Blood vessels BURST in the eye of a woman after a ‘high-velocity’ chiropractic neck adjustment

A woman was left with ‘tadpole’-shaped spots in her vision after an appointment with a chiropractor burst blood vessels in her eyes.

In the first recorded case of its kind, medics said the force of the unnamed woman’s ‘high-velocity’ neck adjustment was to blame. 

She had been given cervical spinal adjustment – in which the head is twisted quickly to the side – but noticed a spot in her vision while she was driving home.

The unnamed 59-year-old, from Michigan, was found to have patches of blood in her eyeball, caused by burst blood vessels.

A scan of the woman’s retina revealed spots in her vision which she said were shaped like ‘tadpoles’ were caused by bleeding in part of her eye in front of the retina (pictured: the small dark blobs are where the blood vessels burst)

Experts at the Kellogg Eye Center at the University of Michigan warned the rare case  could serve as a warning to chiropractors and their patients.

The woman’s bizarre case, which saw her recover on her own, was published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology Case Reports.

She had undergone ‘high velocity neck manipulation’ before she noticed something wrong with her eyes on her way home.

The next day she had two tadpole-shaped spots in her vision which wouldn’t go away, so she visited an optician who referred her to a specialist doctor.

Tests revealed she had preretinal haemorrhages – bleeding from burst blood vessels in front of the retina, the part of the eye which controls vision.


Chiropractors really do relieve back pain, research suggested in May.

When given alongside pain medication and physical therapy, spinal manipulation benefits 62.6 per cent of lower-back pain sufferers after six weeks.

This is compared to just 46.6 percent who find their discomfort is eased by medication alone, the research added.  

Study author Dr Daniel Cherkin, from the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Seattle, said: ‘In contrast to most clinicians, chiropractors are specialists in back problems and enjoy seeing patients with lower back pain.’

Lower-back pain affects around 31 million people in the US and around 2.5m Brits say they have back pain every day.  

Writing in the journal, experts said because the retina is so sensitive to light even the smallest changes to the eye can disrupt what somebody sees.

The authors said it is the first ever case of chiropractic causing bleeding in the eyes, and added the woman’s symptoms healed in a fortnight.

She was taking medication for restless leg syndrome had a history of headaches, but had no other medical problems or recent injuries.

This led medics, headed up by Dr Yannis Paulus, to be confident in the suspicion that the chiropractic had caused her eye injury. 

Dr Paulus, an eye expert at the University of Michigan, said the patient had not been told to avoid chiropractic in future.

But he added: ‘Her chiropractor may need to modify techniques used during her visits.’

And his study concluded the energetic thrusts of chiropractic neck adjustments can result in stress on the eye and spotty vision.

Chiropractic involves putting pressure on the bones, muscles and joints to try and relieve pain and movement problems.

In the past it has been linked to a higher risk of stroke because sudden twisting of the neck can tear artery walls and cause clots which could travel to the brain.