Are Chiropractic Adjustments Safe? Facts You Need to Know

The short answer is, yes. The longer answer is, generally yes, with rare exceptions.

Chiropractic malpractice insurance costs about $1,300 annually, which reflects the general safety of chiropractic adjustments and treatment. However, there is the uncommon risk of aggravating disc herniations with chiropractic adjustments. And the more rare risk of causing an arterial injury in the neck from neck adjustments. This is a bit of a controversial topic in chiropractic because critics of chiropractic will cite this risk as reason to avoid chiropractic treatment. And I, personally, eschew neck adjustments for patients for this reason. It is rare and catastrophic.

Chiropractic malpractice insurance companies share information with chiropractors about the causes of malpractice cases, which they have to defend. The most common reason for such cases is that a chiropractor may miss a diagnosis in a patient and treat them too long without referring them to another provider.

For example, sometimes cancer, especially metastatic cancer, will present as spinal pain. If the chiropractor treats this complaint for a prolonged period of time, without improvement, and does not make an appropriate referral for diagnostic testing and/or to another provider for evaluation, this can be cause for a malpractice suit.

It can be ok to miss a cancer diagnosis for a short while, but not for a protracted period of time, without improvement, and with continued treatment which demonstrates no appropriately, expected improvement.

Another potential cause of malpractice suits against chiropractors is the aggravation of a disc herniation in the neck or back from the chiropractic adjustment. But these claims are usually not sufficiently provable as valid, since the patient probably had a disc problem before, and symptomatic exacerbation of pain is not really a case of malpractice.

Fewer cases of malpractice might arise from breaking a rib in an osteoporotic patient from doing a chiropractic adjustment. It is interesting to note that chiropractors are among the most popular doctors with their patients. And patients tend not to bring lawsuits against doctors that they like, and who they feel care about them.

Lastly, the most rare, and catastrophic injuries caused by chiropractors are injuries to the arteries in the neck. The usual injury, when it happens is called a dissection of the vertebral arteries. These are the little arteries in the neck that travel through the holes of the vertebrae and and called the vertebral arteries. When the bones of your neck are rotated by a chiropractor who does neck adjustments, those arteries can be traumatized internally. And the layers of the artery can be separated, resulting in blood traveling between the layers of the artery, causing a dissection between the layers.

These rare injuries can result in paralysis and other, permanent neurologic injury. I met a chiropractor who told me of another chiropractor who paralyzed another chiropractor with a chiropractic adjustment. In my 37 years of practice I have never encountered a direct episode of such an injury. As rare as they are, they are devastating to all involved. And they will result in millions of dollars of loss for all parties.

So that is the ugly side of chiropractic treatment. All human, medical interventions and treatments have potential risks. And all treatment should
be approached with a cost/benefit analysis.

So if you’re looking for a chiropractor in Stone Mountain, Ga or chiropractic Stone Mountain Ga, please call me at 404-558-4015. To learn more go to

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