A common procedure for easing neck pain has come under fire from experts who argue ‘cervical spine manipulation’ could trigger a stroke.
Chiropractors regularly ‘crack’ a patient’s spine to treat neck and back pain - but experts writing in the British Medical Journal suggest that applying thrusts to the neck area of the spine could have damaging knock-on health effects.
Neil O'Connell, from the Centre for Research and Rehabilitation at Brunel University and colleagues argue that cervical spine manipulation "may carry the potential for serious neurovascular complications" reports the BBC.
They also say that studies "provide consistent evidence of an association between neurovascular injury and recent exposure to cervical manipulation." Such injuries include tearing the lining of the vertebral artery, which is located in the neck and supplies blood to the brain, and stroke.
As a result, the study’s authors have labelled the treatment “unnecessary and inadvisable”.
According to their report, the controversy surrounding the association between manipulation and neurovascular complications is longstanding and not fully resolved, partly because it is difficult to obtain conclusive evidence on rare adverse events.
However, the authors do accept that the incidences of of stroke resulting from spine cracking are very low.
According to Daily Mail, an epidemiologist from Toronto University in Canada, Professor David Cassidy, said there was evidence that neck manipulation benefited patients and has cast doubt on whether it causes strokes.
He suggested neck pain and headache may be an early sign of tearing of the vertebral artery, prompting the visit to chiropractor in the first place.
As a result, a problem which is pre-existing may wrongly be attributed to manipulation, reports the Daily Mail.