ZocdocAnswersIs chiropractic treatment safe for a 65 year old with an abdominal aneurysm?

Question

Is chiropractic treatment safe for a 65 year old with an abdominal aneurysm?

My father is turning 66 years old. He has an abdominal aneurysm of 3.9cm when last checked 6 months ago. He is also a smoker and has severe lower back pain. He gets chiropractic treatment for his back regularly. Is this dangerous? What risks does it carry? And are all forms of chiropractic treatment for patients with aneurysms dangerous? Thanks!

Answer

I would recommend that your father schedule an appointment with a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor who can assess his back and better discuss treatment options. There are no studies on the effect of chiropractic manipulations of the spine and the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture. With that said, if this were my family member I probably would advise them not to have the chiropractic treatments done unless this was the only thing that ever worked for the back pain. For the most part, low back pain can be treated with intensive physical therapy. This tends to work better in the long run than chiropractic treatments alone anyway. Physical therapy would not carry the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture in the same way that chiropractic treatment might. I should also say here that a 4 cm abdominal aortic aneurysm is not yet large enough to consider an operation to correct. We generally think of 5 to 6 cm is the size necessary for the risks of an operation to outweigh the risks of rupture of the aortic aneurysm. Your fathers aortic aneurysm can be followed with routine ultrasounds or CT scans to make sure that its size is not increased. In addition, I would say that your father should schedule an appointment with a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor can further assess his back and determine what treatments might be necessary.

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