Are cervical adjustments safe? / Model Katie May's Story


My condolences to Katie May’s family. No matter the situation, it is never fun to hear when a life is taken away. After reading articles and now after Dr. Oz’s show, my patients had many questions about Katie May’s story and wanted to know my opinions on the whole event. My thoughts:

  • History taking, physical, and neurological examinations are very important on the first visit. My goal is to get to know the person and get the full understanding on the current chief complaint and past complaints. From there, I decide if certain treatments are safe and have the confidence in helping the patient in front of me. All practitioners need to make sure that the diagnosis is accurate and the treatment is based on the diagnosis and not the other way around. Don’t treat blindly!
  • Cervical adjustment can cause a stroke once in 100,000 to 2 million manipulations. I know that is a wide range but still it is very unlikely. (Ref#1)
  • Prove it again! My Malpractice Premium this year is exactly $1,310.81, which is less than $110/month. If insurance companies are making a bunch of money with those rates, then it is safe to say that chiropractic treatments are safe as well. Premiums are directly proportional to the amount of risk of a lawsuit or amount of work the organization may have to engage into.
  •  If there were a direct relationship between a neck adjustment and causing a stroke, adjustments/manipulations would NOT be a treatment option worldwide. Chiropractic would not be a profession and some osteopathic treatments would be prohibited as well. In fact, other health professionals are learning and wanting to perform manipulations and trying to pass laws to widen their state’s scope of practice.
  •  Force = Mass x Acceleration- On average, it takes about 22.5 pounds of force for a successful adjustment (Ref#2). Just another random thought, an average defensive back (who can run a 40 yard dash in 4.56secs and weighs about 200lbs) in football can produce 1600 pounds of force (Ref#3). Subtracting force disbursement from all the gear, muscle engagement by the other player, and knowing a hit is coming or even not coming; it is still less then the force needed for chiropractic treatments.

These were my responses to my patients. My thoughts are based on anatomy and physiology and making sure everything makes sense. If you cannot explain what is going on, I believe any action should not be done. There are so many other health related deaths we can talk about in our nation but it is simply the media trying to get more exposure which also means making more money on their side. Be very reasonable and understanding with everything that you read. Hope my random thoughts put your thoughts into perspective and now see where I am coming from. Feel free to email me anytime with any other questions or concerns at


          Dr. Jason Kim