Thanks for writing. This is a hot-button issue that I'll answer in a little more depth than you may have anticipated.
Yes - the tearing of a vertebral artery that you mention has happened before.
However, it's important for you to note that it doesn't occur simply "because" of the chiropractic manipulation alone. This condition occurs in individuals who smoke, are overweight, or have some inherent condition that allows for the wall or lining of the vessels to be weak or thinning.
Because of these pre-existing factors, the person has been "set up" to have a stroke already... I've read statistics that suggest there is a greater chance of having that stroke in the shampoo chair at your local hair salon, or looking up at the sky to watch fireworks, than there is of having a stroke at the chiropractor’s office.
The fact that the vessel has already weakened over time is the main issue... unfortunately, it has occurred following a handful of rotational chiropractic manipulations.
Current statistics show the chances of it happening are approximately 1 in 5,000,000. To give you some a frame of reference, you also have a 1 in 2,650,000 chance of being struck my lightning. So the chances of you experiencing an arterial tear following a chiropractic visit is incredibly slim.
Now, as for you having a stroke... if this were to actually happen to you, you'd probably know it happened within a very short time following the visit. Some people believe that a chiropractic manipulation delivered weeks prior can be the cause of a stroke later on. Honestly, I really don't buy that...
If you really believe something's wrong, then call the chiropractor or head to the ER for peace of mind.
As for your symptoms, the first time someone receives a chiropractic manipulation, muscles and ligaments are activated in ways that haven't occurred in some time... I liken it to going to the gym for the first time and feeling sore the next day. So muscle soreness or tenderness is not uncommon.
Let me add this... I personally do not receive any rotational manipulations. Meaning, the chiropractic adjustments that I receive for my own health do not involve twisting or popping the neck. I also do not provide this type of manipulation in my office. I'm a big proponent for a special type of adjusting procedure known as Upper Cervical Care. There are approximately 500 of the 60,000 licensed chiropractors in the country using some form of this procedure.
You can learn more about it at www.UpCspine.com -- I recommend that anyone who is uncomfortable with neck manipulation see one of these specialists... The procedure is incredibly gentle, and occurs in the natural head position, without turning or twisting. Despite the name, it actually helps the entire body, not just the neck.
Let me wrap this up by saying this... Chiropractic care has helped millions of people, and has been in full swing since 1895. Any healing art that can last that long, and earn international accreditation, is worth its salt. Every profession has its good eggs and bad eggs, and frankly, you may have just found a bad egg. Talk to your doctor about the symptoms you experienced after the treatment... if you don't like his answers, or if he does not respond to your concerns the way you feel he should, then simply find another chiropractor who will... I assure you, not all treatments will feel that way.
I hope this information benefits you.