The neck is painful and severe. Could it be a sign of something more grave? - Harvard Health

In rare instances, a ruptured neck artery can result in stroke. Find out about possible reasons and signs.

In the summer of 2013, news reports concerning a young woman who suffered a stroke following visiting chiropractor chiropractor attracted renewed attention to a rare and potentially fatal condition. It’s known as cervical dissection of the artery, this is caused by a tear in the wall of one of the major arterial pathways that transport cerebral blood (see the illustration). The rapid motions of the neck, which are jolting as well as “adjustments” (also called the cervical manipulation therapy) carried out by chiropractors as well as other health professionals can trigger or worsen tears.

“In my practice I’ve seen several patients who suffered a stroke while on the table of a chiropractor or shortly following the appointment,” says Dr. Natalia Rost, a Harvard Medical School professor and the chief of Stroke Services at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. But a myriad of other situations and events which cause abrupt and jerky neck movements could also result in tears in the delicate arteries of between the sides as well as the back in the neck. claims.

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