The life of a Canadian woman has forever changed in the wake of a stroke she suffered after a chiropractor visit. Now facing a long recovery ahead of her, she decided to finally speak out to hopefully prevent others from suffering the same fate.
Calgary Mom Has Stroke After A Chiropractor Visit
On January 29, 2021, Calgary, Alberta native Barbara Shand went to the chiropractor to relieve some nagging neck pain. As they came toward the end of the session, the practitioner asked her if she would like her neck adjusted. At the time, Shand thought that sounded wonderful. After all, she came in because of neck pain, so why not? Unexpectedly, the second the chiropractor performed the adjustment, Shand’s world changed. (1)
“As soon as she did it, everything went black,” Shand recalled. “When I did open my eyes, I couldn’t focus. It was all blurry, I had massive vertigo, I didn’t know what was up or down,” (1)
They rushed her to the hospital, where the doctors determined she had suffered a stroke after the chiropractor visit. To be more specific, she had a right vertebral artery dissection, meaning that one of the four major arteries responsible for carrying blood to her brain was completely torn. (1)
Not The First Patient To Have A Stroke After A Chiropractor Visit
This type of arterial injury that Shand suffered can happen in sports injuries and car accidents. However, the American Heart Association (AHA) is now warning of another potential cause: the type of quick, thrusting movements (Cervical spine manipulation) Chiropractors and some other healthcare practitioners use for neck adjustments. (2)
The AHA released a statement in 2014 that warned against such treatments. Currently, the risk of this happening to you is very low; however, not impossible. (3) It is also still unclear whether or not vertebral artery dissection occurs because of the neck adjustment or if there was already an unknown injury there that the adjustment made worse. (2) When it is seen, it is often seen in younger patients. (4)
The Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors acknowledge the reported stroke cases; however, it still maintains that this procedure is safe and low risk. (1)
“The scientific evidence does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship between chiropractic treatment and the occurrence of stroke. Cervical spine manipulation (neck adjustment) has been, and continues to be, studied extensively to determine its safety and clinical effectiveness. Studies continue to point to the fact that risk of serious adverse effects associated with neck adjustments are very low, making this form of treatment extremely safe.” (1)
Now four months later, Shand is still struggling with things like coordination and balance. Tasks that require more fine motor skills, like flossing her son’s teeth or putting on mascara, are still challenging. Even cooking dinner for her family is difficult because there remains a disconnect between her brain and her hands, making chopping hard. (1) She goes to physiotherapy every day and is also seen by a neurologist. Her neurologist is confident that she will fully recover, but the journey to get there will be a long, difficult one. (1)
“I was in a dark place, and I was very depressed even though I was grateful to be alive,” she said. “I was trusting and comfortable with this treatment and now I’m affected by it for the rest of my life.” (1)
While instances of this occurring are very low, it is important that everyone visiting their chiropractor consider the risks associated with this kind of neck manipulation before having it done. (3)
- “‘I had no idea’: Calgary mom says she had a stroke after a chiropractor visit.” Global News. Jill Croteau. May 18, 2021.
- “Chiropractic neck adjustments linked to stroke.” Health. June 17, 2020.
- “Chiropractic Neck Manipulation and Stroke: What’s the Risk?” Health Blog. Jane Racey Gleeson. August 28, 2017.