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

by Christy

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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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

Do you have a problem that is not getting better?

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Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.

You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70 percent of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there is a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong. Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what a DC does.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my eBooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful from the life and work of a chiropractor, you will love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the amount without telling me.