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OK, so you’ve probably heard, by now, about a relatively isolated incident in which a person had a stroke shortly after a chiropractic session.

Now, let’s forget for a moment that there are literally millions of spinal adjustments each day throughout the world.

In other words, let’s forget that such odds, if ever validated, remain far, far, far less than your chances of, say, dying due to anesthesia.


Let’s forget all that for a moment.

Let’s also forgive the family of the aforementioned soul for lashing out at chiropractic care in their quest for answers. Grief’s a tough nut, and everyone deals with it in his/her own unique way. No doubt, grief can be truly debilitating for some.

So, we can forgive them.

Instead, let’s focus on the truth.

What is the truth?

Well…it goes something like this:

There’s no evidence to support the claim that chiropractic care causes strokes.


Now, you don’t have to take my word for it. I’m just some guy penning an article, right?

And, in reality, I’m a biased soul; I love chiropractic care. I can’t imagine a life without it. While I don’t have much physical pain in my life, I am one of those people that just seems to always be “a little out.”

And I savor the feeling of “being put back in.”

Therefore, I love the stuff.

And I’m biased.

But science isn’t.

So, let’s take a look at the empirical data, shall we?

Chiropractic Care Does Not Cause Stroke

How about a brand new study, one that appears in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease?

In the study, Canadian researchers compiled meta-data—that is, they gathered all the studies they could find on the subject. They did so for a nine-year period. Researchers compared more than 15,000 cases. Each individual had been admitted to a hospital, at some point, with a carotid artery stroke. The research team examined data from chiropractic sessions 1, 3, 7, and 14 days prior to such strokes.

The Research Findings

The research team’s conclusion?

“We found no excess risk of carotid artery stroke after chiropractic care. Associations between chiropractic and primary care physicians (PCP) visits and stroke were similar and likely due to patients with early dissection-related symptoms seeking care prior to developing their strokes.”

What’s this statement actually mean?

It’s scientist speak for, “There’s absolutely no evidence that chiropractic care causes strokes.”

Wow, huh?

In Conclusion

A team of reputable researchers, publishing in a journal all about strokes

Finds not one shred of evidence to support the claim that chiropractic care causes strokes.

Time to put away the fear and offer your chiropractor a big hug. He/she’s helping you heal…

It is important to remember that physical, chemical, and emotional stresses can cause the spine to subluxate and interfere with proper function in the body.  It is easy to understand how a physical stress, such as falling, lifting, or repeated motions, can cause subluxations.  Chemical stresses may be a little more difficult to understand, but after a little explanation people see how chemicals and poisons in the body affect the spinal musculature and can also cause the spine to subluxate.  Similarly, emotional stress can also result in subluxations.  There are probably a number of mechanisms, but research[i]  done at Ohio State University (OSU) has recently demonstrated some interesting results:

A group of college students repeatedly lifted 25-pound boxes while a measuring device calculated the pressure on the students’ spines.  During the first half of the experiment, researchers offered words of encouragement to the participants while they were performing their tasks.  In the second half of the experiment, the students were criticized while lifting the boxes.  While some of the students were not bothered at all by the negative comments, others such as those who do not handle criticism well or those that dislike repetitive work, demonstrated an almost 27% increase in pressure on the spine.  Clearly, a 27% increase of pressure on the spine could subluxate a person.  William Marras, professor of industrial engineering at OSU said, “What this shows is that there is a body-mind interaction that manifests itself as pressure on the spine.”

This study was limited to job-related emotional and physical pressures, but they concluded that the same findings could occur “anywhere exertion and stress combine.”  That could be the pressure of athletic competition or even non-physical stressful situations like talking on the phone with the head titled at an angle, sitting at a computer, or any kind of repetitive work while experiencing additional emotional stress.

Except for major physical traumas, it is likely that almost all subluxations occur as a result of a combination of physical, chemical, and emotional stresses upon the body.  Clearly, if you are subluxation free you will be better able to withstand those forces.  Yet, in this stressful world even the strongest spines will subluxate given certain circumstances.  That is why it is important to keep your spine adjusted, so that you can withstand stress and so that when it does cause a subluxation, it can be corrected as quickly as possible.

Chiropractic is not meant to get rid of ear infections or any other disease or medical condition.  You’re probably thinking to yourself, “What?!?!”  It’s true, Chiropractic is not meant to get rid of any disease or medical condition, including ear infections.  My one purpose as a Chiropractor is to help your body decrease the size and/or number of vertebral subluxations you have.  (vertebral subluxation= bone of your spine out of place putting pressure on your the nerve roots exiting your spinal cord and your spinal cord itself)

Getting your spine checked regularly helps your body communicate and power itself better by taking pressure off of your nerves.  Result: your body works better.  The studies below were done in an attempt to prove Chiropractic helps get rid of ear infections in kids.  They do indeed show that Chiropractic does help kids who have ear infections.

This should not come as much of a surprise to you because as you know, the nervous system controls all functions within our bodies.  But why weren’t all of the kids in the study helped?  Really, they were all helped, just not all of their ear infection symptoms went away.  “What?!?!”  If you take pressure off of a nerve, the body is ALWAYS better off, you just might not get the relief in symtoms that you want.  Many different factors cause ear infections and usually it is a combination of things, which is why you will never find a study where Chiropractic helped get rid of 100% of ear infections or 100% of any disease or condition including the infamous “back pain” case.

Chiropractic doesn’t get rid of ear infections, it takes pressure off nerve roots and the spinal cord.  Taking pressure off your nerves is always a good thing, regardless of what is going on with your health or in your life.

This is why you get your spine checked for vertebral subluxations regularly.  You don’t just go because your back hurts, you have a headache or you heard Chiropractic can help kids with ear infections.  If this is the only time you go, you are only using a minute fraction of the benefits Chiropractic has to offer.  Regular spinal checks make sure your body’s nervous system is firing on all cylinders.  Your brain is the master controller and it needs clear lines of communication to run your body at its best.  Chiropractic adjustments keep the lines of communication open.

Get your child’s spine checked for vertebral subluxations if they don’t have an ear infection, get their spine checked for vertebral subluxations if they do have an ear infection.

Remember kids 18 & under are adjusted for FREE at my office as long as one of their parents is getting adjusted.

By: Dr. Peter Ahlers-Nelson, D.C.

1. Chiropractic and Ear Infection Study #1
-46 Children, age 5 and under
-93% of all episodes improved, 75% in 10 days or fewer and 43% with only one or two treatments.
J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1996 Mar-Apr;19(3):169-77.

2. Chiropractic and Ear Infection Study #2
-332 Children
-80% of the children did not experience another ear infection within the six-month period following their initial visits. The six-month period included maintenance treatments every four to six weeks.
Fallon JM. The Role of the Chiropractic Adjustment in the Care and Treatment of 332 Children with Otitis Media. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics. 1997; Volume 2, No. 2:167-183.