Patients frequently ask about the risk of stroke from a chiropractic cervical spine adjustment. Until recently the only thing that could be said is that the incidence is very low, that a proper physical examination could reduce risk and that it was suspected that certain techniques were more likely to induce stroke.
A study cited in the Journal of the California Chiropractic Association seems to indicate that there is very little chance of chiropractic ever inducing a stroke. The study performed by Cassidy, et al in Canada review all residents of Ontario, Canada over a 9 year period. This represents 109 million observed person years. Even for someone not familiar with scientific method, it is easy to see that this is a huge sampling.
In comparing the incidence of stroke between people who visited a chiropractor with people who had visited their primary care provider as well as the rest of the general population, it was found that a visit to the chiropractor slightly raised the "observed risk" (OR) for stroke but a visit to a medical doctor did so as well. It was hypothesized that early symptoms of stroke caused patients to visit their DC or MD.
The fact is that there is really only a handful of stroke cases even remotely associated with chiropractic. To keep this in perspective, 33,000 people die from over the counter pain medication every year.
Nonetheless, as a practitioner, it is my obligation to remain vigilant regarding risks of stroke as well as other injuries. On the other hand, please be assured that Chiropractic is a safe and effective treatment.
Chiropractic malpractice insurance cost ranges from $3,200 to $4,500 for a full-time practitioner. Considering that premiums are based on paid claims, this is a very low amount.