Loss of vision, bloated with stomach, and breastbone pains after neck manipulation

by Christy
(Missouri)

HELP! I had my first neck manipulation this last Monday. I was awfully dizzy, but short lived. Very, very sore. Expected. I didn't know if I wanted to love him or hate him.

Nervous to go back a second time, I went. I got up from the adjustment table and walked to the electrode therapy table. Was face down for about 20 minutes hooked up. When I raised my head I COULD NOT SEE! For about 20 minutes I could not make out a thing. About a hour later, vision restored.

Next day, yesterday, started having stomach problems. Remind you, I have regular bowel movements. Today? I look like I am 9 months pregnant! So bloated..sharp stabbing pains in my stomach. Pain in my sternum area. Having trouble breathing. Mainly when trying to talk or walk. I am just miserable! I will NEVER go to another chiropractor. Is this typical reaction to a neck manipulation? Should I be concerned?

Hello Christy,
Yes, you should be concerned. All medical treatment, even taking an aspirin has potential dangers, and it includes chiropractic manipulation; ours are very low, hence our low insurance premiums, but yes, stuff can happen.

Dizziness after a manipulation is one of the red flags; especially awfully dizzy; it's called vertigo. Did you vomit or feel nauseous?

Plus it's very rare that a chiropractic manipulation, carefully and skillfully done, is very, very sore. Yes, some discomfort, and occasionally some pain does happen.

Do you recall whether before the second manipulation he asked you to turn your head, look up and watched to see if your eyes darted about, or you became dizzy?

Complete loss of vision for twenty minutes after the second manipulation, certainly would mean in my book that cervical manipulation is completely contraindicated. My recommendation is NEVER to have another.

Having said that, we now use more gentle techniques on sensitive spines, like we would use on babies and the elderly for example, called an activator; that might be okay but if you ever consult a chiropractor again, I would spell out exactly what happened.

One last factor. Breastbone pain wouldn't come from a manipulation of your neck, but it could be after a heavy manipulation in the midback. Did he thump hard on you between the shoulderblades? If it strained the costo-sternal joint then you would have breathing pain. This is something that frankly happens periodically in every chiropractor's practice, but usually it settles after a week or two. If it doesn't please contact me again, except that I'm going to be offline for a month from 22 November.

No wonder you are miserable; that's entirely normal after your experience.

All in all, I would think that chiropractic is not for you, Christy. Unless you find someone who will take the time to listen carefully to your story, examine you thoroughly, and then with your express permission decide what to do.

May I ask, what did you consult him for in the first place? Even though you may never go back, may I recommend you write a letter of your experience at his clinic; it's the best way that doctors to learn.

I hope this contributes in some small way, and thank you for contacting Chiropractic Help.

Dr B


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