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30-year-old’s death linked to routine chiropractor visit

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Oklahoman Jeremy Youngblood, 30, died of a stroke after a routine visit to the chiropractor. (Credit: KFOR)

ADA, Okla. – 30-year-old Jeremy Youngblood was young, vibrant and attacking life head-on when he died.

According to a report by FOX31 Denver sister station KFOR, Jeremy died of a stroke that coroners say was brought on by a routine visit to the chiropractor’s office. Jeremy’s autopsy indicates he died of acute cerebellar infarction due to manipulation of the neck.

Youngblood’s death has some doctors up in arms and chiropractors rushing to defend their profession.

Dr. Bill Kinsinger, President of the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision, is an outspoken critic of chiropractic therapy.  He believes neck manipulation by chiropractors is dangerous and even deadly.

“The majority of the strokes happen in the vertebral arteries in the back,” Kinsinger told KFOR. “The stress on that artery at that segment where it makes that turn against the bone is most susceptible to stroke.”

When a chiropractor adjusts your neck, Kinsinger said, it can cause a tear in the artery that your body tries to heal with a clot. The clot can then break off and travel until the vessels become too small, which can eventually lead to a stroke.

“It’s not that these strokes are happening everyday; they’re not,” Kinsinger said. “But they are happening. And they’re usually happening to young, otherwise healthy people who should have never been injured for benefit of nothing.”

Comparing chiropractors to “snake oil salesmen,” Kinsinger insists the risks outweigh the benefits when one visits a chiropractor.

“We can talk all day about the lack of evidence in regard to the benefit of neck manipulations for neck pain,” Kinsinger said. “But beyond that, they (chiropractors) use neck manipulation for things that have nothing to do with the neck — low back pain, knee pain and all sorts of organic illnesses like ear infections in babies, colicky babies and PMS in women.”

However, Chris Waddell, President of the Oklahoma Board of Chiropractic Examiners, said there is evidence that proves the services offered by chiropractors are completely safe.

In particular, Waddell referred to the Cassidy Study, which was undertaken in Canada in 2008.

“We found no evidence of excess risk of VBA stroke associated with chiropractic care compared to primary care,” the report states. “For those 45 years of age and older there was no association.”

However, Kinsinger points to the same report, focusing on this line: “For those under 45 years of age and older.” Later in the report, Kinsinger said the study clearly states people under the age of 45 do seem to be at greater risk for health complications.

Still, many chiropractic patients that fall into that younger age bracket remain fervent believers in the practice. And in a statement released following Jeremy’s death, the Oklahoma Board of Chiropractic Examiners wrote, “The safety of chiropractic care is evidenced by the lowest medical malpractice insurance rates of any licensed medical profession.”

What’s more, Waddell told KFOR, the proof about the cost-benefit analysis of trips to the chiropractor is also evidenced by the fact that patients keep showing up.

“I think if the benefits weren’t there, people wouldn’t utilize our services,” Waddell said. “They know what works and what doesn’t.”

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  • dan

    Has anyone ever listened to the disclaimers at the end of a prescription commercial? Most, if not all include the possibility of death. Regular MDs are probably really glad the press doesn’t get a hold of every death that occurs because of prescriptions.

  • Derby

    Gee, the mainstream press attacking alternative healthcare with anecdotal nonsense while ignoring millions of deaths due to prescription drugs, hospital malpractice, etc. I just can’t imagine.

  • Sam

    Maybe medical insurance companies should cover more alternative treatments. I had a bulging disc due to an rugby injury, M.D’s were ready to inject cortisone into my neck to calm down the inflammation cost +/- $8,500.00. Chiropractor visit and sort of neck traction with adjustments $1,500. Guess huge pharma doesn’t make billions from that now do they.

  • Craig

    Patients returning certainly can mean the patient benefited. It can also be the result of skilled salesmanship.

    Overall, I suspect infrequently hurting a patient and low malpractice rates are most consistent with little benefit. Staggering benefit often requires staggering risk, like neurosurgery.

    Might we provide better care with more available physical therapy better covered by insurance and removing chisropractic from coverage.

    If it is truly beneficial, patients will pay out of pocket. PT has proven benefit, proven low risk, and no dubious procedures.

    • Jake

      Sorry to burst your bubble but PT’s use “body work” and “spinal manipulation” as well. Staggering benefit requires Staggering risk? <<<<< the most ridiculous thing i've heard in a long, long time.

    • Paige Mott

      Physical therapy is wonderful and I recommend it for my patients all the time. Especially patients who need an exercise babysitter…..However, I have countless patients who were dismissed from PT as MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) no better whatsoever….who had neuro deficits not recovered from Physical Therapy alone. You make good points that insurance covers PT, and when their benefits expire, are exhausted, they are released from care, still suffering. Why is it that Physical Therapists fight to manipulate? Because it works….it is safe in trained/skilled hands. This is tragic for this one boy. How many of these stories do we hear? Let us compare the number of people harmed from a Chiropractic adjustment, to say, routine vaccinations? Why are you not harping on that? And FYI, Chiropractic is beneficial, patients know it, and are more than HAPPY TO PAY OUT OF POCKET, A REASONABLE RATE. MOST PATIENTS I SEND TO PT COMMENT ON THE OVERBILLING AND EXPENSE TO THEIR INSURANCE COMPANY!

    • Jay

      Low malpractice rates mean low potential for negative effect. Same for drivers that qualify for a lower premium indicates they are less likely to be involved in a collision. It is not based on benefit.

  • maestro1899

    Most chiropractors don’t do anything useful. I use to see a religous chiro in Greenwood Village and no matter what problem I complained of, he did the same 3 adjustments, one of which was a hard neck manipulation.

    I believe in massage therapy over these hard manipulations. If you are having a muscular issue, hard manipulation won’t do anything.

    • Jake

      You use the term “Most” because the “One” chiro you went to? 2nd most ridiculous thing i’ve read in a long, long time.

  • ALG

    This exact same thing just happened to my daughter’s 25-year old best friend. Luckily she got to the ER on time to survive the experience, but her whole life has been altered! Very scary!

  • Paige Mott

    This is sad and tragic. Let us put this in perspective… often do we hear a story like this? VERY VERY RARE….. I see stories of babies/teens/adults dying, permanently disabled every single day from routine vaccines, FDA approved, CDC recommended, and shielded from any liability whatsoever….. and covered by insurance…….Chiropractic is safe, effective and saves lives, lowers health care costs, drug consumption etc…..

  • nina kavanaugh

    The number 3 cause of deaths in the USA is MEDICAL MALPRACTICE by MDs!!!!!!!!!! The Cassidy Study further showed that any stroke that might occur may already be in progress before the neck is manipulated, as the force of a Chiropractic adjustment is just not enough to cause the amount of sheering force necessary to cause the damage that would cause a clot to form and then break off. Further more they showed that in the extremely rare case that these were reported as happening after neck manipulation those manipulations in question were not even delivered by a Chiropractor!!! Chiropractic is an evidence based medical specialty. The education is more intense and involved than medical school. There is more time spent in the anatomy lab, more hours spent on diagnosis, and radiology to name a few. Chiropractors are excellent physicians. This was a freak accident, and to ascribe it to the manipulation in general would be like saying that a Neurosurgeon is responsible for a failed aneurysm. Is it possible it was caused by the manipulation, all of the scientific evidence says it isn’t, Chiropractic is safe.

    • Chelle does Not breastfeed in public

      Ok, ok, ok….. Normally I do not respond to dumb information posted… You got me this time though… The 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S….., Really? Not even in the top 10. Check your “facts.” Please.

  • RJ

    Funny fox funny!! This young man died in 2011 why are you writing this story now? The Dr from Oklahoma was practicing Medicine in Connecticut when this happened and has now moved to Oklahoma. When he was in Connecticut he was notorious for slander on the Chiropractic profession. I sure hope there is no slander here Fox News.

    • Donna Layne

      Been wondering the same thing! Could be a slow news day, while the whole state awaits Adams County’s ballot counting due to their county surveyor write-in only?

    • Anonymous

      Why because your a sheep that is the dumbest thing you could have said, your going to live your life ruled by fear that the media has put upon you. There is no fear in going to a chiropractor it has been proven multiple times. You should sell your car and never drive, stop flying on planes, stop breathing air or being around people to and stop believing in God too. Enjoy your lead life Sunny…..

  • Philip

    Fox 31 should be ashamed at such irresponsible reporting: what is lost in the political bashing is that Jeremy Youngblood died and the “competition” was allowed to make outrageous unsubstantiated claims by a liablous political hack.

  • shootmyownfood

    None of my joints “pop,” even my knuckles. I can’t imagine anything that sounds more painful than letting someone manipulate your body until air gets in the spaces in your joints and makes a cracking sound. How can that even remotely be considered therapeutic or beneficial?

  • Gretchen Alexander

    I had a massage therapist twist my neck like a chiro and injure it and the massage board won’t do anything!!!! I got a settlement from his insurance company and he’s been sued twice before. The man isn’t even a chiropractor!!! So if this happens with real chicks what the hell is wrong that they won’t stop him!!!!

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