“There is no robust data concerning the incidence or prevalence of adverse reactions after chiropractic,” according to reviewers from Portugal.

First, the details.

  • A search of the literature revealed 376 potentially relevant articles.
  • 46 articles were considered worth including in this review.

And, the results.

  • Most of the side effects reported were benign and transitory.
  • Life threatening complications included arterial dissection, myelopathy (disturbance of the spinal cord), vertebral disc extrusion, and epidural hematoma (swelling or mass of blood between the skull and the brain).
  • The frequency of adverse events varied between 33% and 61%.
  • The frequency of serious adverse events:
    • 5 strokes/100,000 manipulations
    • 1.5 serious side effects/10,000,000 manipulations
    • 2.7 deaths/10,000,000 manipulations

The bottom line?
An earlier review by researchers in the UK concluded, “Although minor side effects following cervical spine manipulation were relatively common, the risk of a serious adverse event, immediately or up to 7 days after treatment, was low to very low.”

5/17/09 17:20 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.