Controversial neck manipulation may increase risk of stroke

Sep 09, 2010

A study by the University of Sydney has found the 'thrust and click' methods associated with neck manipulation do not result in better patient recovery than milder treatments.

Project lead, Dr. Andrew Leaver from the Faculty of Health Sciences said the study compared common rehabilitation therapies for acute .

"Neck manipulation is a highly controversial treatment as there are published studies that demonstrate an increased risk of stroke in patients that receive neck manipulation," he said.

"Whilst this appears to be a rare occurrence, and there is still some debate about whether manipulation can cause stroke, patients have a right to make an informed choice."

Neck manipulation, which involves the application of a rapid, small thrusting movement to the spine, producing an audible 'click,' is widely used by chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists and other medical practitioners to treat neck pain.

According to Dr. Leaver, the frequently quoted estimate of serious injury following neck manipulation of one in one million, is conservative and does not take into account unreported cases.

"We should also consider the severity of the risk and remember that the condition which people are initially seeking treatment for is a non life-threatening, and mostly self-limiting condition," he said.

With around two-thirds of the population suffering from neck pain at some stage in their lives, it's not uncommon for patients to seek out manipulation based on the belief that it provides more rapid pain relief than other treatments.

The study - carried out in collaboration with the University of Queensland and published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation - compared these techniques with that of mobilisation which involves the use of slow, oscillating movements of the neck joints.

One hundred and eighty two participants with recent onset neck pain were recruited from 12 private chiropractic, and osteopathy clinics in Sydney. All treating practitioners had postgraduate university qualifications and had received specific training in both manipulation and mobilisation.

While both treatments proved effective the outcomes for the two groups were almost identical.

"It makes us question why patients or practitioners would favour a treatment which possibly carries risk of catastrophic outcome over an equally effective one with very few reported complications despite widespread use."

Explore further: Italian army to grow medical marijuana

Provided by University of Sydney

3 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Simple solutions the best for pain in the neck

Feb 28, 2008

It might just be that the most effective solutions to a pain in the neck are the simplest. According to a University of Alberta-led task force assigned the job of finding the best way to take the sting out of neck pain, the ...

Recommended for you

The human race evolved to be fair for selfish reasons

5 hours ago

"Make sure you play fairly," often say parents to their kids. In fact, children do not need encouragement to be fair, it is a unique feature of human social life, which emerges in childhood. When given the o ...

Non-stop PET/CT scan provides accurate images

Sep 18, 2014

Siemens is improving PET/CT imaging and data quality while reducing radiation exposure. The Biograph mCT Flow PET/CT scanner is a new positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) system that, ...

Experts: Chopin's heart shows signs of TB

Sep 17, 2014

The preserved heart of composer Frederic Chopin contains signs of tuberculosis and possibly some other lung disease, medical experts said Wednesday.

User comments : 0