Metro woman believes her stroke was related to chiropractic manipulation of neck

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OLATHE, Kan. -- Just looking at Genny Hale, you wouldn't know she had a stroke in January. But there are effects you can't see.

"I can't handle several different people talking at once. I can't handle multi-tasking," said Hale.

The day before the stroke, Hale had her monthly chiropractic adjustment.

"When he manipulated my neck to the left side, it didn't crack like it usually did," said Hale.

The next day, she went to the emergency room after suffering sudden arm numbness and dizziness.

"That's one of the first questions they asked -- if I had ever seen a chiropractor," said Hale.

Dr. Karin Olds, a neurologist at Saint Luke's Neuroscience Institute, says there's a reason for that question.

"Yes, chiropractic manipulation of the neck can cause a stroke," said Dr. Olds.

Dr. Olds didn't treat Hale, but says she has treated others who've had strokes following neck adjustments.

"When the neck can be torqued in a manipulation or any other type of injury, it can cause a tear in the inner lining which is what we call a dissection," said Dr. Olds.

It's a vertebral artery dissection. A clot forms, blocking blood flow to the brain. Dr. Olds says it's rare, but can happen immediately or up to a few days later. A search of medical literature finds reports of dissection following chiropractic manipulation.

But in a statement to FOX 4, Dr. Keith Overland, Immediate Past President of the American Chiropractic Association, said, "The largest research study to date on this issue -- which used nearly a decade's worth of data -- shows there is no cause-and-effect relation between neck manipulation and stroke."

Dr. Overland says vertebral artery dissection is associated with a number of everyday activities, and he adds that those already experiencing stroke symptoms often visit a chiropractor for treatment.

Hale says she'd had a mild headache before she went for her regularly scheduled appointment.

"It's possible what happened on that Tuesday is maybe the clot broke loose off of the dissection that had been forming over months and months of having the manipulations," said Hale.

Dr. Olds tells people to talk to their chiropractors about risks and benefits of neck manipulation. Hale says beware.

"I do think it should be given a second thought if you're about to have one done," said Hale.

She adds that if you have symptoms such as numbness or dizziness, get medical help quickly.

Last year, we told you about another metro woman who believed her stroke was related to deep tissue massage of her neck. Dr. Olds says it can also occur after whiplash from a car crash or even from a roller coaster ride.

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