When you go to the chiropractor, you probably do not think that anything you have done could result in death. However, neck manipulations are a concern because they can lead to narrowed arteries, tears in blood pathways and even blood clots, which may cause a stroke. As Science-Based Medicine notes, neck manipulations should only be used when all other methods of treatment have failed and only when this type of manipulation has been shown to be beneficial for your condition.
There is always a chance that any work your chiropractor does during adjustments could lead to an injury. However, most are not life threatening. The neck, though, due to its location and physical design is a delicate area where harm can easily be done even by the best trained chiropractor. While it is rare for someone to suffer a stroke and die due to a neck manipulation, experts agree that it is hardly ever necassary to take that risk regardless of how small it may be.
If you have a history of strokes, are on a blood thinner, have a high risk for stroke or are elderly, you should avoid neck manipulation completely. If you do not fall into those groups, you should try other treatments first, such as medications, massage, immobilization, exercise and traction. Only once all other treatments have failed should you try manipulation.
As mentioned, a death from such a manipulation does not occur too often. In fact, it occurs at the same rate as the natural stroke rate in general. However, there is really no need to take the risk because neck manipulation has been shown to not even be effective in most situations. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.