Patient-reported side effects immediately after chiropractic scoliosis treatment: a cross-sectional survey utilizing a practice-based research network

Scoliosis. 2015 Oct 5;10:29. doi: 10.1186/s13013-015-0053-8. eCollection 2015.


Background: Concern exists regarding the potential for chiropractic treatment to cause adverse effects in individuals with scoliosis. The aim of this paper is to present the self-reported responses of 189 scoliosis patients over 3198 unique visits, collected over one calendar year from nine chiropractic clinics, regarding how they felt and the side effects they experienced immediately after chiropractic treatment.

Methods: Thirty six private chiropractic clinics specializing in the treatment of scoliosis were asked to participate in a prospective study regarding the side-effects of the chiropractic treatment of scoliosis; 9 agreed to participate. A response form was provided to each scoliosis patient at the end of their clinic visit, and consisted of two questions: "How do you feel after your treatment today?" and "Did you experience any side-effects as a result of your treatment today?"

Results: One hundred eighty nine informed consent forms were collected and 3198 response forms were collected, suggesting an average of 17 visits per patient. Patients reported feeling worse post-treatment after 5.0 % of the visits. The incidence of side-effects was 29.7 %. Muscle soreness accounted for 35.2 % of all side effects. 99.9 % of all side effects were classified as mild. Six moderate side-effects (sprains/strains) were reported out of 3,198 visits. There were no reported cases of severe side effects.

Conclusion: Mild side effects were common, although the frequency was slightly lower than the average for chiropractic interventions. The rate of moderate side effects reported was one per 533 visits involving the care of 189 scoliosis patients surveyed from 9 chiropractic offices over a timeframe of one calendar year. No serious adverse events occurred that required medical attention, hospital stays, or surgical intervention. Based upon this preliminary data, side effects reported by scoliosis patients immediately after chiropractic treatment appear to be relatively common but generally benign.