Patient Suffers Permanent Foot Drop After Chiropractic Manipulation

    Chiropractic Expert WitnessThis case involves a patient who suffered permanent injuries after undergoing a chiropractic spinal manipulation in order to treat back pain. The Plaintiff first presented to the defendant chiropractor with complaints of a persistent, aching pain in his lower back. During the visit, the Defendant performed a manipulation of the Plaintiff’s lower back, at which point no pain or discomfort was noted by the Plaintiff. However, several days after the Plaintiff’s session, he awoke with severe, shooting pain in his lower back, with pain radiating into his lower leg. In response to these new symptoms, the Defendant recommended additional chiropractic treatment. During the course of the manipulations, the Plaintiff felt a sudden pain in his back and upper leg, as well as total numbness in his foot. Since the incident, the Plaintiff’s condition has not improved, and he now suffers from an inability to walk due to persistent foot drop.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Do you have extensive experience providing chiropractic treatment to patients complaining of pain radiating down their legs?
    • 2. Are you familiar with the proper chiropractic manipulations that should be done on such a client and which ones should be avoided?
    • 3. What steps should be taken when a patient suffered excruciating pain and lack of sensation during procedures?

    Expert Witness Response E-000840

    I do have 12 years experience providing chiropractic treatment to patients with radiating pain into the lower and upper limbs. I am very familiar with the risks associated with chiropractic manipulations of the lumbar spine in such patients and the types of therapeutic interventions that should be avoided. I am also familiar with the types of therapies that should be used under these circumstances. When a patient experiences excruciating pain and lack of sensation during or after any therapeutic intervention, as in this case, a follow-up physical examination including a neurological examination of the back and lower limbs should be performed in an effort to determine the underlying cause for the pain and any new functional deficits that may have occurred. The sudden onset of excruciating, radiating pain indicates a possible acute nerve entrapment or nerve injury and warrants a detailed imaging study such as an MRI or CT scan to help determine the nature of this injury. These studies should be performed prior to any further chiropractic manipulations.

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