Putting You at Ease: Is Chiropractic Care Really Safe?

It seems like everyone has an opinion about chiropractic care. Many swear by it as a noninvasive, drug-free treatment for countless issues like back and neck pain, headaches, vertigo, and even depression and anxiety. However, there are those who write the practice off as pointless quackery, or even dangerous. So what gives?


Chiropractic care has been practiced legally in the United States since 1913 with over 70,000 chiropractors working with patients today. The basic structure of chiropractic care is the manipulation or manual adjustment of the spine based on the belief that “chiropractic treatment can restore the structural integrity of the spine, reduce pressure on the sensitive neurological tissue, and consequently improve the health of the individual,” due to the other primary belief that “biomechanical and structural derangement of the spine can affect the nervous system,” thus resulting in health issues. Another primary goal and practice of any chiropractor is the overall improvement of the patient’s health through positive lifestyle changes. Instead of prescribing patients drugs, chiropractors will often recommend lifestyle adjustments such as healthier eating, regular exercise, ways to improve posture, and even meditation and breathing techniques. That being said: why the witch hunt?


In February 2015, Playboy model Katie May died from a stroke at the age of 34 after an artery in her neck ruptured after a chiropractic adjustment. Countless media outlets reported the story with Forbes featuring releasing the story as “Model Katie May’s Death Raises More Questions About Chiropractors,” and Huffington Post reporting “Playboy Model Katie May’s Death Caused By Chiropractor, Autopsy Finds.” This type of media frenzy suggested that chiropractics is an irresponsible form of care provided by individuals without any legitimate training. However, while the death of Katie May was tragic and jarring, it was in no way an even remotely common occurrence in the field of chiropractic care.


To put it in perspective:

  • The British Medical Journal published a study that medical error within hospitals kills over 251,000 Americans each year.
  • It also reported the same amount of deaths due to medical error outside of hospitals in nursing homes and extended care facilities.
  • The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study reflecting that taking the correct drug, for the correct diagnosis, in the correct dosage within a hospital results in over 106,000 American deaths each year.
  • It is estimated that over 35 million Americans seek chiropractic treatment every year.
  • In a typical year, there are no deaths associated with chiropractic care.
  • Chiropractors are the highest rated healthcare practitioner for low-back pain treatments above physical therapists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and primary care providers.
  • Studies reflect that the risk of the incident associated with Katie May’s death occurring during a chiropractic visit is 1 in 3 million.


With the prescription drug epidemic rocking the United States today, chiropractic care can be an incredibly beneficial, life-giving, drug-free treatment for those suffering from chronic pain. Chiropractic care is not without risk; however, nothing in life is. The benefits and life improvements associated with regular chiropractic care far outweigh the minute chance of injury or death. At Benningfield & Associates, we are dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal well-being through natural methods including spinal adjustment, muscle rehabilitation, and physical therapy. We are committed to helping our patients improve the quality of their lives by providing advanced care in a friendly atmosphere. Learn more on our website or give us a call 309.692.6800.