Bilateral diaphragmatic paralysis due to cervical chiropractic manipulation

Seby John, Jinny Tavee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Neck pain from cervical spinal disease is a common problem with significant disability, and chiropractic manipulation has emerged as one of the leading forms of alternative treatment for such spinal symptoms. However, more experience with these forms of treatment has revealed associated complications that are far from benign. Complications range from mild symptoms, such as local neck tenderness or stiffness, to more severe injuries involving the spinal cord, peripheral nerve roots, and arteries within the neck. Phrenic nerve injury causing diaphragmatic palsy is a rare complication of cervical chiropractic manipulation. We report a case of bilateral diaphragmatic paralysis in a healthy gentleman who underwent cervical manipulation. Physicians must be aware of this complication and should be cautious when recommending spinal manipulation for the treatment of neck pain, especially in the presence of preexisting degenerative disease of the cervical spine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-67
Number of pages3
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Cervical chiropractic manipulation
  • Diaphragmatic paralysis
  • Electromyography
  • Orthopnea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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