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.”