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Why Didn’t I Know This Was a Risk?

Surprised to Learn About the Possibility of Chiropractic Stroke?

Most people do not know that chiropractic care has serious risks. After all, many chiropractors offer “wellness” care to entirely healthy patients. They also assume that if you go to a health care practitioner for any sort of treatment that poses serious risks, that person will warn you about those risks beforehand. But when it comes to strokes caused by chiropractic neck manipulation, most people get no warning at all.

At the Law Offices of Charles N. Rock, we are devoted to correcting this problem by providing information about the risks of chiropractic stroke from improper cervical manipulation. If you have suffered a stroke due to chiropractic malpractice, we will help you seek fair compensation for your injuries.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation with experienced personal injury and wrongful death lawyer Charles Rock. Based in New York, we serve clients nationwide.

Learn the History Behind Chiropractors’ Failure to Warn

Chiropractors are often told in chiropractic school that the risk of stroke caused by neck manipulation is so tiny that they need not obtain informed consent for treatment. The fact is that no one fully knows how many people each year will suffer harm from upper cervical manipulations. Many stroke patients never know what caused their stroke and many times treatment by a chiropractor is unreported. This is because many people do not know that chiropractic neck manipulations can tear the inside of the arteries and cause the stroke. Specific tests are done when the doctor suspects that the inside of the artery is damaged.

Chiropractors are “doctors,” but they are not “physicians” – none the less, as health care providers they are accountable to the ethical standards of the medical profession.

Historically, several medical organizations and societies tried to warn people about the risks or chiropractic treatment and even decided as a group that they would not refer patients to chiropractors. However, in 1987, chiropractors won an antitrust lawsuit against the American Medical Association and several other organizations, on the grounds that their actions interfered with the chiropractor’s business and caused restraint of trade. Ever since then, these physician’s groups and organizations have become cautious and they do not speak out as a single voice. In Canada, a group of neurologists and others issues the following statement:

Statement of Concern to the Canadian Public from Canadian Neurologists
Regarding the Debilitating and Fatal Damage Manipulation
of the Neck May Cause to the Nervous System

February 2002

We Canadian neurologists hereby express our strong concern and thereby issue this warning to Canadians. The public must be made aware that the neurological damage that can result subsequent to upper neck manipulation can be debilitating and fatal.

We make the following recommendations for the attention of the Canadian public, the practitioners of manipulation, the medical community, the provincial Ministries of Health and the health care professional regulatory bodies.

Our concerns are significant. Stroke and death due to neck manipulation has been reported in the scientific literature for over 50 years [1-10]. New deaths, in the past few years, have been reported to the Canadian Stroke Consortium [11]. The Canadian Stroke Consortium recently published a major prospective study [12]. The latest data from the Stroke Consortium indicates that “more than 100 cases of dissection per year are associated with neck manipulation.” [13] The resulting stroke and debilitation from such a large number is very significant.

A recent study by the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES Ontario) indicates that patients with posterior circulation strokes under the age of 45 are 5 times more likely than controls to have visited a chiropractor within one week of the event [14].


In recent years, chiropractors and their organizations have continued to use lawsuits and threats of lawsuits to shut down public discussion of chiropractic stroke risks. This is likely a big reason why you didn’t know there was a risk. In fact, the same tactics used in the United States was threatened in Canada:

Canadian Chiropractic Association threatens neurologists

National Post – March 9, 2002

Dan Ovsey

The Canadian Chiropractic Association is threatening legal action against a group of neurologists in Canada if they do not retract a statement outlining the dangers of chiropractic neck manipulation.

More than 60 neurologists received warning letters, including Brad Stewart for his comments published in the National Post last month. The letter also threatened the doctors’ accreditation with hospitals.

Chiropractic malpractice lawyer Charles Rock and our team are dedicated to raising awareness about the stroke risks of chiropractic treatment and seeking compensation for people who have been seriously injured due to chiropractic malpractice. Contact us today.