It has been reported that a young woman’s visit to a chiropractor left her unable to walk due to a torn artery.
Mariah Bond, 29, went to visit a chiropractor in the hope to get some relief from her neck pain. During the appointment, the chiropractor quickly twisted her neck from side to side. “It cracked both ways and I’d seen chiropractor videos so I thought it was normal but when I stood up I got super dizzy,” Mariah recalled. Next, Mariah started profusely vomiting and her hand began to tingle. Then she was rushed to a hospital.
It took a few hours before the doctors could find the diagnosis. “I was still throwing up constantly, it was non-stop. I couldn’t open my eyes because if I did I’d start throwing up because I was so dizzy,” Mariah said. “I was transferred via ambulance to another hospital where they did a CT scan and confirmed that I was having a stroke.”
It turned out that Mariah’s chiropractor dissected an artery in her neck which then limited the blood supply to the brain. Mariah was kept in the hospital for five days while her condition was monitored. During that time, she was left unable to walk. But slowly she did become able to rely on a zimmer frame to get around. “I couldn’t walk properly or correctly use my hands to eat, it was like I was a child. It was very weird. My brain was there but I couldn’t do it,” she stated. “My first stroke was a cerebral stroke and they were saying that I probably had a mini-stroke as I was having weird feelings in my legs. They were very confused because that wasn’t common with the stroke I had, so they said that I probably had two.”
Within a fortnight, Mariah was able to walk again but had to have physiotherapy for two months before she could return to work. After her last CT scan, she received the good news that the dissected vessel had completely healed. She said: “I was very strong-willed at the time because everyone was telling me how well I was handling this. I think my husband was more scared than I was, poor thing.”
Mariah has vowed never to visit a chiropractor again and is doing her best to raise awareness of the damage they can cause. “I was shocked because I’m so young and you don’t really hear about young people having strokes, especially from the chiropractor. I’m pretty paranoid with my neck now. I know I probably shouldn’t be but sometimes if I have a weird feeling in my head, it would probably be called PTSD, I automatically start thinking am I having a stroke? I start freaking out. I’d tell people not to go to a chiropractor. I’ve already told a million people not to do it. Just don’t go or at least don’t let them do your neck.”
I would be surprised if this case ever got written up as a proper case report and published in a medical journal. We did a survey years ago where we found over 35 cases of severe complications after chiropractic in the UK within a period of 12 months. The most amazing result was that none of these cases had been published. In other words, under-reporting was precisely 100%.
Mariah’s case might be a true rarety, or it might be a fairly common event. It might be a most devastating occurrence, or there could be far worse events.
We simply do not know because under-reporting is huge.
Meanwhile, chiropractors – the professionals who should long have made sure that under-reporting becomes minimal or non-existent – claim that there is no evidence that strokes happen at all or regularly or often. They can do this because the medical literature seems to confirm their opinion. The only reporting system that seems to exist, the “chiropractic patient incident reporting and learning system” (CPiRLS), is for several reasons woefully inadequate and also plagued by under-reporting.
So, what advice can I possibly give to consumers in such a situation? I feel that the only thing one can recommend is to
stay well clear of chiropractors
until they finally present us with sufficient and convincing data.