June 19, 2012 — Last week, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) released two articles debating spinal manipulation. The case against spinal manipulation was led by Neil O’Connell, a lecturer at the center for research in rehabilitation at Brunel University in Uxbridge; and the case for spinal manipulation was led by David Cassidy, DC, a professor in the department of epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.
Cassidy is one of the foremost authorities on the safety of spinal manipulation and is also the lead author of a ground-breaking 2008 study published in Spine. Cassidy’s research concluded that there is no greater risk of vertebrobasilar artery stroke following chiropractic cervical manipulation than there is following visits to a primary care medical physician.
The study — the most comprehensive to date on this issue — analyzed nine years’ worth of data amounting to 110-million person years. It suggests that in very rare cases there are patients with a stroke in progress who seek chiropractic or medical care for neck pain, which is an early symptom. The stroke may follow the chiropractic or medical intervention but is not caused by it.
The BMJ articles also attracted interest from the mainstream press. ACA President Keith Overland, DC, had the opportunity to contribute to an ABC News story about the debate. Overland put the risks associated with spinal manipulation in context by stating that, “There’s still a lot of residual bias against the profession … Yes, there’s risk of every medical procedure, but we need to move away from health in a bottle.”
For patients who may have questions regarding the topic, ACA offers its members key points to share on the Cassidy study and also a link to a monograph by NCMIC that summarizes research on the topic and helps put the issue into perspective.
Source: American Chiropractic Association, acatoday.org