Neurologic complications following chiropractic manipulation: a survey of California neurologists

Neurology. 1995 Jun;45(6):1213-5. doi: 10.1212/wnl.45.6.1213.


To obtain an estimate of how often practicing neurologists in California encounter unexpected strokes, myelopathies, or radiculopathies following chiropractic manipulation, we surveyed each member of the American Academy of Neurology in California and inquired about the number of patients evaluated over the preceding 2 years who suffered a neurologic complication within 24 hours of chiropractic manipulation. Four hundred eighty-six neurologists were surveyed, 177 responded; 55 strokes, 16 myelopathies, and 30 radiculopathies were reported. Patients were between the ages of 21 and 60, and the majority experienced complications following cervical manipulation. Most of the patients continued to have persistent neurologic deficits 3 months after the onset, and about one-half had marked or severe deficits. Nearly all of the strokes involved the posterior circulation and almost one-half were angiographically proven. Patients, physicians, and chiropractors should be aware of the risk of neurologic complications associated with chiropractic manipulation.

MeSH terms

  • Carotid Artery Injuries
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / etiology*
  • Chiropractic / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Spinal Nerves / injuries*
  • Vascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Vertebral Artery / injuries