Chiropractic Care is Safer than Surgery

Written by: James Demetrious, DC, DABCO

Diplomate, American Board of Chiropractic Orthopedists
Diplomate, International Academy of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine

In Comparison

When compared to medical care, chiropractic is a safer healthcare option for many neuromusculoskeletal conditions. While medical interventions are sometimes necessary, the efficacy, decreased morbidity/mortality rates, and decreased financial costs associated with chiropractic are substantiated in highly powered research.

Those in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones

Incredible research supports the primary role of chiropractic care in our healthcare system. And yet, authors and journals continue to level poorly supported diatribes to discredit the chiropractic profession. Such attacks on the chiropractic profession serve as fodder for healthcare administrators, insurance, and plaintiff attorneys to decrease chiropractic utilization.

Bad Science

In the paper entitled, “Neurologic Complications in Managing Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy Pathogenesis, Prevention, and Management,” the author provides the incidence of complications associated with the care of patients for cervical degenerative disease. [1]

For clarity, the incidence of non-surgical and surgical treatments offer insight into safety:

  • Chiropractic Care:
    • 0.01% – Incidence of stroke or myelopathy.
  • Surgical Treatment:
    • Up to 30% incidence of C5 palsy.
    • Up to 2.7% incidence of recurrent laryngeal nerve Injury.
    • Up to 1.3% incidence of superior laryngeal nerve injury.
    • Up to 4.1% incidence of vertebral artery injury.
    • Up to 0.1% incidence of Horner syndrome.
    • Up to 0.3% incidence of iatrogenic spinal cord injury.

One doesn’t need an advanced degree in mathematics or statistics to recognize that chiropractic care is substantially safer than surgical procedures. And yet, the author cites chiropractic as an absolute contraindication of care. Such statements do not reflect the current data.

Honesty and Integrity

Authors, editors, and journals must objectively report data and conclusions without bias. The research is extraordinarily clear. Chiropractic care is safer and in many cases a better alternative to more complicated, riskier, and more costly procedures.

Patients benefit from chiropractic care for the treatment of degenerative conditions that progress over decades. Appropriate chiropractic care and management of this population is well within the capability of the chiropractic physician.

The identification of degenerative cervical myelopathy patients requires chiropractic and medical coordinated assessment and nuanced inter-disciplinary care.


1.) Sugawara T. Neurosurg Clin N Am 29 (2018) 129-137.


The views and opinions expressed in this presentation are solely those of the author. The information is not offered as a standard of care as research and care evolve. We offer this only to educate and inform. Patients should seek the care of their doctors regarding their conditions.

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