Safety of Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractic is often a subject of debate in terms of whether the potential benefits that may result from the treatment actually outweigh the possible risks. There have been numerous dangers associated with chiropractic, this is primarily due to the lack of experience held by the chiropractor and because the procedures done are most frequently performed on the spine. Any slip up that occurs when manipulating the spine can have serious consequences. However, many people do benefit significantly from chiropractic treatment and the quality of their lives has drastically improved.

Potential risks of Chiropractic treatment

There are several key risks that anyone should be fully aware of before committing him or herself to undergoing chiropractic treatment.

  • Unqualified chiropractors – It is a common misunderstanding to believe that chiropractors are just as qualified as doctors. However, they are not at all. Chiropractors do not need to undergo medical training to such an extent as a qualified doctor. They do, however, have to be educated and coached to reach a sufficient standard. The chiropractor must then prove their worth to the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) so they can be registered. Before undergoing chiropractic treatment, ensure that your chiropractor is registered with this board. You can do so by either asking the chiropractor to see the appropriate documentation or you can even search the chiropractor through the GCC.
  • Chiropractic views on anti-vaccination – The idea behind chiropractic treatment is that it can rid the body of conditions without using medication. The practise tends to reject the theories behind the purposes of vaccinations. This anti-vaccination stance is sometimes preached to parents so they will not vaccinate their children. This advice is not given from a medical background and you should consult you GP if you have any questions about vaccinations.
  • Dynamic thrust – This is a manoeuvre performed by chiropractors to quickly and forcefully manipulate vertebrae. There does not tend to be any warning prior to dynamic thrust being performed, and it does carry a risk of causing spinal injuries. You should discuss this adjustment technique with your chiropractor before undergoing the procedure. If you are at all concerned about it, request that it is not performed on you.
  • X-rays – The waves that are emitted from x-rays can be harmful in large doses. Chiropractors use x-rays in diagnosis of conditions, although for many issues the x-ray does not actually show what is wrong. This means that sometimes x-rays are essentially being overused and that patients are being subjected to unnecessary amounts radiation.
  • Strokes – Chiropractors often carry out neck manipulations in order to relieve a patient of upper-back pain and discomfort as well as migraines. There has, however, been a study carried out by the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences, which concluded that regular chiropractic patients under the age of 45 are significantly more likely to suffer a stroke within a week after undergoing neck manipulation. Although this has since been admitted, as being a risk by chiropractors, they claim there is only a one in a million chance of it actually happening.

Controversy and Criticism of Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractic treatment is often a subject of dispute, especially among medical professionals. The source of the criticism and controversy tends to surround what chiropractors claims their practice can achieve as well as the actually procedures involved.

One area of controversy is over the examination and diagnosis process involving the analysis of shoulder levels to “prove” that there are misaligned vertebrae. Chiropractors diagnose misalignment if the shoulder level is not equal. However, it has been widely suggested that, to an extent, spinal imbalances are present in everyone and that the asymmetry is not caused by vertebrae misalignment. This can then lead to the patient having to pay for and undergo treatment that will not provide any benefits at all as their shoulder imbalance is perfectly natural. This can be very expensive and may cause bodily damage.

A big criticism of chiropractic procedures is the possible danger and risks associated with them. It has been claimed by many that chiropractic treatment may actually cause damage to the spinal column rather than helping it. A big source of this criticism radiates from the “popping” sound heard during a dynamic thrust manoeuvre. Chiropractors claim that this pop is due to the vertebrae falling back into alignment. However, other people believe that the noise actually comes from cartilage releasing a gas bubble, which has no benefit to spinal health.

X-ray usage is another common cause of chiropractic related controversy. X-rays emit ionising radiation when they are taken. This is not an issue in controlled and small doses; however, some chiropractors grossly overuse x-rays during diagnosis, which can cause bodily harm and contribute to the formation of cancer. This is especially an issue if the chiropractor takes x-rays of the entire torso as a massive amount of radiation is administered in doing so. In terms of objection to this controversy, chiropractors now tend to strongly justify why the x-ray is essential to examination and diagnosis.

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