Chiropractor Rant; or Time to Split
Got a call this afternoon from a lovely little old lady who had just been to the chiropractor. He was doing a manipulation on her hands (presumably for arthritis in her fingers) and had split the skin on the back of her hand. He was worried because it was "pretty close to a vein," and had asked her to get it checked out.
She came over to let me see the wound. Sure enough, there was a 3.5 cm (that's 1 and 3/8 inches to y'all you haven't gotten metric into your head) laceration of the skin on the back of her left hand. It went all the way through the skin, gaping wide open, leaving the subcutaneous tissues clearly visible. The thing is, the skin on the back of the hand is pretty thin, especially in little old ladies. There isn't any subcutaneous fat to speak of. The wound did come close to a superficial blood vessel at one end, but the vein was intact. By the time I saw her, the bleeding had stopped. There was some old dried blood under the skin, but the wound was clean. She said it didn't hurt at all.
I used steri-strips to approximate the skin edges, and they came together beautifully. (The last thing I'd want to do would be try to numb it up and stitch it.) I put a large band-aid over it to keep it clean and asked her to come back in a week so I could be sure it was healing.
I asked her why she went to a chiropractor. She said he made her back feel soooo good, and I believe her; she's got a significant rounding forward of the upper back, common in little old ladies. I have no problem with a chiropractor acting like a glorified massage therapist, at least for the axial musculature (ie, neck and back.) But what on earth would possess him to think he could do anything for arthritis by "manipulating" her hands!
So for those who believe chiropractors are mostly harmless back-crackers, beware of dangers that go beyond anti-vaccination rhetoric and the occasional stroke from cervical manipulation in patients with vascular disease in the neck. This guy actually split the patient's skin with his hands.
If you happen to be reading this in a chiropractor's office, my advice to you is: SPLIT, before he does it to you.