Certain forms of neck treatment may increase risk of stroke

Lipitor users with sore necks may want to hold back on any treatments involving manipulative therapy.

Lipitor users with sore necks may want to hold back on any treatments involving manipulative therapy. While seeing a practitioner may help your vertebrae feel brand new, recent studies indicate that neck manipulation could vastly increase the risk of experiencing a stroke.

In a new examination published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, forms of neck treatments involving manipulation of the vertebrae may provoke tears of artery walls in the neck that could produce blood clot formations, potentially leading to stroke. Most people often see chiropractic or manipulative therapists after experiencing some form of trauma within the neck, such as whiplash, sports injuries or even severe coughing or vomiting.

In some cases, extensive pressure put upon the neck may cause cervical artery dissection, which is when a layer of artery wall becomes torn. Your neck is where major arteries that carry blood to your brain are located, and when the lining of these arteries is damaged, blood clots become easier to form, which can cause disruption of blood flow to the brain. This is one of the most common causes of stroke for people under the age of 50.

The researchers focused on the relationship between cervical artery dissection and manipulative therapies for the neck in a series of case control studies. One of the main discoveries associated with the possible correlation was that many people who already have a cervical artery dissection may seek treatment to relieve neck pain, making it difficult to officially determine which of the conditions is more likely to cause the other one.

Dr. José Biller, a professor at Loyola University in Chicago and lead statement author in the study, acknowledged that while the connection between both cervical artery dissection and neck manipulation therapy needs more research to officially establish a link, those who have experienced recent neck trauma should immediately seek help from a physician to determine their risk of stroke. 

"Although a cause-and-effect relationship between these therapies and CD has not been established, CD can result in serious neurological injury," Biller said in a statement. "Tell the physician if you have recently had a neck trauma or neck manipulation. Some symptoms, such as dizziness or vertigo, are very common and can be due to minor conditions rather than stroke, but giving the information about recent neck manipulation can raise a red flag that you may have a CD rather than a less serious problem, particularly in the presence of neck pain."

When to seek immediate help
According to The Internet Stroke Center, stroke is currently the third leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming around 140,000 victims every year. If you recall any previous histories of neck trauma or are currently experiencing pains within your vertebrae, it's crucial that you receive an emergency medical evaluation as soon as possible. Other potential risk factors for stroke include:

  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Lack of balance or unsteadiness when walking
  • Frequent nausea or vomiting episodes
  • Slurred speech
  • Jerky eye movements

Another way to remember the warning signs of stroke is by memorizing the acronym FAST. F is for face, and if you believe someone might be showing signs of a stroke, ask them to smile. If one side of their face droops, they're most likely experiencing the initial stages of an attack. A is for arms, which implies to check whether or not the person can lift both arms up without struggle. S is for speech, so make sure to detect if the individual is having difficulty speaking. T is for time, so the sooner you call for help, the better chance that person has for treatment. 

While a prescription to Lipitor is a great way to help relieve possible symptoms of stroke, it's still important to remember to undergo frequent checkups with your doctor or physician. If you need to refill your prescription, try using a Canadian online pharmacy the next time you need to buy Lipitor.