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Cervical Adjustments and Strokes

model-female-girl-beautiful-51969This topic is the biggest excuse people have for not going to the chiropractor. May is Stroke Awareness month so let’s address this and talk about strokes.

A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a vessel or when a blood vessel tears. The lack of blood from the blockage or tear causes brain cells to die. Some people are under the impression that chiropractic care is the direct cause of a stroke. If a person suffers a stroke after receiving a neck adjustment, it does not necessarily mean that the adjustment caused the stroke. Think about the risk factors for blood clots or plaques on the walls of your blood vessels. Certain medications can lead to blood clots and high cholesterol and poor lifestyle habits can lead to vasculature plaquing. Some medications may weaken blood vessels and make susceptible to tears and plaque build-up due to high cholesterol does not allow blood vessels to expand and constrict as they should. Hypertension poses a risk for an aneurysm-the rupture of a vessel due to increased pressure. The adjustment doesn’t cause the clot which leads to the stroke, nor does it make your vessels weak.

Numerous studies have dissected this topic. Studies have indicated that the odds of having a serious adverse event (such as a stroke) are 1 per 5.85 million adjustments. According to the study “Risk of Vertebrobasilar Stroke and Chiropractic Care” by Cassidy et. Al., the risk of a stroke that is associated with a chiropractic adjustment seems to be no different than the risk of a stroke after a visit to the medical doctor’s office. Any assumed association between a stroke and chiropractic adjustment or doctors visit is most likely due to undiagnosed artery dissection-people have neck pain and headaches due to the tear in the vessel and are seeking care. Health care providers are trained to perform complete examinations that should include questions that could determine if the patient has an elevated risk or in the process of having a stroke.

Strokes and artery dissections have symptoms that everyone should be aware of. Symptoms include: dizziness, headaches, neck pain, pain/numbness in the face, drooping of the face, loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, change in sight, and change in hearing. Keep in mind that some of these symptoms are sudden and others could take longer (weeks or years) to appear.

If you think someone is having a stroke use this acronym: F.A.S.T; it stands for Face, Arms, Speech, and Time. Ask the person to smile; if their smile is uneven it is a sign of a stroke. Have the person raise their arms in front of them; look for weakness in one arm. Ask them to repeat a sentence, listen for slurring in their speech. Lastly, if these symptoms are present among others, it is time to call 911.

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