was published in Spine in 2007. This time, the study was much bigger and included a larger number of treatments – 10,722. The findings from this more recent study reflected very similar results with the earlier study.

In both of these studies, there were no serious side effects reported.

A more serious but rare side effect from cervical manipulation usually reported is that of stroke or vertebral artery dissection. The incidence is reported to range between one in 100,000 to one in 5.85 million cervical chiropractic treatments. A research in a 2001 article put the risk of stroke or vertebral artery dissection to be one in 5.85 million cervical manipulations.

These figures tell us that the likelihood of having a stroke from simple everyday activities such as physical exercise, playing sports, doing yoga or pilates is higher than getting a cervical adjustment. Research shows that neck arteries are not subjected to any more strain in a chiropractic treatment when compared to normal neck movements in everyday activities.

Chiropractors are professional highly trained in manipulation and know how to execute it safely. They give their best to offer the best possible and safest care to patients. Research and statistics has confirmed this fact quite accurately.