Was the death of Katie May the result of Chiropractic? Numerous people have brought this to my attention and I felt it necessary to shed some evidence based light on the subject.
According to the various media reports1, Katie May, a well-known model dubbed “The Queen of Snapchat,” suffered a trauma to her neck for which she sought care from a chiropractor. According to news sources, her father has made remarks that suggest that chiropractic care played a role in her untimely death.
I am very sensitive to the family and their loss. I have lost a close family member to an accident as well. When someone dies unexpectedly it is tempting to blame someone, or something, but it is important to research what the evidence says regarding the medical condition that caused their death before pointing fingers.
- Arterial dissection of the cervical (neck) arteries is a very rare condition occurring in 2-32persons per 100,000 population per year. As this condition 3 often produces neck pain and headaches, many times individuals will consult with their health care providers for advice or treatment in response to the discomfort.
- Whether a person consults a medical doctor or doctor of chiropractic, stroke can follow at an equal rate 4regardless of the type of provider. Epidemiologic studies over many years with millions of patients do not reveal any greater association of stroke for persons under chiropractic care compared with persons under medical care.
- In February 2016, a team of neurosurgeons at the University of Pennsylvania Hershey Medical Center published research 5concluding, “There is no convincing evidence to support a causal link between chiropractic manipulation and cervical artery dissection (CAD).”
- Chiropractic manipulation has shown to be safe, effective treatment for neck, mid back and lower back pain. A comprehensive review of scientific evidence noted that there is as much evidence6supporting chiropractic care as for other treatments such as prescription and non-prescription drugs and surgery.
The possibility that a chiropractic adjustment caused Katie May’s death is very small. According to the evidence, it is just as likely that she could have had the same fatal health crisis if she had not sought chiropractic care, or if she had been under the care of a medical doctor. For example, patients who die while under the care of a medical doctor for stroke in the same scenario wouldn’t make headlines. It has happened often enough for it to not be breaking news.