Chiropractors Start Reversing Course

Simon Singh‘s case again the British Chiropractic Association is already having ripple effects in the pseudoscientific world:

McTimoney Chiropractic Association is warning its members that they could be under special scrutiny:

  • If you have a website, take it down NOW.
  • REMOVE all the blue MCA patient information leaflets, or any patient information leaflets of your own that state you treat whiplash, colic or other childhood problems in your clinic or at any other site where they might be displayed with your contact details on them. DO NOT USE them until further notice. The MCA are working on an interim replacement leaflet which will be sent to you shortly.
  • If you use business cards or other stationery using the ‘doctor’ title and it does not clearly state that you are a doctor of chiropractic or that you are not a registered medical practitioner, STOP USING THEM immediately.
  • Be wary of ‘mystery shopper’ phone calls and ‘drop ins’ to your practice, especially if they start asking about your care of children, or whiplash, or your evidence base for practice.

What is the MCA worried about? Perhaps that chiropractic treatments for problems aren’t based in sound science.

And while the member groups’ websites may have changed, the archived versions are somewhere on the Intertubes…

The chiropractors are just digging their own graves here.

(via The Guardian — Thanks to hoverfrog for the link!)

  • Mark

    Keeping in mind that the information that they’re being told to remove, by their own organization, is the point of the lawsuit, one in which they are the plaintiff.

    It it was the chiropractors that were being sued for making these claims, then it would make sense to remove these claims, for the duration of the lawsuit, even if they stood by them. The current situation just makes it look like they know that these claims are false.

    And yet, there will be those who continue to believe in this pseudoscientific nonsense.

  • http://rubyleigh.blogspot.com Ruby Leigh

    not sure if this relates – but despite their pseudoscientific methods, I had a lot of sucess with a recent back issue that my chiropracter was able to address. I had some knot or something in my back, and my husband would try to get rid of it for me, plus I went to a couple of massage appointments. Nothing helped for more than an hour. The chiropracter told me I had a pinched nerve, “cracked my back” and I haven’t had a similar pain since. I realize that this just one example, but I think it is a worthwhile study – though not to be equated to M.D.

    I think the problem with chriropracters is not the lack of knowledge… it is the usual business ethics that they commonly employ. I have heard of many people who have made several visits for problems that could have been resolved in one or two.

  • cathy

    I love how they are supposed to be wary of people asking for evidence. Scary, scary evidence askers.

  • Stephen P

    @Ruby: yes, it seems probable that certain back problems are indeed helped by chiropractic treatment. However I gather that there are other back problems which are made worse by it, and it is unclear whether your average chiropracter is actually capable of, or even cares about, telling the difference.

    And the claims which some/many/most chiropracters make about treating a horde of other ailments are, as Simon Singh said, bogus.

    I made a modest contribution to Singh’s cause this weekend. I bought another of his books – “Big Bang”. It’s an area I know quite a lot about, so much of it is not new for me, but even so there are lots of interesting biographical details about the people involved in the discoveries. Recommended.

  • http://idahoev.com IdahoEv

    Chiropractic is scary.

    And on a related note, the word “chiropractic” used as a noun really bothers the crap out of me. the ending -ic generally designates an adjective in English. For example bombastic, fantastic, etc.

    What other industry uses an adjective as a noun for what it practices? It makes them sound, collectively, like morons. Consider the parallel statements:

    “Doctor of Medical” instead of “Doctor of Medicine”
    “Institute of Legal” instead of “Institute of Law”
    “School of Cosmetological” instead of “School of Cosmetology”

    /rant off

  • ATL-Apostate

    There have been countless patients duped by their (DC’s) unscrupulous business and questionable ethical practices. There are a (very) few good chiropractors who have been tricked into paying a small fortune for “doctorates” from one of the small trade schools, aka chiropractic colleges. Their “continuing medical education” seminars are run like evangelical crusades – heavy on style and hero worship, light or nonexistent on the science. This small minority is resigned to practicing chiropractic as ethically as possible as a means of putting food on the table and paying off massive “education” debt. I have a friend in this situation.

    Most of the central claims of chiropractic have been thoroughly debunked in well-respected medical journals (i.e. The New England Joirnal of Medicine). You can get the same or better treatment from a licensed physical therapist or osteopathic physician – without the hard sell / “nutriceutical” quackery of chiropractic.

    The entire field of chiropractic should be very afraid…

  • http://anti-mattr.blogspot.com/ mathyoo

    The benefits that you experience from a chiropractor can also be achieved from any good physical therapist. The difference is that PTs are required to be licensed, but chiropractors are not.

    Read this article for a good takedown of chiros by a PT doc:

    http://physicaltherapydoc.wordpress.com/2007/12/18/chiropractic-versus-physical-therapy/

  • ATL-Apostate

    also, in 7 years of private practice, I have never ONCE referred a patient to a chiropractor – and I’ve seen plenty of patients with back/neck/joint pain.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    When I have back problems, I get my 7-year old child to walk on my back. It works and his rates are quite reasonable. :)

    I guess I should start calling him “Doc”.

  • http://smartbykrae.com K.

    @mathyoo – I anecdotally disagree. I have had several extended rounds of PT (with an excellent therapist) over the past five years for a back injury, and never received the level of relief I did as from a couple of months with a chiro last summer. Going against conventional wisdom and seeing a competent chiropractor was the turning point in my recovery and drastically increased my quality of life.

    Chiropractic care has a place in pain management. In asthma relief? Of that I’m doubtful.

  • Aj

    Ruby Leigh,

    The chiropracter told me I had a pinched nerve, “cracked my back” and I haven’t had a similar pain since. I realize that this just one example, but I think it is a worthwhile study – though not to be equated to M.D.

    The chiropractor had no justification for diagnosing a “pinched nerve”, he was refering to the pseudoscience of subluxations. It has as much justification and evidence supporting it as homeopathy, and that’s just water as a placebo.

    He probably meant manipulation when he said “cracking” (I don’t like that phrase), that is used by physical therapists, and other applied physiology professionals, because there is evidence that supports its use for lower back pain.

    K.

    I anecdotally disagree.

    Anecdotes are really poor quality of evidence. Things that have been shown multiple times to not work can work anecdotally when you don’t control for placebo.

    Chiropractic care has a place in pain management.

    “Chiropactic” is pseudoscience, it has no place in any kind of care. Some “witches” bled people, and that is a known treatment for some diseases, but “witchcraft” doesn’t have a place in medical treatment.

  • Maria

    @mathyoo – I anecdotally disagree. I have had several extended rounds of PT (with an excellent therapist) over the past five years for a back injury, and never received the level of relief I did as from a couple of months with a chiro last summer. Going against conventional wisdom and seeing a competent chiropractor was the turning point in my recovery and drastically increased my quality of life.

    Same here. PT did not help at all, whereas good chiropractors did. They did lots of tests on me first though, and stuck soley to my back.

    “Chiropactic” is pseudoscience, it has no place in any kind of care.

    Really? I guess and the above poster and I imagined our recovery. Or better yet, I must have made it all up right? Guess you don’t care if people are actually helped, and you discount them because it goes against what you want to be true.

    What these people were doing was fraud. But that doesn’t mean ALL chiropractors are con men. If your chiro starts making claims like this British association did, run. But if they actually run tests and want to help your back, give it a chance. As for it not having any “place”, that is for the patient to determine, as we have the right to choose who we go to. The best thing to do is be educated and make sure you go to competent health care people of ALL kinds, because there are plenty out there who will con you.

  • Maria

    pseudoscience of subluxations

    then I guess my back must be a fake back cause working on that helped me a lot

  • Dana

    that’s odd……..I’ve been to several physical therapists and heard them use the words ” vertebral subluxations”. If it’s so false, how come they use it, if they supposedly are the experts? If you bother to google the term you’ll see plenty of journals and articles that write about it. Guess they’re all wrong too.

    I also agree with the two above posters that not all chiropractors are crooks. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some that are (the ones that promise organ cures, nutrient cures, asthma, etc.) but there are enough that aren’t. You just have to be CAREFUL and like the above person said, e-d-u-c-a-t-ed (yes that actually means learning something on your part).I was helped by a chiro too, who actually worked with my physical therapist, and there was never any problem, they communicated and worked well together. Maybe some people posting on here should do some research before they condemn an entire field they obviously know little about. Same is true with MD’s too-there are plenty of MD’s who will con you too, just because someone has the letters MD after their name doesn’t automatically make them honest or right.

  • Aj

    Maria,

    I guess and the above poster and I imagined our recovery.

    What, you think that can’t happen? You seriously haven’t heard of the placebo effect?

    Or better yet, I must have made it all up right?

    I think you think you were helped. I don’t have to reject that to be rationally skeptical of chiropractic “treatment”. Know this, regardless of how nonsensical, superstitious, lacking in evidence, abundant in scientific refution, a CAM “treatment” is, there are people like you defending it.

    Guess you don’t care if people are actually helped, and you discount them because it goes against what you want to be true.

    I CARE WHETHER people are ACTUALLY HELPED, whether it can be SHOWN EMPIRCALLY, using CLINICAL TRIALS of a good quality. It is you who is using ANECDOTES, I repeat ANECDOTES, to justify your beliefs based on absolutely no justifiable evidence whatsoever.

    But if they actually run tests…

    That’s your standard, they run tests, regardless of whether their treatment is grounded in sound science?

    then I guess my back must be a fake back cause working on that helped me a lot

    Subluxations have never been shown to exist, they make no sense in the context of what we know about physiology already, there is no reason or evidence to believe they exist. The concept comes from clear pseudoscience, and was used to forward the quackery that manipulation of the spine can cure all kinds of illness not related to the back.

  • Aj

    Dana,

    that’s odd……..I’ve been to several physical therapists and heard them use the words ” vertebral subluxations”. If it’s so false, how come they use it, if they supposedly are the experts? If you bother to google the term you’ll see plenty of journals and articles that write about it. Guess they’re all wrong too.

    There are MDs that are chiropractors, creationists, anti-vaccination, and homeopaths. The fact that some physical therapists are chiropractors or influenced by them does not add any credibility to chiropratic.If they promote the concept of vertebral subluxations they are promoting pseudoscience.

    If I google I can also find journals and articles that are in favour of creationism and the healing power of prayer, and much much more. That there are many of them does not add weight to their effectiveness.

    I was helped by a chiro too…

    Anecdotes and personal testimony are not enough. It has supported all kinds of quackery, even things that not only have no evidence for “treatments”, but have falsification evidence against them.

    As I mentioned in my first comment. Chiropractors use one technique that has been show to be effective in treating lower back pain that’s called manipulation, but that doesn’t mean it’s effective for the reasons chiropractors say.

    If a chiropractor says it’s subluxations, provides a treatment, that doesn’t mean they’re supported by science or that anything they say is true. If a “witch” bleeds you to get out bad spirits, if that treatment works (and it does for some diseases) that does not mean that it’s because you are now without bad spirits.

    Maybe some people posting on here should do some research before they condemn an entire field they obviously know little about.

    This is so hypocritical it’s unreal. Since it’s quite obvious from your arguments involving popularity, personal anecdote, and hearsay, that beyond your personal experience you have no idea what research has been done, or even what the concepts are about.


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