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Deadly twist: Neck adjustments can be risky

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  • Deadly twist: Neck adjustments can be risky

    By Jennifer Wolff

    Updated: 10:51 a.m. PT June 17, 2007
    Christa Heck lay crumpled on her right side in the front seat of her SUV, staring helplessly at the dashboard. She tried to right herself, but her body wouldn’t obey her brain: One arm was limp, the other floundering uncontrollably. Ten minutes earlier, she’d been at her chiropractor’s office for a routine follow-up. But something had obviously gone wrong. Lying virtually paralyzed across her passenger seat, “all I could do was pray someone would help me,” she recalls. “I thought I was going to die.”

    Heck, a 43-year-old mother of four from Mahopac, New York, had been seeing a chiropractor on and off for 20 years to treat headaches and lower-back pain. A pharmaceutical representative, she spent her days driving to sales calls and her nights working long hours at the computer. A few visits to adjust her back and cervical spine — the bones that run up through the neck — always relieved the strain. “I had the impression that it was good for health maintenance,” she says. “Not once had I been told there were risks involved.”

    In November 2003, she’d had her first visit with a new chiropractor recommended by a friend. He snapped her neck to one side, then to the other, and she felt the same pop she had many times before. But 24 hours later, her head still hurt. Then, while cooking dinner, “I turned my head to the left, and the room started spinning and I felt nauseous. It lasted only a second,” she says. “I thought it was an inner ear infection.”

    The next day, Heck returned to the chiropractor and told him about her vertigo, nausea and hurting head. “Let me see if I can get rid of that headache,” Heck says he told her, twisting her head to one side until it popped. When he twisted to the other side, however, it didn’t crack. He told her to take a deep breath and relax, then massaged her neck briefly before placing his hands on both sides of her head to try again. Once more, her neck didn’t pop. “I felt this wave of nausea,” Heck recalls. “I left the office a little dazed.”

    Minutes later, Heck pulled her car up to a convenience store to get some ginger ale to settle her stomach. But when she shifted her SUV into park, she collapsed, the motor still running. She tried grabbing her cell phone, but her hands flailed. Eventually, she inched it between her fingers and after several tries managed to press the keys to speed-dial her husband, Ed. “All he says he heard was me crying and slurring my words, but he couldn’t make out any of them,” she says. Finally, Ed recognized two words: Red Mills, the name of the convenience mart. “He was 45 minutes away,” Heck says. “I was terrified.”

    By the time her husband arrived, Heck felt a little better. She was weak but could sit up and talk. They considered dialing 911 but knew an ambulance would take her to a hospital where Ed once had a bad experience. So instead, he drove her home.

    The next day, Heck awoke feeling numb on the right side of her body. Her left eyelid drooped, and the right side of her face was frozen. When she walked, both feet dragged. Ed called family friend M. Mehdi Kazmi, M.D., assistant clinical professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. As the doctor quizzed her over the phone, Heck mentioned she’d just visited a chiropractor.

    “Oh, Christa,” he said. “I need to see you right away.”



    Deadly twist: Neck adjustments can be risky
    It seems as if one fails to conceive
    The meaning my name strives to achieve

    To a biological form you cannot relate-
    Because a reproductive cell is a gamete not gamate!

    It means to unite, -to become consolidated
    So without me in a.com, is there hope we'd be amalgamated?


  • #2
    Continued...

    Dr. Kazmi examined her only a few minutes before he escorted her across the street to Montefiore Medical Center, where doctors took scans of her neck and brain. “Christa is lucky to be alive,” he says. “I knew the moment I saw her that she had had a stroke.” And he is convinced that the stroke was caused by Heck’s neck adjustment, which tore a critical artery that keeps blood flowing to the brain. “I see at least two cases like this or worse a year,” Dr. Kazmi says. “Cervical manipulation is a preposterous thing to do, and it should be banned.”

    Americans make some 250 million visits to a chiropractor each year, and 105 million of those appointments include neck manipulations, according to the American Chiropractic Association in Arlington, Virginia. In addition to being used for neck, back and headache pain, the treatment is purported by some chiropractors to ease ailments as diverse as asthma, PMS and attention deficit disorder.

    Chiropractic theory holds that when vertebrae become misaligned, they may put pressure on nerves along the spine, interrupting the nerves’ signals to the rest of the body. “Through improving the functioning of the joints, you are at the very least improving overall health,” says ACA spokesman William J. Lauretti, assistant professor at New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls. “When a spinal joint is not functioning properly, it’s a chronic irritant to the nervous system.”

    Introduced in the late 19th century by the founder of chiropractic medicine, Daniel David Palmer — a Canadian schoolteacher who became famous for his healing touch — neck adjustments are given routinely and repeatedly by U.S. chiropractors, as well as some physicians, physical therapists and massage therapists. But despite patients’ enthusiasm for the neck adjustment — 45 percent of respondents to a Self.com poll said they had seen a chiropractor — researchers have not produced definitive proof of its medical value.

    In 1996, several chiropractic groups commissioned a study from the Rand Corporation, an independent research company in Santa Monica, California; Rand reported that there have not been enough studies to show long-term benefits from cervical manipulations for neck, head and shoulder pain and only sparse evidence of short-term relief. A 2005 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reached a similar conclusion. Earlier this year, an evaluation of chiropractic visits and other complementary treatments for lower-back pain conducted by Harvard Medical School in Boston found the therapies “did not result in clinically significant improvements in symptom relief or functional restoration.” (The researchers did not track whether patients were getting neck adjustments specifically, but the ACA estimates 42 percent of appointments include them.)

    Deadly twist: Neck adjustments can be risky
    It seems as if one fails to conceive
    The meaning my name strives to achieve

    To a biological form you cannot relate-
    Because a reproductive cell is a gamete not gamate!

    It means to unite, -to become consolidated
    So without me in a.com, is there hope we'd be amalgamated?

    Comment


    • #3
      'How a neck crack leads to a stroke
      Chiropractic theory holds that adjusting the cervical spine can ease pain. However, this action may tear one of the vertebral arteries, which run through either side of the spine and provide blood to the brain. In rare cases twisting can tear the nearby carotid arteries. If the whole artery or its inner lining tears, a blood clot may form. If a clot moves into the brain via the cerebral arteries, the result is a stroke.'
      It seems as if one fails to conceive
      The meaning my name strives to achieve

      To a biological form you cannot relate-
      Because a reproductive cell is a gamete not gamate!

      It means to unite, -to become consolidated
      So without me in a.com, is there hope we'd be amalgamated?

      Comment


      • #4
        wow... so if you crack ur own neck u can kill yourself??!!

        Comment


        • #5
          yes unfortunately most people do not care for neck adjustments (or maybe they do and they forget about it)
          so check it before driving a car wether all is set properly.

          Comment

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