(Keywords: CHIROPRACTIC IATROGENIC ILLNESS, chiropractic stroke, chiropractic books, cracked rib)
It's pure nonsense to suggest that there is no doctor-caused disease in Chiropractic clinics. However, whilst the reality is that serious injuries are rare, small and some not-so-small problems are common.
How do I know? I cause them myself, and at Chiropractic Help I regularly get questions from patients who have been injured by chiropractors. CHIROPRACTIC HELP ...
I have meralgia paresthetica. Had a popping sensation in lower back a
bit over 2 weeks ago. Had a quick adjustment by my husband's chiro.
Woke up that night in agony down the leg..."
The majority of such injuries are self limiting, but some indeed are more serious... This page invites frank admissions from Chiropractors in the field that would be beneficial to the whole Chiropractic community to even further minimise injuries. I include here some of my own oops's.
If you have been seriously injured by a chiropractor, you may also make a submission. (bottom of this page)
I retain the right to edit all submissions.
1. TIREDNESS / Fatigue
In research done in the Netherlands (published in Spine 2008; 33(13): 1451-1458), Dr Sidney Rubenstein DC, PhD, discovered that a significant number of patients experienced profound weariness after their first Chiropractic consultation for neck pain treatment.
It was not clear whether this was due to the Chiropractic treatment per se, or from the long process of taking a history, doing an examination, and sometimes giving the first treatment.
The history itself often is filled with emotion-rich content. Revisiting serious trauma, car accidents, falls off horses, physical beatings...
This "vermoeidheid" was largely limited to the first consultation, and was of a temporary nature.
2. STIFFNESS AND DISCOMFORT
Stiffness and discomfort and sometimes mild pain of a temporary nature were common.
In the treatment of over 500 patients there were no serious adverse Chiropractic Iatrogenic illness events.
Probably the most significant finding, is that the length of time that the patient had had the neck pain was the predicator of a successful outcome. 50% of the patients had less than half the pain by the fourth treatment.
ASIDE: Other research indicates that a neck pain event of more than three months duration will probably never pass over completely.
3. CRACKED and BRUISED RIBS
Probably the most common significant Chiropractic Iatrogenic Illness has to do with the rib cage. The ribs themselves (particularly in the elderly), and both the costo-sternal and costo-transverse joints can be injured by overly robust manipulation.
In 30 years in practice, I recall five cases of fairly severe rib injury:
Whilst adjusting the lumbar spine of an elderly woman, my indifferent hand placed over the rib cage in the mid axillary line, cracked a rib. She had fairly intense pain with breathing for 3 days, and discomfort thereafter for several weeks.
SOLUTION: I now never place my hand directly on the rib cage. Rather I take a broader contact on the patient's hand or arm. I have never had a recurrence of this injury since changing my indifferent hand contact.
I have personally never cracked a rib using this technique, but it is reputed that Chiropractors fairly frequently do.
However, I have several times set up a costo-sternal syndrome ( Tietzes syndrome ) using this technique.
Stay close to the spine (on the transverse processes) when adjusting the spine of elderly osteoporotic women. Only thrust on full expiration, and with a minimum of "brute force and ignorance".
Do not use PA techniques (or with a minimum of power) on patients complaining of sternal-rib pain.
TIETZES SYNDROME ... costo-sternal chondritis.
Using one of my favourite techniques for adjusting the thoraco-lumbar junction, I once squeezed too hard on the rib cage, and cracked a rib in the MAL. A bunch of flowers, and nice card and she returned for care after a few weeks.
Probably the worst Chiropractic Iatrogenic Illness rib injury that I have caused was adjusting an elderly lady for a Maignes syndrome radiating to the anterior thigh. The prone thrust on L1 fractured several ribs in the anterior rib cage. She had quite severe pain for two weeks, and pain for a full six weeks. Patients are sometimes too kind - she accepted my sincere apology, free treatment until the Maignes syndrome passed, and she remained a patient in the clinic. It was however a foolishness on my part: far too much force for an elderly patient. But she recovered completely with just some simple kinesiotaping of the ribs. MAIGNES SYNDROME ...
4. DIZZINESS VERTIGO
A very large study done in the United Kingdom on the Chiropractic Iatrogenic Illness effects of neck manipulation found that a patient complaining of dizziness was a predicator of a less than good outcome.
This creates a dilemma for the Chiropractor, as some patients with Vertigo respond well to gentle neck adjusting. However others apparently not so.
The presence of a positive Hallpike Dix test suggests that the patient should first be treated with the Epley manoeuvres before any adjusting of the cervical spine is considered.
ASIDE: I NEVER adjust the neck and do the Epleys at the same consultation. I once had a patient react extremely badly, with emesis for several hours. It passed, and she returned to treatment from a colleague. I was not forgiven for the mishap.
WORSE: Ever appeared on national TV? I have twice, once giving a patient with severe BPPV a lumbar roll. As she turned on her side she had a severe attack of vertigo. Severe, for all the world to see. Literally! Dizzy ... (an exerpt from Bernard Preston's third book of Chiropractic anecdotes, Stones in my Clog ...
"I'm still learning."
- said by Michelangelo, aged 85.
5. CHIROPRACTIC STROKE
A task force set up by the WHO to evaluate the prevalence of Stroke after a chiropractic consultation concluded:
VBA stroke is a very rare event and that the risk of VBA stroke associated with a visit to a chiropractor’s office appears to be no different from the risk of VBA stroke following a visit to a family physician’s office.
Depending on whose research you read it appears that Chiropractic Stroke occurs about once per 2-6 million cervical manipulations. There is thus an EXTREMELY LOW RISK of stroke a chiropractic neck adjustment. Far safer than swallowing an aspirin.
It's indeed a fine line that separates an honest mistake from negligence. Despite the injuries listed above - they certainly can be construed at Chiropractic Iatrogenic Illness (or doctor-caused disease) I have never been sued.
Why? First, because I have a good relationship with my patients and when something goes awry I don't conceal the obvious but eat a humble pie. Patients are forgiving...
Secondly, I don't practise in North America. The American practice of suing doctors every time something goes wrong can only have a negative impact on society. Indirectly patients themselves, and society as a whole, have to pay for the astronomic insurance premiums that all doctors have to pay to cover their butts.
I once treated a Canadian woman who had a routine neck problem. I think I'm a relatively gentle chiropractor (judging by others I have watched), but I was astonished that she told me that five Canadian chiropractors had treated her so gently that the problem did not improve. Three or four good solid cervical adjustments and her problem was history.
Who suffers when society scares the wits out of it's doctors? That society. Who benefits when doctors are hauled before the courts for a minor mishap?
Do you have a case about Chiropractic Iatrogenic Illness that will contribute to minimising the unnecessary injuring of patients? Share it! We can all benefit from frank admission of ommissions and errors.
You can choose whether to include your name or not.
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
I had a patient recently with low back pain whom I could not release. He urged me to use more force, and I duly obliged. That night severe pain began in …
Fractured clavicle after neck manipulation. Not rated yet
A few years ago, six to be exact, I was being treated by a chiropractor for a low back injury. I came in one day with a stiff neck, something I had been …
Pain on right side low back after adjustments Not rated yet
Went to chiropractor to be treated for hip/pelvic rotation. He had be lay on my back and did what he said was a common rotation to free stuck sacroiliac …
DISK HERNIATION Not rated yet
I AM A RADIOLOGIST WHO WORKS IN A HOSPITAL WITH A CHIROPRACTOR WHO HAS AN EXCELLENT REPUTATION. I SAW HIM FOR BACK PAIN WITHOUT RADICULOPATHY AND WITH …
Cracked rib Not rated yet
I've been going to a chiropractor who only does drops on my low back, and it gives very temporary relief. Physio doesn't help at all, and I refuse to take …
chest pain Not rated yet
Six months ago I consulted a chiropractor for pain in the midback. He thrust very hard several times. The pain in the back improved, but ever since I've …
Brachial neuralgia Not rated yet
In my early days in practice I had a patient with right lower cervical pain. After using a "cervical break" technique ON THE SAME SIDE he immediately had …
DUAL ANTIINFLAMMATORY DRUGS
Far more dangerous than chiropractic iatrogenic illness is the taking of NSAIDs and particularly more than one, like asperin and Motrin... DUAL ANTIINFLAMMATORY DRUGS ...
With many insurance companies now only paying for Physical Therapists to provide a "Chiropractic Adjustment", in the face of powerful research proving that inclusion of Chiropractors to provide the Chiropractic Adjustment would save them a good deal of money, one has to conclude that political Medicine has gone off on another tack to contain Chiropractic.
And it's being successful, with some Chiropractors quitting. In recessionary times, the going is tough when the insurance won't pay.
Chiropractic-Help.com and Chiropractic-Books.com send out a joint monthly newsletter. It covers an overview of a health topic (FEB 2011 issue #20:” 50 percent less pain ”), always a nutritional corner (such as Mussels, loaded with anti-oxidants),.
Sign up at the bottom of any Chiropractic Help Page, for example this one on WHIPLASH CHIROPRACTIC , one of the most important pages at Chiropractic Help. The newsletter is free, and one click cancels it if you find it boring or irrelevant.
Did you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend. Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.