By Dr David Laing Dawson
Some years ago my father, then in his 80’s, suffered dizziness and syncope following a visit to his chiropractor. Now, I didn’t know he went to a chiropractor, or I would have been all over him before this. But this time, he had a neck adjustment and I found out because of the symptoms it caused afterward.
I made him promise to never visit a chiropractor again. I explained the anatomy of the neck to him, and the fragility of his arteries, cartilage and bones at his age.
When patients tell me they go to chiropractors I tell them, okay, but do not let them “adjust” you. Go for the massage, the muscle stretching. No adjustments. Especially the neck. Do not let them go near your neck. There are rather important things running up and down your neck.
Had my father died from his neck adjustment it would not have made the news. Because of his age we may never have known the cause. He lived till the age of 95 and died of cancer surrounded by his children and grandchildren.
But I see in the news a beautiful woman and mother (Katie May) just died from a neck adjustment. She developed what she called a “pinched nerve” in her neck on a photo shoot and went to see her chiropractor who “adjusted” her neck. The adjustment tore an artery and she died.
Do not let chiropractors go near your neck.
Adjustments are nonsense procedures of course. And when it involves the neck, also dangerous.
What chiropractors tell you they are doing when they “adjust” your spine, they are not doing. In fact, they cannot do it. Or to put it another way, if they actually had the strength to force a shift in the alignment of your vertebrae, this procedure would be even more dangerous. It would risk the integrity of the spinal cord. But they don’t have the strength to do that, except when the cartilage is brittle, the ligaments are old and infirm, the muscle wasted, and the bone is porous – as in aging. (Although I must admit there is a moment in many violent thrillers when one character breaks the neck of another in what looks suspiciously like a “cervical spine adjustment”.)
Those “pinched nerves” we talk about are seldom pinched nerves. They are inflamed ligaments and muscles from acute or chronic stress. The muscle may be in spasm. An acute muscle spasm can be stretched out as I do with my calf when I awaken in the night with a cramp, and trainers do on the football field. Other than that the inflamed, sore muscle or ligament responds to heat and rest, and, when persistent, anti-inflammatories.
That crick in the neck we get from sleeping awkwardly? Same thing. And left alone it will heal. There is no need for serious intervention. Especially interventions that are
1. Entirely bogus and 2. Very dangerous.