“Did you see that thing on the news?” asked my patient of 13 years.
I was sure I hadn’t since I rarely watch or read news anymore. I guessed she was talking about the same story that was catching most local people’s attention, “Oh, about the bear who fell out of the tree downtown? Sad, isn’t it?”
“No, I mean the chiropractic and stroke thing.”
“Oh!” I said, “Someone just forwarded that to me. The one where the court decided that the force involved in chiropractic adjustments is nowhere near the force required to injure a healthy vertebral artery, and that if there had been sufficient force to injure the artery, there would have been damage to the surrounding bone?”
“Is that what that case said?” she asked somewhat confused.
“Sure. Not surprisingly, it rides on the coattails of that recent study that showed that the risk of stroke was about the same whether the patient visited a chiropractor or a medical doctor. They think is has something to do with the fact that people who are soon to have stroke might visit either type of doctor for headache and neck pain first. At that point, it doesn’t matter if they get cervical manipulation, an Advil or a cheese omelet – they’re going to have a stroke.”
“Huh. Well, my husband said there wouldn’t be an article about it if there wasn’t something to it.”
“Yeah,” I responded, “I just read an article about Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and UFO’s.”
“People actually fall for that crap!” she exclaimed, “Do you believe that!?!”
“Yes. As a matter of fact I do.”
“My husband just wants me to minimize whatever risks I can,” she said.
“Okay, great. You didn’t drive to my office, did you? Since driving here is way more risky than walking. Oh, and I hope you didn’t eat any animal products today since your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes is dramatically increased. Oh, and you told me you took an ibuprofen last night. You do know that increases your risk of gastric ulcer and some cardiovascular problems. And you do know that living in an urban area, your odds of injury and illness are higher than in a rural area so did your husband put the house up for sale yet?”
“Uh…can you do something for this headache I have?”
“When did it start?”
“About a minute ago.”
Dr. Brett Kinsler blogs as RochesterChiro and is a chiropractor in Rochester, NY.