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Adding Up Symptoms after Chiropractic Care

Posted on: 11/30/1999
Have you ever had chiropractic care for neck pain and felt worse the next day? You're not alone. According to this study, one-third of all patients treated with neck manipulation have symptoms within 24 hours. Pain, stiffness, dizziness, or headache are the most common problems.

Neck pain patients in four southern California health care clinics were included in this study. Patients were put into various groups. Two groups received manipulation with or without heat. Two other groups were treated by manipulation with and without electrical stimulation. Some patients were also treated with mobilization with and without heat or electrical stimulation.

Researchers wanted to find out how many patients had a bad reaction to chiropractic care. They compared responses to manipulation and mobilization. They also looked for ways to tell who might have a bad reaction to the treatment.

The authors report that women and all adults between the ages of 30 and 39 are slightly more likely to report a reaction to chiropractic care. Most symptoms began within 24 hours of treatment. Symptoms went away within 24 hours. Symptoms didn't affect daily activities. Heat and electrical stimulation didn't seem to make a difference. Fewer patients had problems after mobilization versus manipulation.

The results of this study show that adverse reactions to chiropractic care for neck pain occur in three out of every 10 patients. Symptoms are more likely to occur after manipulation. Chiropractors may want to use mobilization in some patients. Neck trauma, high levels of pain, recent nausea, and headache are red flags to suggest the use of mobilization.

Eric L. Hurwitz, DC, PhD, et al. Frequency and Clinical Predictors of Adverse Reactions to Chiropractic Care in the UCLA Neck Pain Study. In Spine. July 2005. Vol. 30. No. 13. Pp. 1477-1484.

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