Be careful the next time you consider going to the chiropractor. That simple neck manipulation can cause a debilitating and deadly stroke.

Although the medical field has known this to be true for years, chiropractors rarely tell their patients about the risk of stroke before manipulating the patient’s neck. It remains chiropractors’ dirty little secret.

Well over 500 cases have been documented where a patient has suffered a stroke after getting his or her neck manipulated. Many patients have died after getting their neck manipulated by a chiropractor.

A chiropractor commits stroke malpractice by causing a stroke during a neck manipulation.

Chiropractors can cause strokes by manipulating the neck.

How Can A Chiropractor Cause a Stroke?

It sounds strange that what a chiropractor calls a simple neck adjustment can cause a life threatening stroke. How can this be?

When the neck is rotated it can cause a small flap-like tear in the wall of the vertebral artery. This is called a vertebral artery dissection.

About 75% of the vertebral artery is outside of the skull in the neck. Because of this, the vertebral artery is vulnerable to traumatic injury. This is because it is both outside the skull and because it runs along an area of the neck that rotates from side to side.

When a chiropractor twists your neck from side-to-side, she is twisting the vertebral artery. Any abrupt rotation may stretch the vertebral artery and tear its delicate lining.

A chiropractor manipulates a patient's neck, and may be causing a stroke from a vertebral artery dissection.

The vertebral artery can be torn during chiropractic manipulation.

Are Strokes Caused by a Chiropractor as Dangerous as Other Types of Stroke?

Yes. Surprisingly, however, it’s not the tear in the artery itself that is usually dangerous. It’s the blood clot that forms in an attempt to “heal” the tear that is often most dangerous.

Whenever your body is injured from a cut, your blood starts to coagulate or clot to stop the bleeding. Your body is trying to heal itself. When your body attempts to do this in an artery, the clot slows blood flow to the brain. As soon as blood is not getting to the brain, the brain tissue begins to die. This is called an ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes are the most common types of strokes.

One way to think of this is by imagining a clogged drain in a sink. When something gets caught in the drain, more and more debris start to pile up. Over time, the clog gets bigger. This prevents water from draining where it should.

A similar thing happens when you have a vertebral artery dissection. Initially, there is a small tear in the lining of the artery. As a small blood clot begins to form, more and more blood collects creating a larger clot.

When we are talking about arteries, we are dealing in millimeters. Even the largest arteries to the brain are only a matter of millimeters. This means that it does not take a large blood clot to cause serious problems.

The Medical Experts Agree that Chiropractors Cause Stroke

The medical community has known for years that chiropractors can cause stroke by manipulating a patient’s neck.

A 2001 study in Britain found a strikingly high amount of strokes after chiropractic neck manipulation.

Between 2001 and 2013, four major American studies were conducted that measured the incidence of stroke following cervical manipulation by a chiropractor, physical therapist, or osteopath. Those studies have established an association between neck manipulation and stroke in patients 45 and younger.

Those studies are: (1) Rothwell DM, et al, Chiropractic manipulation and stroke: a population-based case-control studyStroke (2001); (2) Smith WS, Spinal manipulative therapy is an independent risk factor for vertebral artery dissection, Neurology (2003); (3) Cassidy JD, et al, Risk of vertebrobasilar stroke and chiropractic care: results of a population-based case-control and case-crossover studySpine (2008); and (4) Engelter ST, et al, Cervical Artery Dissection and Ischemic Stroke Patients Study Group. Cervical artery dissection: trauma and other potential mechanical trigger eventsNeurology (2013).

The American Stroke Association Confirms the Link Between Stroke and Chiropractic Manipulation

In 2014, the American Heart Association  and American Stroke Association published a comprehensive study called Cervical Arterial Dissections and Association with Cervical Manipulative Therapy: A Statement for  Healthcare Professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke AssociationThe purpose of the study was to reevaluate those four prior American studies to determine whether there was a risk of stroke following neck manipulation by a chiropractor.

The study confirmed that there is a connection between neck manipulation by chiropractors and the kinds of tears in arteries that can cause stroke.

“The techniques for cervical manipulation, even though they vary among health professionals, include a rotation of the neck and sometimes a forceful thrust.” According to the study, these are the kinds of tears that cause that cause strokes.

According to the American Stroke Association, chiropractors and osteopathic physicians should warn patients of this link between neck manipulation and stroke.

“We strongly believe that patients should be informed of this association before undergoing neck manipulation,” the lead author said.

Neurosurgeons Agree that Chiropractic Neck Manipulation Can Cause Stroke

Similarly, in 2011 a study was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery that further confirmed the link between stroke and chiropractic manipulation.

They analysed a database of patients who had experienced a stroke to identify those who had chiropractic treatment prior to the event. They found 13 such patients within a three-year period who initially presented with head and neck pain, typically hours or days after receiving chiropractic treatment. In all of these cases, the neurosurgeons found damage to arteries that are located close to the upper spine and base of the skull. This is precisely the part of the arteries that are damaged during manipulation by chiropractors.

According to the study, the analysis suggests that torn arteries are much more common than previously assumed. “In all likelihood, a substantial number of cases are not reported either because the injury is not severe or is asymptomatic.”

What Are the Signs of Stroke After Chiropractic Neck Manipulation?

The most common symptoms of vertebral artery dissection include:

  • Head pain – This occurs in 50–75% of all cases of vertebral artery dissection. It tends to be located at the back of the head, either on the affected side or in the middle, and develops gradually. It is either dull or pressure-like in character or throbbing. For some people, headache is the only symptom of vertebral artery dissection. About 8% of all people who are diagnosed with either vertebral or carotid artery dissection are diagnosed on the basis of pain alone.
  • Stroke Symptoms – Around 77-96% of people diagnosed with a vertebral artery dissection experience dysfunction in part of their brain. These stroke symptoms may be temporary (called transient ischemic attacks or TIAs). Other people have permanent deficits from an ischemic stroke.

These stroke symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • Lack of coordination or unsteadiness on your feet
  • Vision loss
  • Drooping eyelid, constricted pupil, or a sunken eye on one side of the face

Many people have dissections or torn arteries on both sides of the body. This means that unlike classic stroke signs—which occur only on one side of the body—a person with a vertebral artery dissection may experience signs or symptoms on both sides of the body.

Lawsuits for Chiropractic Stroke Malpractice

There are several possible claims for chiropractic stroke malpractice. The most likely claims for chiropractic stroke malpractice include:

  • The chiropractor’s negligence in causing the stroke
  • The chiropractor’s failure to warn the patient that neck manipulation could cause a stroke
  • Delayed diagnosis or missed diagnosis of the stroke
  • Delayed treatment or failure to treat the stroke

There have been many cases of chiropractic stroke. Some of these cases have been more noteworthy than others. 34-year-old model and internet sensation Katie May died in February 2016 days after a chiropractor manipulated her neck. Sadly, May had no idea that the head and neck pain she was experiencing days after going to a chiropractor were the signs of a vertebral artery dissection and stroke. She continued to complain of the head and neck pain. She even went back to the chiropractor for additional adjustments in the days before her death.

Katie May before she died from a stroke caused by medical error.

Model Katie May’s family has filed a lawsuit for wrongful death because a doctor’s error caused her stroke.

Click here for more information about Katie May’s death and the pending wrongful death lawsuit.

Can I File A Lawsuit for A Stroke Caused by A Chiropractor?

Yes.  If you think a chiropractor or other healthcare provider caused your stroke through neck manipulation, you should contact a stroke lawyer as soon as possible. There are short time restrictions for filing a lawsuit for chiropractic stroke.

How Do I Hire You to be My Chiropractic Stroke Malpractice Lawyer?

If you would like us to begin investigating your case, there are a number of ways to begin. You can always call us at 216-777-8856. You can also enter your information into the contact information form at the bottom of the screen. You can also enter your information into the chat box that appears on the screen. If you prefer to text, you can click the text us box from your mobile device.

As you can imagine, lawyers who concentrate on stroke are in high demand. We are contacted by potential clients, other attorneys, and even doctors from across the country asking us to help with their cases. We would love to take every case, but we simply cannot.

We can only take those medical malpractice cases that have strong merit. These are cases where a doctor or hospital error clearly caused a stroke or made the stroke much worse.

Once we have investigated your case, we will candidly tell you the results of our investigation and why we may or may not be the best lawyer for your stroke medical malpractice case.

If for whatever reason we do not take your case, and we think there is some merit to the case, we’ll try and help you find the best stroke medical malpractice lawyer for your case.

If you would like more information about us, you can always us visit us at Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers.

Michael Hill

Michael Hill

Trial Lawyer at Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers
Michael Hill is an accomplished trial lawyer focusing on representing individuals who have suffered life changing injuries due to stroke. While Michael resides in Cleveland, Ohio, he handles stroke medical malpractice cases throughout the United States.

Michael Hill has recorded several seven figure verdicts and settlements.Michael is a regular speaker for lawyers concerning litigation and trial practice.Michael is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 under 40, Top 10 Nursing Homes Lawyers, Top 25 Medical Malpractice Lawyers, Super Lawyers: Rising Star, and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

Michael Hill is a founder of Eadie Hill Trial Lawyers.
Michael Hill