In the past week I have read two disturbing articles that are making statements regarding the cervical manipulation and verterbrobasilar artery (VBA) stroke. A few patients have had questions regarding these articles, so I wanted to devote a blog post to addressing this issue and calming fears.

Please keep in mind that there are no internet police, people can post anything that they want with little or no oversight. It saddens me that people would perform no actual research, claim that there is no research, and then publish false information with an “intention” of informing the public. Often time the writer’s view on this issue dominates rather than facts which then makes the public to believe that their belief is fact.

While this subject remains controversial, strong evidence demonstrates that the incidence of stroke associated with a Chiropractic cervical manipulation is VERY RARE!  Credible studies have found that a patient is equally likely to experience a dissection after seeing their primary care physician as they are after seeing a Chiropractor. The association between CAD and the cervical manipulation are approximately 1 and 5.85 million adjustments.

The risk of VBA stroke associated with chiropractic visits is related to the fact that the symptoms of dissections mimic those that patients present to Chiropractors for. Symptoms including neck pain and headache are also some of the most common reasons a person would seek out a Chiropractor. Chiropractors are expertly prepared to rule out red flags that would be associated with risk of VBA stroke before treatment. We use your history, detailed physical exam as well as our extensive training and knowledge to diagnose and then decide whether we should adjust the cervical vertebral column or not. Cervical spine manipulation remains a dependable, conservative treatment for headache and neck pain.

If you still have questions or would like to exercise your own investigation, I urge you to check into the following resources:

“Risk of Verterbrobasilar Stroke & Chiropractic Care”

Chiropractic & Stroke: Association or Causation?

Chiropractic Research


Dr. Caitlin

Dr Caitlin
Dr. Caitlin Pietrosanto is a graduate of D'Youville College of Buffalo NY. There she obtained her Doctorate of Chiropractic and Bachelor Degree in Biology. She has completed extensive post-graduate training in Spidertech Taping, Graston technique and is a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic in The State of New York. Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints such as back pain, neck pain, pain in the extremities ,and headaches. When other medical conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition using physiotherapy techniques. These techniques are focused on restoring the structure and function of affected muscle and tissue.

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