There has been an increase in the level of concern about Chiropractic treatment, especially in relation to neck adjustments, over the last few months. Much of this has stemmed from a study that was completed in America quite a while ago. Why it has suddenly been given prominence by some media outlets is unknown. The study concluded that there was a small relationship between chiropractic treatment and vertebral artery injury.
One of the flaws of the study was that it was done as a correlative study i.e. there appears to be a relationship between the two. The problem with this is that it gives no indication of cause and effect, merely points out that the two exist together, in this case to a small level. The media has treated this as a causative study i.e. one causes the other.
The problem this creates is that one of the symptoms of vertebral artery injury is neck pain, therefore which one came first? Was there an injury to the artery that caused neck pain that led to the person seeing a Chiropractor or the other way around?
A more recent study has shown that in order to damage a healthy vertebral artery with manipulation you first need to dislocate the neck. This tends to point against the conclusions drawn by the original study.
It does seem strange that there is so much concern about Chiropractic treatment especially when you compare it with the other options. Neck surgery has a 3-4% risk of complications and in a study comparing Chiropractic to a course of anti inflammatory drugs, Chiropractic was shown to be 250 times safer!
To put all this into perspective if you drive your car to your chiropractic appointment then you have a significantly greater chance of being injured in a car accident than from your Chiropractic care.