The Potential Complications of Chiropractic Therapy

Désirée Lie, MD, MSEd


April 20, 2011

The Potential Complications of Chiropractic Therapy

Julie is a 43-year-old previously healthy woman who presents to her primary care clinician 1 day after a first session of spinal manipulation at a chiropractic office. She had been experiencing chronic headaches for over 2 years that were not responsive to conventional medications. She asked friends for a recommendation for a local chiropractor who recommended both cervical and thoracic manipulation. She now presents with numbness and tingling in both legs that began shortly after treatment and is reported to have ascended upwards over 24 hours. She is alarmed and reports that she now has weakness in both legs and numbness and tingling in her arms. Her medical history was essentially benign with the exception of her frequent headaches, which are not associated with other neurologic complaints. An MRI scan obtained 1 year earlier as part of a comprehensive neurologic evaluation was normal.

Questions to Consider

  • What diagnoses should be considered in the differential diagnosis?

  • What potential adverse effects could occur after cervical or spinal chiropractic manipulation?


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