I want to identify some of the risks of chiropractic manipulations for people and understand what this treatment is all about.
The basis of chiropractic medicine is that the spine has sublaxations that cause disease and pain and if these are taken care of, they can both be relieved.
Proper Diagnosis - One of the main issues is that you will not receive the proper diagnosis from a chiropractor either from a spinal problem or other illness you are going for.
Why - The physical examination to determine a spinal injury takes an expert. There are only a few individuals in the country that can determine what is wrong by physical examine. Please go to the site Whiplash101. It will tell you what type of examine you should have to determine spinal problems. For other illnesses chiropractors are manipulating your spine in hopes that it will help you. This is not sound medical treatment since there are so many risks.
Additionally, the physical examine should be confirmed with diagnostic testing. Guess what, the static X-Rays that chiropractors use do not show soft tissue damage including ligament, joint and muscle damage. A static MRI also will not show this damage, however, it may show herniated discs/fractures etc., which the static X-Ray will not show. The only tests that show soft tissue damage accurately is the motion X-Rays and dynamic MRI's. Most of your physicians, yes even rehab doctors, will never have heard of these tests since they are relatively new. I could not find the dynamic MRI in my state, however, I was able to locate the motion X-Ray studies. Do not obtain any type of treatment without the proper diagnosis.
Not recognized by Insurance Companies Anymore- Chiropractic manipulations are the ninth most billed medical procedure in the United States. Many insurance companies have cancelled payment for chiropractic manipulations because of the abuse and I quote from the article I read "dubious" outcomes. There is little evidence other than someone's brother's uncle that claims they are cured. Per the article, the chiropractors were billing for sublaxations without examination or X-Rays. Everyone that walked into the office had a sublaxation. And, it was totally subjective what a sublaxation was and determined by the chiropractor. Most people continue to go to chiropractors for years for the same problem. This should tell you that this technique is not curative.
Risks - Most chiropractors will tell you that the risks are relatively small. Most incidences, go unreported since soft tissue damage in the past was extremely difficult to prove. You may think soft tissue damage will heal. Soft tissue damage to ligaments and joints is extrememly difficult to heal because of the poor blood supply. These injuries can have dire consequences since ligaments and joints house nerves. One doctor that treats these injuries states in his book, "it can be the most excruiciating injury a person can experience because of the nerve disfunction and may effect not only the area that is injured, but all four extremeties". Some chiropractors make you sign a waiver before treating you explaining the risks. This claims they are not responsible if they make a mistake. I would understand the risks identified in this documentation. Some of them include: paralysis, nerve damage, soft tissue damage including ligament, joint and muscular damage. A women was paralyzed from one maniuplation when she went for headaches. She now has run out of money for her care even though she sued and received $1.3 million. Please talk to your internist, a neurologist and physical therapist regarding the types of injuries they treat from chiropractors and get a second opinion. The people who treat the mistakes are the best source of knowledge of the risks since they see the mishaps on a daily basis. They will tell you mainly nerve and instability injuries.
Manipulations in the long run will lead to instability of the spine. Every time a manipulation is done, this may loosen the ligaments that hold the spine together. Each person is so different, therefore one maniupulation may cause laxity in one person whereas 20 may cause it in another individual. Loosening the area may feel good initially since most of us are tight because of muscle strain. Over the long run, this can cause permanent nerve damage when the joints move to much and if done to the neck, permanent neck strain. Also, there is no FDA approved treatment for ligament laxity. You will suffer for the rest of your life with this. Please read the expert opinions on ligament laxity caused by manipulations under scoliosis on this website under Dr. Kim. It is explained very well. I would not recommend cranial sacral therapy either because of the risks as Dr. Kim does.
Please take a look at the websites I mentioned and the forum on scoliosis as it talks about manipulations over the long run.
Please also take a look at the nervous system and spine on the web. It will become clear to you why nerve damage is so risky with manipulations.
I hope this can help you receive the proper treatment and avoid injury. I was seriously injured by a chiropractor when I was 20 years old. The chiropractor had me come in twice a week for 3-4 months for headaches. No ones spine requires that many manipulations. This person risked my life for a lousy couple of thousand dollars that he made off me. I started having symptoms of instability (I did not know what was wrong), however, he insisted it would go away if he just did some more maniupulations and he told me it was neck strain and caused by something I did even though I never had these symptoms before. I ended up with Stage 3 whiplash after he did manipulations for two days in a row, permanent nerve damage in both my arms and legs, ligament and facet joint damage. It has effected my entire spine since a neck injury can effect every level below it. He went back and altered my records months after I was hurt. He claims I would have had nerve damage anyway from what he was treating me for and that I am psycotic. With whiplash the spine becomes inflamed, you are unable to turn your neck (it completely locks up) and unfortunately in my case due to the permanent instability he caused, permanent nerve damage. The doctors give me no chance of recovery now. They had hoped that the nerves would calm down over time, however were not able to diagnose the instability because the test were not out. I live on anti-seizure medications with 24/7 nausea from being in so much pain all the time. I am unable to live any time of normal life. I rarely sleep or particpate in any normal type of activity because of the pain. I was an amazing athlete before I was hurt. I particpated in intramural sports and hiked and swam at least four times per week.
My advice to you is to do your homework. There is enough information on the internet to make informed decisions. I have put all the knowledge I have gained out here for you to help you receive the appropriate treatment. I would give $1 billion dollars to go backwards and have this knowledge before I embarked on any type of treatment. If this does help you in anyway please let me know.