We report a 44-year-old man suffering complete paraplegia due to paraspinal and epidural abscess, following chiropractic therapy for severe back pain and whose diagnosis was delayed. He received an immediate laminectomy from T3 through T6 to decompress the full extent of the abscess and appropriate antibiotic therapy for 4 weeks postoperatively for the identified microorganism (Staphylococcus aureus). After 3 months of rehabilitation, he had recovered bladder function with moderate left lower extremity paresis. We emphasise the importance of urgent spinal gadolinium-enhanced MRI in those patients with localised back pain and raised inflammatory markers (including erythrocyte sedimentation rate). Furthermore, it is necessary to be aware of the risk of acute paraplegia after forceful massage to the back.