Internet commentators were conflicted after a man said he had a life-threatening emergency that left him hospitalized for a week after a recent visit to a chiropractor.
On Nov. 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 have them manipulate your neck or throat area,” Nowell tweeted. “Last week at the age of 32 I suffered a stroke due to a chiropractic injury. After a week in intensive care and on a feeding tube, I was finally discharged today.”
“I actually went to the fitting on Monday and had the stroke on Thursday night,” he added in a separate tweet. “The first symptom I noticed was that I was imbalanced … it was like an uncomfortable drunken feeling that I couldn’t get over.”
With nearly 12,000 retweets, Nowell’s first tweet garnered more than 52,000 likes.
With more than 70,000 registered chiropractors and high rates of successful pain relief, chiropractic care is popular in the United States.
According to data released by health research website The Good Body, 35 million Americans visit a chiropractor annually, and more than 1 million chiropractic adjustments are performed every day.
While The Good Body reports that 77 percent of chiropractic patients describe their treatment as “very effective,” despite the potential for pain relief, there is a risk of injury associated with spinal manipulation.
dr Jessica Shepherd, chief medical officer at Verywell Health, said news week that chiropractic care can be especially beneficial for athletes, people with chronic neck and back pain, and those with scoliosis symptoms.
She also noted that some existing medical conditions may increase the risk of injury and that in certain scenarios, alternative care may prove less dangerous and more effective.
“Risks in chiropractic care are very rare, but could include stroke or worsening herniated discs,” Shepherd said. “Chiropractic-induced stroke is extremely rare, but the risk is small. Usually, these types of strokes are caused by vertebral artery dissection, which are small tears in your vertebral artery that runs along your neck and your spine supplied and brain with blood.
“If someone is at risk for cardiovascular disease or has other underlying conditions, it may be best to seek other treatment options and avoid chiropractic care,” added Shepherd.
Regarding perceptions among medical professionals, Shepherd said that while questions about safety have arisen, chiropractic care has become a necessity for those battling back pain.
“With healthcare costs rising, chiropractic care is a relatively effective and inexpensive treatment for an increasingly common problem like back pain,” Shepherd said news week. “However, there has been some notion that additional evidence of the effectiveness of chiropractic care is still needed to substantiate its scientific claims.”
These notions, as well as the proven effectiveness of chiropractic care, were mentioned in responses to Nowell’s account of his experiences, with Twitter users on both sides of the fence digging in their heels.
“Posts like this make people miss out on the wonders of chiropractic care,” lamented @GlennCoco4Real. “Studies show that the risk of having a stroke from a chiropractic adjustment is no higher than from sitting on the couch.”
“A quick reminder that chiropractors are not medical professionals,” @NWterror interjected. “They’re not very different from a massage therapist and … they’re not health care providers. It is a service, not a procedure.”
news week has reached out to Nowell for comment.