MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

chiropractic

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One of my recent posts prompted the following comment from a chiropractor: “… please don’t let me stop you…while we actually treat patients“. It was given in the context of a debate about the evidence for or against chiropractic spinal manipulations as a treatment of whiplash injuries. My position was that there is no convincing evidence, while the chiropractor argued that he has been using manipulations for this indication with good results. Here I do not want to re-visit the pros and cons of that particular debate. Since similar objections have been put to me so many times, I want rather to raise several more principal points.

Before I do this, I need to quickly get the personal stuff out of the way: the comment implies that I  don’t really know what I am talking about because I don’t see patients and thus don’t understand their needs. The truth is that I started my professional life as a clinician, then I went into basic science, then I went back into clinical medicine (while also doing research), and eventually, I became a full-time clinical researcher. I have thus seen plenty of patients, certainly enough to empathize with both the needs of patients and the reasoning of clinicians. In fact, these provided the motives for my clinical research during the last decades of my professional career (more details here).

Now about the real issue that is at stake here. When offered by a clinician to a scientist, the comment “… please don’t let me stop you…while we actually treat patients” is an expression of an arrogant feeling of superiority that clinicians often harbor vis a vis professionals who are not at the ‘coal face’ of healthcare. Stripped down to its core, the argument implies that science is fairly useless because the only knowledge worth having stems from dealing with patients. In other words, it is about the tension that so often exists between clinical experience and scientific evidence.

Many clinicians feel that experience is the best guide to correct decision-making.

Many scientists feel that experience is fraught with errors, and only science can lead us towards optimal decisions.

Such arguments emerge regularly on this blog and are constant company to almost any type of healthcare. The question is, who is right and who is wrong?

As I indicated, I can empathize with both positions. I can see that, in the context of making therapeutic decisions in a busy clinic, for instance, the clinician’s argument weighs heavily and can make sense, particularly in areas where the evidence is mixed, weak, or uncertain.

However, in the context of this blog and other discussions focused on critical evaluation of the science, I am strongly on the side of the scientist. In fact, in this context, the argument “… please don’t let me stop you…while we actually treat patients” seems ridiculous and resembles an embarrassing admission of having no rational argument left for defending one’s own position.

To put my view of this in a nutshell: it is not a question of either or; for optimal healthcare, we obviously need both clinical experience AND scientific evidence (an insight that is not in the slightest original, since it is even part of Sackett’s definition of EBM).

If you go on Twitter you will find that chiropractors are keen like mustard to promote the idea that, after a car accident, you should consult a chiropractor. Here is just one Tweet that might stand for hundreds, perhaps even thousands:

Recovering from a car accident? If you have accident-related injuries such as whiplash, chiropractic care may provide relief. Treatments like spinal manipulation and soft tissue therapy can aid in your recovery.

In case you don’t like Twitter, you could also go on the Internet where you find hundreds of websites that promote the same idea. Here are just two examples:

A frequent injury arising from an automobile accident … is whiplash. After an accident, a chiropractor can help treat resulting issues and pain from the whiplash… Proceeding reduction in swelling and pain, treatment will then focus on manipulation of the spine and other areas.

The primary whiplash treatment for joint dysfunction, spinal manipulation involves the chiropractor gently moving the involved joint into the direction in which it is restricted.

There is no question, chiropractors earn much of their living by treating patients suffering from whiplash (neck injury caused by sudden back and forth movement of the neck often causing neck pain and stiffness, shoulder pain, and headache) after a car accident with spinal manipulation.

Why?

There are two not mutually exclusive possibilities:

  1. They think it is effective.
  2. It brings in good money.

I have no doubt about the latter notion, yet I think we should question the first. Is there really good evidence that chiropractic manipulations are effective for whiplash?

When I was head of the PMR department at the University of Vienna, treating whiplash was my team’s daily bread. At the time, our strategy was to treat each patient according to the whiplash stage and to his/her individual signs and symptoms. Manipulations were generally considered to be contra-indicated. But that was about 30 years ago. Perhaps the evidence has now changed. Perhaps manipulation therapy has been shown to be effective for certain types of whiplash injuries?

To find out, I did a few Medline searches. These did, however, not locate compelling evidence for spinal manipulation as a treatment of any stage of whiplash injuries. Here is an example of the evidence I found:

In 2008, the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders (Neck Pain Task Force) found limited evidence on the effectiveness of manual therapies, passive physical modalities, or acupuncture for the management of whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) or neck pain and associated disorders (NAD). This review aimed to update the findings of the Neck Pain Task Force, which examined the effectiveness of manual therapies, passive physical modalities, and acupuncture for the management of WAD or NAD. Its findings show the following: Evidence from 15 evaluation studies suggests that for recent neck pain and associated disorders grades I-II, cervical and thoracic manipulation provides no additional benefit to high-dose supervised exercises.

But this is most puzzling!

Why do chiropractors promote their manipulations for whiplash, if there is no compelling evidence that it does more good than harm? Again, there are two possibilities:

  1. They erroneously believe it to be effective.
  2. They don’t care but are in it purely for the money.

Whatever it is – and obviously not all chiropractors would have the same reason – I must point out that, in both cases, they behave unethically. Not being informed about the evidence related to the interventions used clearly violates healthcare ethics, and so does financially not informing and exploiting patients.

 

It has been reported that the US Insurer ‘State Farm’ is fighting a fraudulent scheme that has been exploiting New Jersey’s personal injury protection (PIP) benefits law since 2014. The insurer is seeking to recover $2.6 million in what it claims are fraudulent auto injury claims and a declaratory judgment that it need not pay any further claims submitted by the providers involved in the alleged scheme.

State Farm’s suit accuses 12 chiropractic and spine clinics and doctors of fraud, unjust enrichment, and violations of the New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act. The insurer alleges these providers used a “predetermined protocol” for all patients and a patient referral system for services that were either not performed or were not medically necessary for the individual patients. Instead, the services were carried out to enrich the defendants by exploiting the patients’ eligibility for PIP benefits, according to the complaint.

The suit accuses the providers of failing to legitimately evaluate patients to determine the true nature of their injuries and of reporting the same or similar findings for all patients to justify a predetermined course of treatment that was substantially the same for all patients. Part of the “predetermined protocol” for patients with soft-tissue injuries of the neck and back consisted of

  • hot and cold packs,
  • chiropractic manipulations,
  • massage,
  • mechanical traction,
  • physical medicine and rehabilitation,
  • and manual therapy.

These treatments were administered to almost every patient on almost every visit, regardless of each patient’s unique circumstances and needs, according to the complaint. The chiropractors are also accused of referring patients to diagnostic clinics, some allegedly illegally owned by the chiropractors, for an “unnecessary and predetermined course of pain management and invasive treatments” including injections. State Farm says they would submit false documentation for each case representing that the treatments were legitimately performed and medically necessary.

The 80-page complaint details case after case where the patient’s responses to questions and tests were the same or similar, allegedly serving as a “pretext to justify” the chiropractors’ wide range of treatments. The defendants in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for New Jersey are:

  • Tri-County Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Center,
  • Robert Matturro, D.C.,
  • Advanced Spine and Pain Management,
  • Varinder Dhillon, M.D.,
  • Nicholas Rosania, D.C.,
  • Bloomfield UAI,
  • Dov Rand, M.D.,
  • Primary Medical Services,
  • Louis J. Citarelli, M.D.,
  • Chiro Health Center P.C.,
  • Marc Matturro, D.C.
  • Marco Tartaglia, M.D.

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This story made me wonder: which of the listed treatments

  • hot and cold packs,
  • chiropractic manipulations,
  • massage,
  • mechanical traction,
  • physical medicine and rehabilitation,
  • and manual therapy

would ever be indicated for patients with soft-tissue injuries of the neck and back? Or more specifically, are chiropractic manipulations indicated or contra-indicated for such problems following a car accident? I fail to see any sound evidence that they are effective. If I am correct, should insurance companies not sue all chiropractors who routinely use manipulations for such cases? If the answer is YES, the sum of 2.6 million might need to be increased by several orders of magnitude.

As numerous of my posts have demonstrated, chiropractic manipulations can cause severe adverse effects, including deaths. Several hundred have been documented in the medical literature. When discussing this fact with chiropractors, we either see denial or we hear the argument that such events are but extreme rarities. To the latter, I usually respond that, in the absence of a monitoring system, nobody can tell how often serious adverse events happen. The resply often is this:

You are mistaken because the Royal College of Chiropractors’ UK-based Chiropractic Patient Incident Reporting and Learning System (CPiRLS) monitors such events adequately. 

I have heard this so often that it is time, I feel, to have a look at CPiRLS. Here is what it says on the website:

CPiRLS is a secure website which allows chiropractors to view, submit and comment on patient safety incidents.

Access to CPiRLS

CPiRLS is currently open to all UK-based chiropractors, all ECU members and members of the Chiropractic and Osteopathic College of Australasia. To access the secure area of the CPiRLS website, please click the icon below and insert the relevant CPiRLS username and password when prompted.

In the UK, these can normally be found on your Royal College of Chiropractors’ membership card unless the details are changed mid-year. Alternatively, email admin@rcc-uk.org from your usual email address and we will forward the details.

Alternatively, in the UK and overseas, secure access details can be obtained from your professional association.

National associations and organisations wishing to use CPiRLS, or obtain trial access to the full site for evaluation purposes, should contact The Royal College of Chiropractors at chiefexec@rcc-uk.org

Please click the icon below to visit the CPiRLS site.

Yes, you understood correctly. The public cannot access CPiRLS! When I click on the icon, I get this:

Welcome to CPiRLS

CPiRLS, The Chiropractic Patient Incident Reporting and Learning System – is an online reporting and learning forum that enables chiropractors to share and comment on patient safety incidents.

The essential details of submitted reports are published on this website for all chiropractors to view and add comments. A CPiRLS team identifies trends among submitted reports in order to provide feedback for the profession. Sharing information in this way helps to ensure the whole profession learns from the collective experience in the interests of patients.

All chiropractors are encouraged to adopt incident reporting as part of a blame-free culture of safety, and a routine risk management tool.

CPiRLS is secure and anonymous. There is no known way that anyone reporting can be identified, nor do those running the system seek to identify you. For this security to be effective, you require a password to participate.

Please note that reporting to CPiRLS is NOT a substitute for the reporting of patient safety incidents to your professional association and/or indemnity insurers.

So, how useful is CPiRLS?

Can we get any information from CPiRLS about the incidence of adverse effects?

No!

Do we know how many strokes or deaths have been reported?

No!

Can chiropractors get reliable information from CPiRLS about the incidence of adverse effects?

No, because reporting is not mandatory and the number of reports cannot relate to incidence.

Are chiropractors likely to report adverse effects?

No, because they have no incentive and might even feel that it would give their profession a bad name.

Is CPiRLS transparent?

No!

Is CPiRLS akin to postmarketing surveillance as it exists in conventional medicine?

No!

How useful is CPiRLS?

I think I let my readers answer this question.

 

Reports of serious complications of chiropractic manipulation keep on coming. Take this one, for instance:

My daughter went for a routine chiropractor appointment. Now she’s paralysed – 1:20 000 chiropractic neck manipulations result in stroke from vertebral artery dissection.

Or take a recent article by US neurosurgeons:

Cranio-cervical artery dissection (CeAD) is a common cause of cerebrovascular events in young subjects with no clear treatment strategy established. This study evaluated the incidence of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) in CeAD patients treated with and without stent placement. COMParative effectiveness of treatment options in cervical Artery diSSection (COMPASS) is a single high-volume center observational, retrospective longitudinal registry that enrolled consecutive CeAD patients over a 2-year period. Patients were ≥ 18 years of age with confirmed extra- or intracranial CeAD on imaging. Enrolled participants were followed for 1 year evaluating MACE as the primary endpoint.

One-hundred ten patients were enrolled (age 53 ± 15.9, 56% Caucasian, and 50% male, BMI 28.9 ± 9.2). Grade I, II, III, and IV blunt vascular injury was noted in 16%, 33%, 19%, and 32%, respectively. Predisposing factors were noted in the majority (78%), including

  • sneezing,
  • carrying a heavy load,
  • chiropractic manipulation.

Stent was placed in 10 (10%) subjects (extracranial carotid n = 9; intracranial carotid n = 1; extracranial vertebral n = 1) at the physician’s discretion along with medical management. Reasons for stent placement were early development of high-grade stenosis or expanding pseudoaneurysm. Stented patients experienced no procedural or in-hospital complications and no MACE between discharge and 1 year follow up. CeAD patients treated with medical management only had 14% MACE at 1 year.

The authors concluded that in this single high-volume center cohort of CeAD patients, stenting was found to be beneficial, particularly with development of high-grade stenosis or expanding pseudoaneurysm. These results warrant confirmation by a randomized clinical trial.

Yes, I know: this study was not meant to investigate the link between chiropractic manipulations and CeAD. The finding that chiropractic manipulation is a predisposing factor for CeAD is entirely incidental. But it is an important finding nevertheless.

Chiropractors will laugh about the notion that manipulation is a risk factor akin to sneezing and thus try to trivialize the danger of their treatments. I would then point out that sneezing is unavoidable and fulfills a purpose. Chiropractic manipulations do neither.

Trevor Zierke is a D.C. who published several videos that have gone viral after saying that “literally 99% of my profession” is a scam. “When I say almost all the usual lines chiropractors tell you are lies, I mean almost all of them,” he stated. Zierke then went on to give examples of issues chiropractors allegedly make up, including someone’s spine being “misaligned,” tension on nerves causing health problems, and someone having back pain because their hips are off-center. “Almost all of these aren’t true,” he concluded.

In a follow-up video, he claimed that the reasons most people are told they need to go to a chiropractor are “overblown or just flat out lies proven wrong by research.” He also noted that, while there are many scams, that “doesn’t mean you can’t get help from a chiropractor.”

In a third TikTok video, Zierke offered some valid reasons to see a chiropractor. He said that one can seek help from a chiropractor if one has musculoskeletal pain that has been ongoing for more than one to two days, and that’s about it. He stated that issues that a chiropractor couldn’t really fix include “GI pain, hormonal issues, nutrition,” among others.

In comments, users were largely supportive of Zierke’s message.

One said: “As a physiotherapist, I’ve been trying to tell this but I don’t want to like offend any chiropractor in doing so,” a commenter shared.

“Working in a chiropractic office, this is fair,” a further user wrote. “I have issues that I know an adjustment will help & other pain that would be better stretched/released.”

In an email, Zierke reiterated the intention of his videos: “I would just like to clarify that chiropractors, in general, are not a scam or are inherently scammers (I myself am a practicing chiropractor), but rather a lot of very popular sales tactics, phrases, and wording used to imply patients need treatment, and methods of treatment, have never been proven to be true,” he explained. “When chiropractors say & use these methods stating things that are not factually true—I believe it’s scammy behavior and practices. There are still a lot of very good, honest, and integral chiropractors out there,” he concluded. “They can provide a lot of help and relief to patients. But that’s unfortunately not the majority, and I’ve heard too many stories of people falling victim to some of these scam-like tactics from bad apple chiropractors.”

None of what DC Zierke said can surprise those who have been following my blog. On the contrary, I could add a few recent posts to his criticism of chiropractic, for example:

I rest my case.

It has been reported that a recent inspection from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that the diagnostic imaging service at AECC University College in Parkwood Road, Bournemouth, requires improvement in three out of four areas – including patient safety. This is surprising not least because the AECC prides itself on being “a leading higher education institution in healthcare disciplines, nationally and internationally recognised for quality and excellence.”

The unannounced inspection in May this year resulted in several demands for the service to improve upon. For example, the CQC report said staff “did not receive all of the training they needed to keep patients safe” and that patient chaperones “did not receive chaperone training”. Moreover, managers were reported as not always ensuring staff were competent to operate certain equipment. In fact, there was no record of staff competencies which meant inspectors “could not tell if staff had been trained to use equipment”. General cleanliness was also found lacking in relation to certain procedures, namely no sink in any of the site’s nine ultrasound rooms (including those for transvaginal scans) – meaning staff carrying out ultrasound scanning did not have access to a clinical handwashing facility.

The CQC states on its website that it “is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve. We monitor, inspect and regulate services. Then we publish what we find, including performance ratings, to help people choose care. Where we find poor care, we will use our powers to take action.”

No doubt, these are laudable aims. What I find, however, disappointing is that the CQC’s inspection of the AECC did not question the nature of some of the courses taught by the AECC. Earlier this year, I reported in a blog post that the AECC has announced a new MSc ‘Musculoskeletal Paediatric Health‘. This motivated me to look into the evidence for such a course. This is what I found with several Medline searches (date of the review on chiropractic for any pediatric conditions, followed by its conclusion + link [so that the reader can look up the evidence]):

2008

I am unable to find convincing evidence for any of the above-named conditions. 

2009

Previous research has shown that professional chiropractic organisations ‘make claims for the clinical art of chiropractic that are not currently available scientific evidence…’. The claim to effectively treat otitis seems to
be one of them. It is time now, I think, that chiropractors either produce the evidence or abandon the claim.

2009

The … evidence is neither complete nor, in my view, “substantial.”

2010

Although the major reason for pediatric patients to attend a chiropractor is spinal pain, no adequate studies have been performed in this area. It is time for the chiropractic profession to take responsibility and systematically investigate the efficiency of joint manipulation of problems relating to the developing musculoskeletal system.

2018

Some small benefits were found, but whether these are meaningful to parents remains unclear as does the mechanisms of action. Manual therapy appears relatively safe.

What seems to emerge is rather disappointing:

  1. There are no really new reviews.
  2. Most of the existing reviews are not on musculoskeletal conditions.
  3. All of the reviews cast considerable doubt on the notion that chiropractors should go anywhere near children.

But perhaps I was too ambitious. Perhaps there are some new rigorous clinical trials of chiropractic for musculoskeletal conditions. A few further searches found this (again year and conclusion):

2019

We found that children with long duration of spinal pain or co-occurring musculoskeletal pain prior to inclusion as well as low quality of life at baseline tended to benefit from manipulative therapy over non-manipulative therapy, whereas the opposite was seen for children reporting high intensity of pain. However, most results were statistically insignificant.

2018

Adding manipulative therapy to other conservative care in school children with spinal pain did not result in fewer recurrent episodes. The choice of treatment-if any-for spinal pain in children therefore relies on personal preferences, and could include conservative care with and without manipulative therapy. Participants in this trial may differ from a normal care-seeking population.

I might have missed one or two trials because I only conducted rather ‘rough and ready’ searches, but even if I did: would this amount to convincing evidence? Would it be good science?

No! and No!

So, why does the AECC offer a Master of Science in ‘Musculoskeletal Paediatric Health’?

____________________

Isn’t that a question the CQC should have asked?

The UK Chiropractic Council is inviting you to help them re-formulate their educational standards. It is an occasion, some of my readers might find interesting. I, therefore, copy the relevant part of their announcement:

… Following a scoping review in 2021, which determined that the existing Education Standards, published in 2017, required development and updating, the GCC began revising the Education Standards in January 2022.

The revision will ensure that the Education Standards:

  • Provide a realistic and comprehensive set of outcomes to be met by graduates on approved qualifications, demonstrating an ability to practise in accordance with the GCC Code.
  • Take into account developments within the profession, increase focus on multi-disciplinary learning and different professions working more closely together across the UK, ensuring that graduates are well placed to meet the opportunities to care for patients in different contexts.
  • Remain consistent, as appropriate, with the outcomes set by other UK healthcare frameworks and standards.

Purpose: why we are consulting

This consultation sets out our draft Education Standards for providers and Learning Outcomes for students, which reflect and build on the evidence and feedback we have obtained through our scoping review.

We seek stakeholders’ views on these draft Education Standards to ensure our final proposals are future-proof and fit for purpose.

We welcome all responses to the consultation.


Documents

The draft Education Standards on which we invite comments.

The equality impact assessment of the Education Standards, with comments invited within the consultation.

The GCC Education Standards consultation document in Word format.


Ways to respond

Submissions to this consultation can be made online (see below) or by email at enquiries@gcc-uk.org (click here to download the consultation document).

It is advisable to make a copy of your submission to prevent the loss of information due to internet, portal or connectivity issues. This should be done before pressing the submit button.

Information in responses, including personal information, may need to be published or disclosed under the access to information regimes (mainly the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the General Data Protection Regulation, the Data Protection Act 2018, and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004).

The GCC is a data controller registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office. We use personal data to support our work as the regulatory body for chiropractors. We may share data with third parties to meet our statutory aims and objectives, and when using our powers and meeting our responsibilities.


Closing date

The deadline for responses to this consultation on the draft Education Standards is 16 September 2022 at noon. The consultation will be publicised and stakeholders will be invited to comment…

_________________

Personally, I think the GCC desperately needs to improve its educational (and other) standards. They claim that, “as the regulator for chiropractors, our role is to protect the public”. The case of the late John Lawler is one of many examples to show how unfit for this purpose the GCC truly is.

So, perhaps you might want to contribute to the consultation with a view to making UK chiropractors less of a danger to the public?

 

I have been warning the public about the indirect dangers of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) for a very long time. It is now 25 years ago, for instance, that I published an article in the ‘European Journal of Pediatrics’ entitled “The attitude against immunisation within some branches of complementary medicine“. Here is the discussion section of this paper:

… certain groupings within COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE (CM) may advise their patients against immunisation. Within these groupings, there is, of course, a considerable diversity of attitudes towards immunisation. Therefore
generalisations are difficult and more detailed investigations are required to clarify the issue.

The question arises whether the level of advice against immunisation as it exists today represents a real or only a potential risk. One study from the U.K. demonstrates homoeopathy to be the most prevalent reason for non-compliance with immunisation [30]. The problem may not be confined to naturopathy, chiropractic and homoeopathy. Books relating to CM in general [e.g. 19] also strongly advise against immunisation: “Vaccination may provoke the illness which it is supposed to prevent. People who are vaccinated can transmit the illness, even if they are not ill themselves. The vaccine can make the person more susceptible to the illness … The vaccinated child is a contaminated child”.

At present, our data is insufficient to de®ne which proportion of which complementary practitioners share this
attitude. The origin of this stance against vaccination is largely unknown. For instance, there is nothing in Hahnemann’s writings against immunisation [14]. It may therefore stem from a general antipathy toward modern medicine which seems to be prevalent within CM [7, 19, 23]. A more specific reason is that immunisation is viewed as detrimental, burdened with long-term side effects. It is also felt that it is not fully effective and unnecessary because
better methods of protection exist within CM [16].

Anti-immunisation activists are often unable to argue their case rationally, yet they place advertisements in the daily press warning about immunisation. In Britain, one tragic case has recently been publicised. A physician advised parents against measles vaccination for their child who was suspected of suffering from convulsions. Five years later, the child suffered severe brain damage after contracting measles. The doctor was sued by the parents and found guilty of negligence and ordered to pay £825,000 in damages [1].

In medicine we must, of course, always be vigilant about the risks of our interventions. Each form of immunisation should therefore be continuously scrutinised for its possible risks and benefits. Most forms of immunisation are clearly not entirely free of risk [e.g. 22] – in fact, no effective intervention will ever be entirely risk-free. Therefore the risks have to be discounted against the benefits. It follows that any blanket rejection of immunisation, in general, must be misleading. It endangers not only the individual patient but (if prevalent) also the herd immunity of the community at large. Such unreflected rejection of immunisation, in general, will inevitably do more harm than good.

It is concluded that the advice of some, by no means all complementary practitioners in relation to immunisation represents an area for concern, which requires further research. Complementary practitioners and patients alike should be educated about the risks and benefits of immunisation. Paediatricians should be informed about the present negative attitude of some complementary practitioners and discuss the issue openly with their patients.

_____________________________

I suspect that, had we heeded my caution, researched the subject more thoroughly, and taken appropriate action, the current pandemic might have produced fewer and less vocal anti-vaxxers, and fewer patients might have died.

On 18/7/2022 the ‘WORLD FEDERATION OF CHIROPRACTIC’ published a statement on cervical artery dissection (CAD). Below are a few  excerpts to which I have added a few numbers [in brackets] which refer to my comments below:

… On rare occasions, CAD has been reported to have occurred after a patient visited a chiropractor or other provider of manual therapy [1]. However, the best evidence available to date indicates that spinal manipulation does not stress the arteries enough to cause tearing of the arteries leading to dissection-related strokes [2]. Additional studies have concluded that patients are as likely to have consulted a primary care physician as receive spinal manipulation from a chiropractor prior to experiencing a CAD-related stroke [3]…

The provision of safe, high-quality, evidence-based, patient-centered care for these and other conditions is a priority for the chiropractic profession [4]. Rigorous research is core to the pursuit of that objective [5]. We urge caution in making claims that are in conflict with the current state of the evidence.

About the WFC

The World Federation of Chiropractic is an international, non-governmental organization whose members are the national associations of over 90 countries in seven world regions. It is a non-state actor in official relations with the World Health Organization and is the global authority for matters related to the chiropractic profession [6]…

References

Cassidy JD, Boyle E, Côté P, He Y, Hogg-Johnson S, Silver FL, Bondy SJ. Risk of Vertebrobasilar Stroke and Chiropractic Care: Results of a Population-Based Case-Control and Case-Crossover Study. Eur Spine J. 2008 Apr;17(Suppl 1):176–83. Open access here.#

Chaibi A, Russell MB. A risk-benefit assessment strategy to exclude cervical artery dissection in spinal manual-therapy: a comprehensive review. Ann Med. 2019 Mar;51(2):118-127. Open access here.

Church EW, Sieg EP, Zalatimo O, Hussain NS, Glantz M, Harbaugh RE. Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Chiropractic Care and Cervical Artery Dissection: No Evidence for Causation. Cureus. 2016 Feb 16;8(2):e498. Open access here.

Kosloff TM, Elton D, Tao J, Bannister WM. Chiropractic care and the risk of vertebrobasilar stroke: results of a case-control study in U.S. commercial and Medicare Advantage populations. Chiropr Man Therap. 2015 Jun 16;23:19. Open access here.

Rubinstein SM, Peerdeman SM, van Tulder MW, Riphagen I, Haldeman S. A systematic review of the risk factors for cervical artery dissection. Stroke. 2005 Jul;36(7):1575-80. Open access here.

Whedon JM, Mackenzie TA, Phillips RB, Lurie JD. Risk of traumatic injury associated with chiropractic spinal manipulation in Medicare Part B beneficiaries aged 66 to 99 years. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2015 Feb 15;40(4):264-70. Open access here

Here are my brief comments based on the evidence discussed in dozens of posts previously published on this blog:

  1. As there is no post-marketing surveillance, nobody can say with any degree of confidence that CADs after chiropractic are rare.
  2. This is not the ‘best’ evidence. In fact, it has been refuted repeatedly.
  3. This study has also been refuted.
  4. Chiropractic is very far from being evidence-based.
  5. Rigorous research fails to show that chiropractic neck manipulations generate more good than harm.
  6. The WFC is a lobby group for chiropractic; its mission is ” to advance awareness, utilization, and integration of chiropractic internationally”. Its current director is Richard Brown who spear-headed the disaster when the BCA sued Simon Singh, lost, and caused immense reputational damage to chiropractic worldwide.
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