7 Things You Need to Know About Chiropractic Therapy

1) It was founded by a quack.

Daniel David Palmer discovered the power of spinal manipulation by allegedly healing a deaf man by repositioning a vertebrae in his spine. Shortly after, he healed someone with heart trouble through the same technique. Convinced he discovered a new medical technique, he opened the Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1897.

Palmer claimed that 95% of all diseases were caused by displaced vertebrae, a belief many chiropractors today still hold. To explain this, he invented new terms like “subluxation” (a displacement of the spine), which resulted in a blockage of the body’s “innate intelligence.” Whatever that means.

He refused to acknowledge the role of germs in sickness and was taken to court numerous times. His “persecution” put fuel on the fire of his new religion, where he compared himself to Jesus, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, and Martin Luther.

2) It was spread by the quack’s son, a fraud.

In 1913, Daniel Palmer was ran over in a parade by his son, Bartlett Palmer. He died a few weeks later. Some believe it was no accident, as the father and son were quarreling over chiropractic treatments. Bartlett was an entrepreneur and invented the “neurocalometer,” which he claimed detected subluxations. He sold them to 2,000 gullible graduates from his college for the price of a house.

His customers ended up dissatisfied with his product, so he was sued. It ended up all the device contained was a thermocouple — that is, an electric thermometer.

With his new riches, he created one of America’s first radio stations in 1922. In between news and general programming, the station carried lectures by Palmer, helping the chiropractic movement gain unwarranted credibility and popularity.

3) There are two kinds of chiropractors: straight and mixers.

Think of straights as fundamentalists and mixers as liberals. Straights strictly adhere to Palmer’s original teachings about subluxations and innate intelligence. They are skeptical about germ theory and vaccinations and believe chiropractic therapy can heal 95% of diseases. They are, in other words, quacks. We can only be thankful Palmer didn’t prescribe blood letting, lest these zealots try and continue the practice today.

Mixers do away with the original dogma and only claim to help with back and neck problems. If you need to go to a chiropractor because conventional medicine isn’t working for you, be sure to go to a mixer.

4) Chiropractic neck manipulations can cause strokes.

Don’t let a chiropractor snap your neck. There are two arteries that are threaded through the neck vertebrae, causing them to kink. This is usually fine, except when the neck is stretched and suddenly turned — exactly what chiropractors do. It can tear the lining of the artery, which can form a blot clot.

This has caused strokes for patients. For instance, it happened to Laurie Mathiason in 1997, as well as several other documented cases.

5) Chiropractic therapy is no more effective than therapeutic exercise, and is more expensive and risky.

Back problems are difficult to live with and difficult to treat. Conventional medicine has struggled to produce very effective treatments for back problems, so it is tempting to try alternative treatments — especially chiropractic therapy. But studies have not shown that chiropractic therapy is any more effective than conventional medicine. Worse, it is usually more expensive and risky.

After reviewing the studies done on chiropractic therapy compared with conventional medicine, the authors of Trick or Treatment? had this to say:

In terms of dealing with the underlying problem, doctors might recommend physiotherapy or exercise. And in terms of dealing with symptoms, doctors often prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NASIDs), such as ibuprofen. These approaches are, however, only mildly or marginally effective. A truly life-changing cure for back pain has not been found.

When the two approaches are compared against each other, spinal manipulation versus conventional medicine, the result is that each is just about as effective (or non-effective) as the other…. Spinal manipulation might help those who suffer with back pain, but conventional approaches offer similarly marginal levels of benefit….

Because physiotherapeutic exercise is a much safer treatment than chiropractic manipulation, we would strongly recommend the former rather than the latter as the first choice.

6) A “Doctor of Chiropractic” (DC) does not mean they are a medical doctor.

Most chiropractors put “Dr.” before their name. This might fool you into thinking they’re a medical doctor — but they’re not. A DC means the practitioner completed a 4 year chiropractic course.

That might make them an expert in cracking backs and snapping necks, but it does not make them a medical doctor, and they should not serve as a primary healthcare provider. They did not attend medical school, unless they have more than a MD as well as a DC, which is rare.

7) Chiropractors have a high fraud and sexual transgression rate.

According to a California survey in 2004, compared to medical doctors, chiropractors are:

  • 2x more likely to be involved in malpractice
  • 9x more likely to be practicing fraud
  • 2x more likely to transgress sexual boundaries

Be sure to check the reputation of a chiropractor if you are going to see one.


[digg=http://digg.com/health/7_Things_You_Need_to_Know_About_Chiropractic_Therapy]Chiropractic therapy can legitimately help some back problems. But instead of being the first option, it should probably be the last. The science of it is shaky, the risks are real, and even for back problems, it has not been shown to be more effective than conventional treatments like therapeutic exercise or pain relievers.

* * *

Further Resources

The End of an Injustice
Jenny McCarthy on The View
Autism Risk: Reality vs. Media Perception
Get Jabbed
  • http://foreverinhell.blogspot.com Personal Failure

    I refuse to refer to chiropractors as “Dr. Soandso”. They are not doctors.

  • Seismicmike

    Wow! Thanks for this. I’ve heard countless people tell me that chiropractic care is a hack, but have never really seen laid out why. Thanks for the education.

  • blotonthelandscape

    A good article, but I have a feeling that what goes on in America is not a worldwide phenomenon. I have a friend who is studying chiropractic at a university in South Africa. It is a 7-year degree, and the level of anatomical and medical knowledge in the the course is equivalent to that of a doctor (she even gets her own cadaver!). When she comes out of it, she will be an MD, but with chiropractic techniques attached.

    And it does help a lot of people for whom “ordinary” medical treatment can’t or won’t help.

    So it is interesting to see the statistics, but I think the discipline itself is not the problem, it is the poor training in the US.

  • http://www.theamenheresy.com Bill

    Change a few words here and there and it sounds like the Mormon religion.

  • http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com McBloggenstein

    Good post!
    It’s interesting to read about it’s origins.

    When I was a kid, I woke up one day with my neck “stuck” turned to one side. My mom took me to a chiropractor. I’ll never forget that guy cranked my head back and forth cracking my neck many times. I was amazed it felt fine after that, but it’s never been quite right since. I’ve always had neck issues. Of course I don’t really know if that is because of the original problem, or what the chiropractor did.

  • Anon
  • RobotzAreAwesome

    I’ve got some serious back pain for a young adult and have come to the same conclusions, as all chiro’s I’ve seen have been completely useless.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Palmer claimed that 95% of all diseases were caused by displaced vertebrae, a belief many chiropractors today still hold

    It is a common claim of assorted quackery to be able to diagnose or treat all sorts of ailments all over the body by concentrating on one particular part. You will see similar claims in iridology, reflexology, etc.

    Mixers do away with the original dogma and only claim to help with back and neck problems.

    Even if “mixers” are willing to help patients with effective techniques from other disciplines, this does nothing to establish chiropractic as an effective discipline for either diagnosis or treatment. That could only be established through carefully controlled clinical trials (i.e. the scientific method), and chiropractic has never been shown to be effective in clinical trials.

    If a chiropractor diagnoses you with one leg longer than the other, be aware that this is probably completely bogus, and is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

    For a good dose of skepticism about “alternative medicine,” Check out the blog Respectful Insolence.

  • Marley

    When I was a kid, I was jumping on a trampoline and slipped and fell off, hurting my back. My parents took me to a chiropractor, who I assume was a mixer, because he made no claim to be able to cure disease with spine adjustments. My chiropractic adjustment didn’t involve any neck snapping; the whole experience was kind of like a really good massage.
    While I understand my experience with a chiropractor may be atypical and I can believe that there are a lot of hucksters conning people out of their money and causing spinal damage, I don’t see anything wrong with a good back-cracking every now and then, assuming you aren’t trying to cure cancer with it.

  • http://thinkingforfree.blogspot.com Eamon Knight

    Nit-pick: “subluxation” is a legitimate medical term (check Wikipedia for the details) meaning a dislocation. I recently found this out when I had my hands X-rayed (on referral from my GP) due to finger-joint pain I’ve been having, and the report came back “no subluxations”. It’s only attributing every damn thing to subluxations of the spine (and then conveniently claiming to find such) that is bogus.

    As for “mixers”: I’ve had physio for back pain, which included some (lumbar) spinal manipulation, as well as exercise and other therapies. A lot of it sounds like what a chiro might do as well, but I figure, why not just stick to straight-up standard medicine, and avoid going near the borderline of Woo-Land?

  • Ngl

    Palmer college is actually within eyeshot of my apartment. It’s a nice campus and the students are good people but its weird to think that once they graduate with a non-medical degree, they are going to go out and open practices with the intention of “treating” people.

  • Francesco Orsenigo

    Nice article.
    Homeopathy’s next?

  • LRA

    I am always extremely skeptical of all “healing arts” outside of mainstream medicine. Just as I am somewhat skeptical of “healing arts” inside of mainstream medicine (especially pharmaceuticals– seeing as how they’re in it for the bucks and not the cure).

    If you have a serious medical problem, always get a second opinion!! Also, ask your doctor how new the medicine (s)he is prescribing you. It might still be in trials.

  • http://www.originalfaith.com/blog/index.html Paul Maurice Martin

    As an alternative, people thinking about chiropractic might want to consider an osteopath who performs chiropractic-style manipulations a regular part of his or her practice. These physicians are much more likely to integrate manipulation with exercise and referral for physical therapy. They also seem to offer a greater variety of manipulations and perform them using less force..

  • http://flies-and-bikes.com/wordpress/ GrumpyBob

    The British Chiropractic Association are suing Simon Singh over an article critical of chiropractic he wrote in the Guardian. As far as I recall, he didn’t write anything that was not supportable by evidence, so this may be an interesting trial to follow. Jack of Kent is following the process in his blog – see http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2009/03/bca-v-singh-date-set-for-first-hearing.html for example.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    I used to drive truck, therefore I suffer back pain, mostly due to the extra thirty or forty pounds I packed on during five years over the road.

    I’ve seen three or four bonecrackers in that time, and while I found them helpful I’ve needed them less and less as my life has changed to include a bit of exercise and better diet.

    It’s not that I’m not grateful, but even woo that apparently works is still woo. And it works for a set of specific symptoms. I’d never go to a chiro who claimed to have any effect on anything else.

  • marf

    Over the past half dozen years I have been seeing a straight chiropractor to help me (successfully) with the kinks I got from tension as a result of the stress in my life. The adjustments cost very little ($15) and I don’t need to make appointments. I’d like to see the mainstream medical community beat that.
    If I had anything other than one of those kinks in the back, though, I’d make an appointment (minimum of three days depending on severity of complaint), sit for hours in a waiting room being shuffled from one area to another (always bring a book along!), see a medical doctor for all of five minutes, and be handed “sample” pills some over-zealous pharmaceutical salesman wants the doctor to push … for a minimum of $40 (for a GP, $100 for a specialist), only a percentage of which goes toward my deductible. Lucky me to have any insurance at all.
    Interesting article. That bit about the neck snapping is worrying.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    The neck-cracking injuries were an issue in Canada a few years ago, and I believe that specific technique was outlawed.
    Cracking necks destroys lives

    I wonder if that episode led some chiropractors to get involved in politics to further their profession, to accomplish through influence on legislation what it fails to accomplish in clinical trials.

    James Lunney: Creationist, Chiropractor, Conservative

    Gary Goodyear “Clarifies” hist stance on evolution

    Both politicians described in those links are chiropractors and creationists. The latter, Gary Goodyear, is also Canada’s Minister of State (Science and Technology).

  • http://custador.wordpress.com/ custador

    I’m with Dawkins on this issue. It’s doubly frustrating as a British taxpayer, because the National Health Service does fund alternative therapies such as acupuncture and chiropracty despite their being no evidence whatsoever that they offer any benefit above the natural background rate of people who’d get better anyway. I hate the idea that my money might be funding these people.

  • mstria

    Been lurking here for months and felt I had to speak up on this one.

    Back in the 80s my dad fell off from a roof at work. Because he had no health insurance he went first to a Chiro. The guy took x-rays, did an adjustment and sent him on his way with instructions to come back in for more “therapy”. My dad got progressively worse. He finally went to see the family doctor and with the original x-ray from the Chiro they found that his 4 of his small vertebra were broken. He ended up having to have a spinal fusion and still has problems to this day.

    On the other hand, I sprained my back a few years ago playing with my daughter. I was in so much pain I swear I’d rather give birth than go through that again. I went to the ER and spent the next 6hrs being pumped so full of pain killers I was either unconscious or incoherent. I was shuffled from one specialist to another and sent home with a prescription for vicodin and told it was just muscular and to stay off my feet (pretty funny since I couldn’t even stand on my own) and to keep heat on it.

    After days in a drug induced haze and personal hell I broke down and had my husband take me to a local Chiro. There I found out my back was in fact sprained and that putting heat on it was making me worse. He did not crack my back or do any adjustments. Instead he used a tens unit, instructed me to use cold packs on my back, take alternating ibuprofen and tylenol and a list of stretches and exercises to do to help me get better.
    I went in not being able to stand up straight, couldn’t walk without holding on to my husband. When I left I was able to walk on my own and my posture was noticeably a lot less stooped.

    I’m sure I would have gotten better (though much much slower) on my own. But I’m still astounded by the difference in care I received.
    Conventional medicine: Drugs, drugs and if that fails stronger drugs.
    My Chiropractor: Physical therapy

    That being said, I’d never go to a chiropractor for anything other than back problems. He’s not going to help me at all if I come down with any other ailments.

  • K

    I think you need to look at your sources. Yes, the first guy found it by accident (penicillin was supposedly discovered that way- do you have a problem with anti-biotics?) but there have been many advances since then.

    The first two years of Chiro school is the SAME as medical school. They are educated as doctors- only later they focus on the joints and muscles.

    Manipulations aren’t done if there is any risk of fractures of broken bones (after any trauma). In Canada, and the US, Chiropractors, along with Physiotherapists are working with doctors in spinal rehab clinics in hospitals!!! That has to say something about the validity of their practice.

    As for the neck cracking deaths, those are rare!! And often due to complications. Think of how many people are fine after appointments. Do you not fly because of the rare plane crashes you hear about on the news (you never hear about the millions of flights that land safely).

    People are right to have their concerns- the unknown is scary. But if you are having back or joint pain, and a medical doctor hasn’t helped, see a registered chiropractor and ask all the questions you want.

  • elflocko

    I guess I’ve had atypical experiences with chiropractors as well. Twelve years ago I was involved in a head-on automobile accident. The ER sent me home with instructions to use ice and ibuprofen. Within a couple of days I couldn’t move my neck, could barely stand up straight, and overall felt like crap. My company had a health fair, and I ran into a chiropractor. Though I had always considered them quacks, I relented to the pain and went in for a visit. I felt 100% better after the adjustment, and occasionally go back if I pull something or fall down a flight of stairs. However, part of that is due to the DC I go to being an anomaly in that he is one of the few I’ve met who isn’t a “used car salesman”. He’s never said “You need to come in 36 times for me to cure you” like I’ve heard from some, but rather “If you feel better, I’ll see you when I see you. If not, come back in a week or two”.

    Of course on the other hand, he is big into kineseology(sp?) which makes him sound like a raving lunatic at times, but he has never had a malpractice claim filed against him, let alone a stroke\death incident due to high neck manipulation.

    I would like for someone to supply statistics pertaining to the incidence of stroke\death\impairment due to neck manipulation just to see if it’s any more common statistically than say car accidents, prescription drug screw ups, botched surgeries, and assorted malpractice\tomfoolery, at least proportionally…

  • Not Delusioned

    I was not a believer in chiropractic, until I had a neck injury that traditional medicine could not heal. After months of agony, my former wife convinced me to try her Palmer-trained DC. 3 treatments later I was completely healed. A year or so later I had a back/hip injury and did not hesitate to visit same DC. 2 treatments later, problem solved. She was extremely gentle in her adjustments and very professional. It’s been 10 years since these events and I have been healthy in this regard, but would seek chiropractic treatment again with the right DC, as I do believe there are a lot of quacks in the profession.

  • http://taooftrav.blogspot.com/ SagaciousT

    Daniel I think this my be the first time since finding your site that I disagree with something you wrote, mostly points 4, 5 & 6.

    I didn’t have the time to pour into research on this, that I would have liked to before commenting, but suffice to say, that while many medical procedures that exist today can be traced back at least to ancient Egypt, I am willing to guesstimate that those procedures are more “medicine man” than Doogie Houser, and are also likely steeped in religion like many other healers. Just because this particular vein of medicine has come from dubious roots, doesn’t mean it couldn’t & hasn’t evolved into something more practical and useful.

    Maybe it has something to do with our societies increasing need for instant gratification. I dunno, but I was not a “follower” at first. I suffer from back pain as result of aggravated injury. I did my time with prescription drugs and therapy (California even offered the option of medicinal marijuana). My first trip to a chiro doc was only because I was desperate and had a family friend who had been practicing for 15 years or so. I was tense and nervous about him hurting me…and I walked out almost pain free after one visit. After a few more I didn’t need to return again until years later.

    And the doc, wasn’t all touchy-feely and brimming with naturopathic remedies. He in fact used his techniques in conjunction with recommended further physical therapy. He was straight forward, to the point and wanted to fix my problem at hand. There are some who like to set you down the road of regular visits to keep you “healthy”, that’s where it starts to become expensive.

    Currently my close friend is in his 3rd year (of 5 or 6 total, I think) at chiro college and I have had some very deep conversations with him about his schooling. One topic that actually arose recently was about how all the chiro schools have and are continuing to add, more and more medical classes to round out their training. He studies the nervous system, the musculature of the body, he works on cadavers, and studies bones and ligaments and now how to administer shots and take blood and deliver a baby and all kinds of other things that I never would have imagined would be needed as a chiro doc. But yet that IS what he is becoming…a chiropractic doctor, an MD.

    So if we start recognizing these procedures as truly medical procedures then you can start comparing the potential risks to other medical procedures too. Even if you want to consider “non-essential” procedures…how about how the risks of death when people go in for cosmetic alterations, lypo, boob implants, etc…My point is, if you look hard enough, you can find potential risk in anything.

    In item 7 you fail to acknowledge the conclusions from that survey: “The professions differ in the major reasons for disciplinary actions. Two thirds (67%) of the doctors of chiropractic were disciplined for fraud and sexual boundary issues, compared with 59% for negligence and substance misuse for medical physicians. Additional study in each profession may reveal methods to identify causes and possible intervention for those who are at high risk.”

    Most notably you are comparing the indiscretions of medical practitioners with the very people you claim are NOT real medical practitioners. So which one is it; Apples to oranges or apple to apples? Seems all this survey really does is show that the high stress MD’s take drugs and screw up more than the low stress MD’s who “screw around” and look for ways to make more money…in California…I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise. To me, it just goes to show that we probably need to start treating chiro MD’s like any other MD…including when it comes to rules and conduct.

    Your conclusion is not wrong, in that “Chiropractic therapy can legitimately help [many] problems. But instead of being the first option, it should probably be the last.” However in this day and age it is unfair, unwise and frankly naive, to assume that all chiro science is shaky, risky, expensive and ineffective.

    So the saying goes…millions of satisfied customers can’t be wrong. Of course many of your detractors would say the same about religion, so don’t take my word for it ;)


  • Dave F

    This article is somewhat nicely written, and like most propaganda has some intelligence to it. However, I live in the world of facts. I have studied anatomy and physiology and understand that the spine can pinch nerves causing massive amounts of pain which modern medicine tries to treat by using addicting pain killers. One of the rib heads in my back behind my should blades keeps popping out. Of course, the best treatment is exercise and to stop doing the thing that makes it worse – which happens to be sitting at computers. Well, it hurt so freakin bad, that I couldn’t do a push up. I went to a doctor who tried to give me pain pills and he said to ice it and that it would gradually feel better. I told a family member about the pain, she recommended her chiropractor. I went to see him and he explained in a very easy to understand way what had happened with my rib head. 15 minutes later after relaxing in his office he popped it back in for me. I have never felt such relief. The pain was gone immediately. I’ve seen him several times since. His advice and techniques have helped improve my quality of life greatly. I also am able to exercise with out the severe pain I was feeling.

    So, before you take too much from this blog, do some research. Visit a chiropractor or twelve, interview them, ask what their techniques are. Check out the office, see how busy it is. The chiropractor I visit is busy all of the time, no matter when I go to his office. He wouldn’t be that busy for several years now if he was a “quack.”

  • http://www.katiedidsdesigns.com Katie

    Be careful what you read, lest you miss out on true experience.

    Stephen Barrett, also, though well-published in his quack-busting theories, is not all that he’s “quacked” up to be: http://www.canlyme.com/quackwatch.html

  • Thaddeus Dombrowski

    I have had chronic back problems for about 11 years. I have seen several chiropractors. One was truly beneficial. He used something called the “Molar method” (not sure on the spelling).

    This chiropractor didn’t manipulate the spine. Instead, he worked to relieve muscular tension to achieve a balance in opposing forces affecting the spine.

    Of the others, one was somewhat reckless in adjusting my back without understanding what the problem was. This was before my herniated disc was diagnosed by a medical doctor.

    I have since found that by practicing yoga I don’t need to see chiropractors at all. I have been doing bikram yoga for about 8 months and have been feeling much better.

  • adrielhampton

    If chiro works for you, do it. If not, don’t. I find it reduces frequency of colds and have found it more effective than most MD treatments. Oh, and I checked all this out before starting any treatment. I’ve had one chiro who didn’t do much good, and two who are great.

  • Thaddeus Dombrowski

    BTW, if any chiropractor tells you of a story of having a spinal adjustment as a baby, leave immediately. I have heard this story repeated by two different doctors, and have come to learn of others who also tell the same story. It seems to be some sort of marketing shtick they pick up.

    The story is that during childbirth the doctor pulled them out by the head resulting in a sublexed spinal column. They couldn’t stop crying, no matter what Mom and Dad tried to do for the baby. Finally, after losing days of sleep and being at wit’s end, they heard about a chiropractor who might help. The chiropractor adjusted the baby’s neck and from that point on the baby was sweet as sugar.

  • Mike Moats

    Interesting subject and responses. I watch a lot of different sports, football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf. I have heard that these sports teams all have a chiros that do adjustments on these multi millions dollar players. My question is if this is a bunch of quacks cracking backs and necks that your saying is bad, why would these teams risk these players to a scam. I would think the teams would have researched this practice and found that is was benefical or they wouldn’t take a chance on screwing up one of their star players.

  • eastkentuckygal

    I am a fan of chiropractic and while some of the things you posted may be true, I have found that it works for my family. It has kept me from having to go on pain meds to treat a severe curvature in my spine. It helped me carry an 11 pound infant to 41 weeks and 6 days without significant pain even with a pubis separation. It has kept my youngest daughter healthy and strong when coupled with cranio sacral therapy. It has improved her sleep and her immune system. I believe that western medicine is so flawed in its approach to treating disease that I’m way more comfortable with going to alternatives first. Oh, and I don’t have insurance. Chiropractic is way more affordable than a regular doctor.

  • Christian Robot

    The only quack here is the one that wrote this article.

  • http://pluckymama.wordpress.com/ The Informal Matriarch

    my chiro saved my life when I was pregnant with my son and crawling across the floor because of sciatic pain. He had me 99% better after my first visit. No one else could help, the MD told me there was nothing I could do. My chiro made me able to walk again. Much better than taking drugs for it no? Plus getting an adjustment is good for my anxiety attacks.

    Chiros rock my world.

  • J

    While the history of chiropractic does seem questionable, the profession has come a long way from there. Many schools (especially the internationally recognized ones – many schools in the US are not internationally recognized because they are not held up to the standards set by regulatory bodies) are accredited and evidenced based. Techniques and research are incorporated into teaching the new generation of chiropractors. “Cracking backs” is no longer the cure all. A good chiropractor will prescribe exercise/rehab, and will do soft tissue work as well.

    Adjusting/manipulation is still a large part of the profession but in many cases, it is considered a “last resort.” Meck adjusting is taught but students are hammered to look for red flags and to be cautious of the risk. It is an adjustment of necessity. If you go see a DC who suggests a neck adjustment if your knee hurts, RUN AWAY.

    Science courses are taught in the curriculum and are taught by professors either holding MD’s, PhD’s or both. Interprofessional programs are a huge success – med students are often surprised at the high standards chiro students are held to, and as well as the labs and facilities and classes. In addition, it is not just “4 years” Admission to a chiropractic college is second entry with a minimum of 3 years of undergrad with prerequisites. Going through the course is also not just enough. Standard regulated board exams (just like medical doctors) are written at graduation to obtain a license to practice. Boards are written in 3-4 parts, 6 hour exams for each part.

    I’m not suggesting that DC’s can cure everything. With all health care related treatments there is a risk, whether it be stroke from a neck adjustment or from taking the wrong dosage/mixture of pharmaceuticals. Chiro’s are specialized in muscles, joints, bones, and the associated neurology. They are the “non-surgical spine specialists.” Although I tend to think of them as joint specialists as they can do wonderful things with extremities as well!

    I see both a MD and and DC. There are some things my MD just cannot do for me. I am a competitive athlete.
    My DC is also a fellow of sports rehab, with post graduate degrees in sports medicine, rehab and orthopedics. When I get injured on the field, I can get pack into the game faster than if I saw my MD who’d prescribe me a few pain killers and tell me to rest. Yes, I’m sure I can visit a PT as well, but I feel my DC is more qualified and educated to give me the care I need.

    As for being more expensive than conventional medicine-not really. If you don’t have a drug plan or have insurance, visiting your MD can become quite costly.

    There are quacks out there that give chiropractors a bad name. As with all health care issues, do your research, find out what techniques they use, what school they went to, how they practice, and what they can do for you. Make an informed decision. Use your head and your judgment.

  • http://c-bomb.net Carli

    I’ve heard a lot of things to go against Chiropractors but nobody had much of a back story. Interesting read.

  • http://samnunnally.wordpress.com Sam

    Daniel -

    I researched the strange bahaviors of another “quack” recently that reminded me of your post. He was a chronic date setter who obsessed over the Book of Revelation looking for future prophecy “clues.” Drawing from his extensive knowledge of Neoplatonism and other alternative occult movements such as alchemy, this guy also believed in some universal fluid that promoted interconnectivity throughout the cosmos. The effects of this fluid could be felt on earth due to its possession of a spiritual quality.

    Who was he? Isaac Newton.

    His occult-based theory? Gravity.

    Of course, we have sanitized Newton’s origins of gravity for the sake of scientific naturalism, but rarely has anything been discovered in an intellectual or religious vaccuum. That’s more of a new idea in our society (something to continue studying, I suppose). The scientific method may be “neutral” in it’s ability empirically measure data. But people are not…and I suppose that will always be the case.


  • Stankly

    Chiropracters offer alternative treatment. Most physicians today are money centers. They run their practice like money machines, cramming and stacking appointments together. They have no bedside manner, don’t even know who you are and prescribe the same drugs and treatment to everyone. They don’t think outside the box because of liability. They do the standard, might as well be a plumber.

    I would say only 20% of all physicians really care about curing people, the rest 80% are thinking about their fourth wife and how to keep her from gouging him for what he has worked hard for!!

    Most conventional MD’s (are surgeons) prescribe surgery quickly because they make astronomical amounts of money doing the surgery. Just 20-30 years ago, you would never have this many people having back or neck surgeries and these seniors today seem to be doing fine without it. Some are stacking surgeries per day now because they can make multi millions by forty. Unfortunately many doctors are unhappy married to high maintenance females that make them work, work, work……….While their patient’s quality of care goes down, down, down, down……

  • bdemong

    I have no strong opinion about chiropractice — perhaps I will investigate further if it becomes relevant — but I am very interested to see that so many of the responses are on the order of “I have a personal experience, and…”

    10,000,000 Elvis fans *can* be wrong.

  • libertybaptist

    Chiropractors aren’t all bad. Doctors aren’t all good. I had a lady in my church with excruciating back pain. She didn’t believe in chiropractors, so she only went to doctors. They said she “had bone cancer” and recommended exploratory surgery. I suggested that she see the chiropractor, and she waddled into the room. The chiropractor didn’t lay a hand on her; he just asked one question: “Are you on cholesterol lowering medicine?” She said, “Yes.” And he said, “That’s your problem. And if you stop taking it today, it will still take six months for you to heal and stop having pain.” She quit the medicine. She didn’t have cancer. And in six months the pain went away.

    By the way, if you want to say that the chiropractory discipline was started by a quack, well just answer this one question: who were all the quacks bleeding people in the 17th and 18th centuries: doctors or chiropractors?

    I think you know the answer: DOCTORS.

    • A.Ou

      “I think you know the answer: DOCTORS.”
      You give a straw man argument – the practice of medicine, to which you owe your health, has progressed fairly well since the 18th century.

  • oregonnerd

    And interesting that osteopathic doctors use chiropractic techniques. Prejudice is a part of being able to decide; prejudgment is the inability to learn–and it would seem an absolute statement would be a good indication of prejudgment. Faith is faith. It just depends on what sorts of names you want to use to justify it.

  • http://fitprosarah.wordpress.com fitprosarah

    What the majority of people don’t realize is that there is nothing a chiro does that is a “miracle”…popping joints doesn’t do anything but put them back in their “normal” state…then you walk out of the office and carry on your regular routine, and a gazillion things are gonna cause that horrible, nasty, deadly “subluxation” to recur…

    gravity places stress on the spine…
    sleeping in the same position places stress on the spine…
    driving…reading…using a computer…

    all of these are things we encounter day in and day out.

    when you pop a joint, it does nothing to relieve the tissues surrounding it that are stressed out. the joint doesn’t cause the problems…the tissues have more power.

    once I got savvy to this…and realized I wasn’t to be brainwashed, I began asking the last ‘quacktor I worked for all kinds of questions…trying to get answers…the typical response was “because it works.”

    one day I asked him something along the lines of “so, how come you can’t just stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak ones that oppose them?”

    he gave me a funny look and didn’t say anything.

    I feel what I do as a Fitness Professional carries a TON more weight than what any ‘quacktor out there can do. I don’t enable my clients…I don’t brainwash them and try to use scare tactics to sell them on “corrective care” plans that last a lifetime. I want my clients to be empowered and to take control of their health. If the public knew of the crap I witnessed working for the last quack, he’d be shut down by now. Insurance fraud, faulty x-ray readings…you name it.


  • http://fitprosarah.wordpress.com fitprosarah

    Just thought of another thing…I dated a chiro years and years ago…make that a decade, to be exact…who was actually back in school…to become an MD. Prior to this, I would see his commercials on TV and he was the typical handsome younger chiropractor dude…big white grin and all…and at the same time I knew of another who was trying to get into law school.

    I feel many view chiro as a way of making easy money…then they get into it and realize they were stupid to be thinking that way in the first place, and stuck in something that cost them an arm and a leg to get to.

    I keep having flashbacks…one of which is the last dude I worked for…he had these “drop” tables…they would make this sound when you performed an adjustment…to me, it seemed to be somewhat for theatrical effect…he would pop the back or hip or whatever he was doing…the table would drop an inch or so, make a noise, and he’d gently remove his hands slowly, as if he had the magic touch and had healed the poor patient. The best was when the patient would look up at him with this “that’s it?” expression. Priceless.

    The scripts make me sick. No wonder at the time I felt compelled to stop at the store on the way home to pick up a few beers…I didn’t even like beer. Working there drove me to my wits end. I was disgusted just being a part of that charade. I would have to say stuff like “your body has an innate ability to heal itself. When a subluxation occurs, it puts pressure on nerves that are responsible for sending messages throughout the body. When these messages are interfered with, the body can’t function as it optimally should…yadda yadda yadda.” What a crock of sh*t!

    Wow…okay, i’d better stop because i’m realizing I could get carried away with stories!

  • artpage1

    Dr. J wasn’t a real doctor either. He was pretty knowledgeable about dribbling and Chapstick though.

    Is it true that if a chiropractor snaps a man’s back just right that he can get a something called a priapism?

  • Alan

    What exactly is your deal here? You’re using Wikipedia (not a reliable source of facts) and a biased, anti-chiropractic website (also not reliable, obviously because it is anti-chiropractic) to support a bunch of baseless slander against a profession of which you seem to have no knowledge or first-hand experience about. Some of the information you posted was completely incorrect, with no citation or anything. Even the sources you do list are highly suspect and without much close examination it is easy to find flaws in them. Did you notice that the JRSM study you posted, “Adverse effects of spinal manipulation” is not an actual study, but instead just the reported findings after searching through a bunch of other studies specifically looking for adverse effects of said manipulations. The biggest problem being that these “manipulations” were not necessarily performed by Chiropractors, in fact it even lists so in the study. Only 32 cases over a six-year period could even be found in the entire database, and ten of those were not even performed by Chiropractors. One manipulation was performed by an MD, another by an Orthopedic Surgeon, a Shiatsu practitioner, other professions weren’t even stated.

    This blog posting is not a skeptic view of Chiropractic, this is an anti-chiropractic piece written with prejudice. You do not know enough information about D.D. Palmer nor B.J. Palmer to say that they were “quacks”. Further, you do not have any knowledge about Chiropractic or even higher education in general based on what you wrote. A medical doctor goes to Medical school, practices medicine and they become Medical Doctors; hence the M.D. at the end of their title. A doctor of chiropractic goes to Chiropractic school, practices chiropractic and they become Doctors of Chiropractic; hence the D.C. at the end of their title. Both MDs and DCs must complete basically identical undergraduate work before being accepted to their respected schools. Both MDs and DCs also must complete their rigorous graduate program, both must take extensive board exams to become licensed and both are required to continue their education to remain licensed. So, your typical Chiropractic student will require about SEVEN to EIGHT years of college before they can be licensed to practice. And yes, they are doctors just a different kind. It’s not a trick or scam as you put it, their degrees lists them as Doctors of Chiropractic and they earn the title of Doctor.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    A good site for informing yourself about medical quackery is . I am copying below the beginning of a Quackwatch article by Stephen Barrett, M.D., about acupuncture, another system of “alternative” medicine that is based on ancient Chinese superstition instead of the fevered thinking of a possibly mad medical quack who lived not all that long ago.

    (By the way, it is important to keep two things in mind: [1] Just because some tradition is ancient, that does not mean that it is not completely based on superstition and [2] coining a new word in a language does not necessarily create a new reality.

    (Chinese “chi” forces have all the reality of the luminiferous ether, which was thought to be the “atmosphere” that carried light the way air and water carry sound, or phlogiston, an ethereal substance that was thought to be the essential ingredient of fire before oxygen was discovered. [Harleigh Kyson Jr.])

    Anyhow, here is the beginning of Dr. Barrett’s article:

    “Chinese medicine,” often called “Oriental medicine” or “traditional Chinese medicine (TCM),” encompasses a vast array of folk medical practices based on mysticism. It holds that the body’s vital energy (chi or qi) circulates through channels, called meridians, that have branches connected to bodily organs and functions. Illness is attributed to imbalance or interruption of chi.. Ancient practices such as acupuncture, Qigong, and the use of various herbs are claimed to restore balance.

    Traditional acupuncture, as now practiced, involves the insertion of stainless steel needles into various body areas. A low-frequency current may be applied to the needles to produce greater stimulation. Other procedures used separately or together with acupuncture include: moxibustion (burning of floss or herbs applied to the skin); injection of sterile water, procaine, morphine, vitamins, or homeopathic solutions through the inserted needles; applications of laser beams (laserpuncture); placement of needles in the external ear (auriculotherapy); and acupressure (use of manual pressure).

    Treatment is applied to “acupuncture points,” which are said to be located throughout the body. Originally there were 365 such points, corresponding to the days of the year, but the number identified by proponents during the past 2,000 years has increased gradually to about 2,000. Some practitioners place needles at or near the site of disease, whereas others select points on the basis of symptoms. In traditional acupuncture, a combination of points is usually used.

  • seasofsilver

    BUT it feels so GOOD!!!!!

  • http://www.paspic.wordpress.com paspic

    A goo dread, well researched and presented, it is always good to know as much about something as possible

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    I find it interesting how the only argument people are giving is “but it worked for me (or someone I know)!” It’s like religion — that actually has nothing to do with truth. People who support alternative medicine always say it works for someone — and it does. But that doesn’t mean they got better because of the alternative medicine. They often go when they are at their worst, and there is only better to get (unless they die, in which case they are not around to say it didn’t work). Or they changed something else they are not remembering. Or any number of other things.

    Correlation is not causation. We can’t trust our “common sense” when it comes to this stuff. That’s why bloodletting was so popular — it seemed to everyone to work. Doctors were all saying “but it works for me!” But they were wrong — they were being fooled by their “common sense.” So instead of trusting in anecdotes, we must trust in actual, controlled, clinical trials. That is what proved bloodletting wrong, and that’s what proves chiropractic therapy is only as effective as basic conventional treatments, but more risky often more expensive (because you have to go so often).

    It’s not about whether it works for some people. It matters whether it works for a group of people in controlled testing conditions, compared to a placebo group and a control group. And that’s what this is based on. If you’re going to argue, you have to argue with that. Not that it worked for you, your grandma, or your dog. That doesn’t matter. Taking a sugar pill works for many people. That doesn’t mean it is effective.

  • blogbalm

    All problems asside, I plead the case for these professionals in one arena, and that is the accusations of sexual assualt. I have had chiropractic care and it is easy to understand why people would be uncomfortable with the process, and some might even draw some very wrong conclusions. People’s lives have been ruined from these false accusations of sexual assualt. Proffesionals from every field of medicine have been accused, but because chiropractic therapy is so shady, people are more apt to beleive a chiropractor is guilty than someone from another profession. It’s a shame that people continue to make blind accusations like this. We have not improved at all from the days of witch hunts…

    I am not for or against chiropractic therapy. I don’t beleive it is sufficient as a cure for a diesese, nor a replacement for regular medical care. If it is just a case of minor back discomfort, however, it certainly is legitimate. I do not agree with medicine’s obsession with vaccinating for everything. They very conveniently cover up the instances where vaccinations go wrong. One of those cases happened to be my older sister. Needless to say I sign waivers for vaccinations these days.

  • bigdesk

    The Museum of Chiropractic,(The Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport IA) is as close to the weirdest funhouse as any place I have ever seen. The chiropractic axiom is that there are nerves that travel to every organ in the body. If there is an interruption of the nerve function, disease will result. All disease is a result of this. They can account for every decease based upon interruption of the nervous system and that includes cancer. They say the patient should not give up the treatment because it may take a long time.
    Very Dangerous for somebody with cancer.

  • Annie

    These writings are full of bull and I’m so tired of it. First of all, it has been proven that patients who experience strokes after going to a chiropractor are already in the process of dissection. What that means is that they would’ve had it anyway. Why do you think my malpractice insurance is a minute fraction of what a medical doctor pays? It’s because going to a chiropractor is safe. My degree requires the same courses as an MDs with the exclusion of drugs and surgery and the reason I became a chiropractor is because it made people well, not for the neck and backaches it fixes. I studied health, wellness and nutrition in school unlike MDs. I have patients coming to me because the physical therapist hurt them more, in fact, I it should be considered malpractice for an MD not to refer injured patients to the chiropractor.

  • LRA

    Ok- I feel compelled to respond to the people on this post that say that a chiropractor studies essentially the same curriculum as a doctor. That is total horse sh*t.

    Here is a link to the curriculum of the “third oldest chiropractic school in the nation”:


    Here is a link to the curriculum of the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons:


    Seriously. Not. Even. Close.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    From http://www.quackwatch.com, I got the following comments about subluxations and interference with the body’s nerve supply, which apparently can be increased or decreased:

    “Chiropractic theory is rooted in the notions of Daniel David Palmer, a grocer and “magnetic healer” who postulated that the basic cause of disease was interference with the body’s nerve supply. Approximately a hundred years ago, he concluded that

    “A subluxated vertebrae . . . is the cause of 95 percent of all diseases. . . . The other five percent is caused by displaced joints other than those of the vertebral column.” He proclaimed that subluxations interfered with the body’s expression of “Innate Intelligence”—the “Soul, Spirit, or Spark of Life” that controlled the healing process. He proposed to remedy the gamut of disease by manipulating or “adjusting” the problem areas.”

    Practitioners of psychistic medicine agree with chiropractors about all this. Unfortunately, chiropractors do not understand that instead of subluxations of vertebrae, the real cause of all these problems is psychomagnetic storms producing distortions in the different parts of a person’s aura that control these physiological functions in the human body.

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    Here is an interesting video in which, among other things, a chiropractor tells why he left the profession because he ultimately developed the intellectual integrity to realize that he was unqualified to practice medicine.


    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    Here is some information about a support group for people who have been victimized by chiropractors that I am copying from http://www.quackwatch.com:

    “Victims of Chiropractic, http://www.vocact.com, is a support network and clearinghouse for reliable information on chiropractic’s hazards and foibles. We are closely allied with Quackwatch, the National Council Against Health Fraud, and the National Association for Chiropractic Medicine (a chiropractic reformist group).

    “Our educational outreach also includes basic information on the psychology of quackery and human vulnerability. V.O.C. was founded in 1991 by George J. Magner, III, author of Chiropractic: The Victim’s Perspective . I assumed leadership in 1997, shortly before Magner’s untimely death from colon cancer.

    “Peter J. Modde, D.C., a chiropractor who began speaking out publicly about chiropractic’s shortcomings during the 1970s, warned that: Chiropractic is based on a false theory. Its practitioners are inadequately trained in diagnosis, and most do not know their limitations. . . .

    “Since chiropractors are licensed as “doctors,” most people who consult them expect to be “properly medically diagnosed.”

    “Patients also assume that if their problem is beyond the scope of chiropractic, they will be referred to an appropriate practitioner. . . . The more the patient relies on the chiropractor for diagnosis of his case, the more vulnerable he will be.

    “Patients who use chiropractors as their primary physicians, either because they don’t know any better or because they have been turned off by orthodox medical care, run the greatest risk .”

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    Here is some interesting information I got from http://www.quackwatch.com about several books that look very interesing. I don’t know how long ago this information was posted onto Quackwatch, so the books may be out of print. You may be able to find used copies of them at amazon.com if they are not readily available from their publishers:

    “George Magner has produced a comprehensive report on chiropractic’s history, current status, marketing tactics, dubious diagnostics and therapeutics, insurance abuses, dangers, “chiropractic pediatrics,” and more. Thoroughly referenced. Edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D. Hardcover, 260 pages, 50 illustrations, $27.

    “Stephen Barrett, M.D., and Victor Herbert, M.D., J.D., explain in detail why the industry is a form of organized crime. The topics include propaganda techniques, “nutrition insurance,” “stress vitamins,” the pharmacy connection, “ergogenic aids,” dubious diagnostic tests, fad diagnoses, nutrition cultism, the endless parade of gurus, the multilevel mirage, “chiropractic nutrition,” homeopathic fakery, elaborate marketing schemes, nutrition and the media, “vitamin wars,” companies that have marketed illegally, and glossary of supplements and “health foods.” Hardcover, 548 pages, 100 illustrations, $30. (Canada 31.00)

    “Jack Raso, M.S., R.D., examines the practices and philosophic underpinnings of more than 200 types of “alternative” methods and describes personal experiences with many. Features ayurveda, Qigong, reiki, yoga, macrobiotics, “body psychotherapies,” “mystical” chiropractic, Cayce remedies, naturopathy, Natural Hygiene. Hardcover, 275 pages, $30.

    “The most important and comprehensive book about quackery ever published. Covers chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, faith healing, vitamin pushers, mail-order quackery, “fad” diagnoses, overselling of herbs, cancer and arthritis quackery, unproven “allergies,” dubious dentistry, multilevel marketing, immunoquackery, “organic” foods, weight-control facts/fads, occult practices, holistic hodgepodge, prominent promoters, why quackery persists, what can be done, and more. Edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and William T. Jarvis, Ph.D. Foreword by Ann Landers. Hardcover, 544 pages, $30. (Canada $31.00)

    “Reports on the author’s investigations of macrobiotics, Edgar Cayce, Anthroposophic medicine, multilevel marketing (Km and Nature’s Sunshine), mail-order nutrition, chiropractic nutrition, naturopathy, “complementary” and “alternative” medicine, Gerson diet, Natural Hygiene, Ayurvedic medicine, nutripathy, and schools offering dubious credentials. By Jack Raso, M.S., R.D. Edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D. Hardcover, 300 pages, $29.

    “A treasure-trove of information on scores of dubious products and practices. Covers leading “diet gurus and “experts to be wary of,” talk-show quackery, chiropractic, acupuncture, naturopathy, Ayurveda, multilevel marketers, and scores of modern “snake-oil” products. By antiquackery activist Kurt Butler. Edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D. Softcover, 310 pages, $20.

    “Hard-hitting exposé by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and the editors of Consumer Reports Books. Covers arthritis quackery, dubious cancer therapy, fringe medicine, fad diagnoses, chiropractic, mercury-amalgam scam, weight control frauds, real vs. bogus allergies, many other rip-offs, and 38 tips on how to avoid being quacked. Out-of-print. Supply limited. Softcover, 250 pages, $14.”

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    It would be nice if someone could provide a URL leading directly to this information.

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

  • Logan

    Okay, I have to step in here in defense of chiro. Call it a personal bias (my father is a chiropractor), but I think chiropractic gets a bad rap based on the wild ideas of the “straight” crowd. My dad does two things that I feel give his practice more legitimacy than the quacks – he only recommends his treatments for orthopedic purposes, and he doesn’t limit himself to the spine (he once adjusted my wrist after I took a hard fall on it).

    And what the hell is the deal with refusal to address chiropractors by the term “doctor”? It’s an academic distinction, not a medical one. In a few years, I intend to pursue a Ph.D. in Literary and Cultural Studies. When I complete it, would anyone consider not calling me Dr. Logan simply on the basis that I don’t have a medical degree?

  • http://mehbooks.wordpress.com/ Bissrok

    If they want us to call them a “Doctor of Chiropractic” without an MD, they’re gonna need to call me a “Doctor of Awesome”.

  • http://custador.wordpress.com/ custador

    Actually, medical doctors are also not doctors. It’s an honorific; they don’t actually hold a doctorate – so chiropractors are doing the exact same thing that they do. The worst one I know of is Gillian McKeith, who is a dietician who calls herself “doctor” for no good reason and no bad one either. She’s also a heinous bitch with a poo fixation.

  • http://fitprosarah.wordpress.com fitprosarah

    I have worked for 2 chiroquacktors in the past…scary stuff…I was basically brainwashed to lie to patients…most of them deserve to be shut down. :(

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    Not enough said. Those are only the first two. Keep reading.

    And it DOES matter that it was started by a quack and perpetuated by a fraud. Doesn’t it matter that scientology was started by a mental case? It doesn’t guarantee it is wrong, of course, but it should be a warning flag.

  • dr.R.

    A quack is a quack.

    Enough said.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    True, but Palmer had a special meaning for it — at least that’s my understanding. That is why the concept is rejected by mainstream doctors.

  • http://custador.wordpress.com/ custador

    “Sublocation” is a legitimate medical term meaning a partial dislocation, but I’ve never heard of a “subluxation” (I’m a student nurse, by the way). Could be a US/UK difference.

  • LRA

    Dr. Bissrok, DA


  • Reginald Selkirk

    My niece fell off a trampoline. My sister took her to an M.D. who took X-rays and made sure that the spinal cord was not damaged, and no vertebrae were broken. (I’m guessing a bit here, I didn’t actually see the X-rays and was not involved in the diagnosis.) But the M.D. didn’t actually “do” anything, did not prescribe any treatment. I presume there was nothing to be done, and that sprains take time to heal.

    My sister was not satisfied, and so took the girl to a chiropractor. I guess the back-cracking was more psychologically fulfilling for my sister than doing nothing but wait. Also, the chiropractor diagnosed my niece with one leg longer than the other.

    Marley, you say “I don’t see anything wrong with a good back-cracking every now and then” but that certainly does not apply to the neck-cracking technique mentioned by Mr. Florien, which has caused numerous injuries, including fatalities.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    Yeah, Canada trends politically about five years behind the US. Our equivalent of Bushco is hopefully well into its sunset months.

  • http://custador.wordpress.com/ custador

    I don’t think L. Ron Hubbard was a mental case per se, but sonce he is on record as saying “If you want to get rich, start a religion” a few years before he fouded scientology (which is based on his own science fiction writings, by the way), I think he was a total con artist.

  • Robert Johnston

    Actually, that means that the first two aren’t examples of the ad hominem fallacy either. Ad hominem arguments are those that make a personal attack that’s irrelevant to the substantive point being argued. Relevant personal attacks are not ad hominem.

    Clearly the fact that chiropractic was created without any concern at all for its validity as a therapy allows one to validly draw conclusions about the validity of that therapy. Those conclusions could, of course, be refuted by evidence that chiropractic actually works, but there is no such evidence, and in any event all conclusions could be refuted by evidence that they’re wrong. There is absolutely no evidence that chiropractic works any better than any other method of minimally risky lower back manipulation as a treatment for any condition.

  • http://www.vidlord.com VidLord

    wierd. A chiropractor really helped me. Guess it just depends on who you are but at least in my case it really did help. Especially when she cracked my neck. Hey Daniel have you ever even been to one? You might be surprised. In my experience my chiropractor was a really cool lady that was in no way a quack.

  • Siveambrai

    I suffered from some serious back pain as well and chiro helped with it. However, I have begun stretching out how often I will attend once I did some research (and started exercising more) and haven’t had many problems.

    The guys I go to are pretty cool but I’m beginning to see more and more crazy sneak in to their office. Last time I was there they had a whole bunch of anti-vacc pamphlets on the counter. I let them know that the pamphlets weren’t true but I don’t see it making much of a difference.

  • Tom C

    ‘Subluxation’ is definitely used in legitimate (American) medicine. I assume (but don’t know for sure) that it is in GBR as well. It’s such a common term that a British (or British-trained) doc would at least not be confused by the use of the term.

    (Tom C = US MD)

  • Viridid

    Ack, Gillian McKeith is horrific. That woman is such a fraud. Although I believe that she is no longer allowed to call herself a Doctor to advertise her stuff, or to put PhD after her name on any of her books – in part due to the fine efforts of Ben Goldacre from Bad Science; and the good people at the ASA of course.

  • dr.R.

    Well, you should never trust people just because they put “Dr” before their name ;-)

  • Viridid

    Oh, I should have mentioned. She’s a nutritionist, not a dietician. In order to be called a dietician in the UK you actually have to be qualified in some way, but anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. I’m pretty sure that’s true, anyway, although I could be wrong.

  • Viridid

    There’s an NHS homeopathic ‘hospital’ near where I study in Bristol. Makes me rather angry whenever I pass it, because it’s a nice modern building, pretty large and very plush. Space and money that could have been given to a daycare for single parents, or a centre for the elderly, or a walk in clinic, or a sexual health centre, or…well, you get the picture. Could have been something really useful for the people in the area, that’s what I mean.

  • http://xymarmadukeexplained.blogspot.com/ xy

    you had some crappy doctors if all they did was give you drugs.

    in my experience, chiropractics is just homeopathy in a lab coat. it claims to heal all ailments in one visit and with no work from the patient. there is no doubt that physical therapy is helpful, in some cases more so than drugs, but most larger clinics and hospitals have a physical therapy department so there is no need to visit “dr.”magoo whose “office” is his living room.

  • http://karlylarson.com karly

    It seems to me that Chiropractic is very much like dentistry this way. I have a few friends that are currently in dental school and they seem to have a very wide ranging medical education. In fact, one friend will go on (with additional schooling) to do dentistry and facial surgeries, but he won’t technicly be a doctor.

    I think the problem here is that Palmer may have stumbled upon the base to a legitimate treatment, but then took it down the greedy bastard route.

  • absinthemisia

    yup i agree with the ‘poor training’ part – and it can happen in any part of the world. even some medical doctors can be poorly trained.

    your friend in SA will be a MD + DC: which is the ideal case because she will be a qualified medical doctor with a chiropractic degree. What the article is warning us against, are those chiropractors without MD degrees (and without the relevant training), but give the public the impression that they have medical knowledge.


  • mstria

    I lost so much respect for the clinic I went to that day. And it wasn’t a little backwater dr office either. It’s the biggest clinic and hospital in our whole state with an extensive physical therapy department and recently added pain clinic.
    I did have an MRI at the clinic to make sure there was no damage. I was told it was just a muscle problem. If anyone has had a sprain, it’s much more than “just a muscle problem” Why the “specialist” saw no reason to do more than drug me up I have no idea. I think some doctors just rely on drugs to take over when they can’t find a specific problem.
    Health care comes down to one simple thing: The quality of the health care provider you get. My dad had a quack with a Chiro name badge. I had a quack with a Dr name badge.

  • http://karlylarson.com karly

    I see a chiropractor from time to time, and I am not sure where I would catagorize her. The way that she explained it to me is that when you have a sublaxation (not just in your spine, any of your bones can be out of place) it can put pressure on nerves in the area, blocking it’s ability to send electical signals to your brain. I wouldn’t say that the concept is rejected by all mainstream doctors.

    My mom is a physical therapist (not an MD, but a medical professional with a full background in anatomy, physiology) and they often work with chiropractic patients, and even sees a chiro herself, from time to time. She has told me that the issues arise when the chiropractor does nothing but crack your bones, with out prescribing stretches and/or exercises. With out excercising and increasing muscle tone, ones joints can become hyper mobile, which is likely to cause further injury.

    Yes there is a lot of woo out there, but that is true for chiropractic, massage, nutrition, and even general medicine. Our system is set up in away that has highly politicized medical treatment to the detriment of the patient. Sarah Robisnson’s (via Orcinus) battle with Lyme disease is a great example of that.


    At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, we have to face that we live in a world where seeking medical care, and even eating, is a political act. As with anything I don’t think it is about completely eschewing certain areas of treatment (except homeopathy … that’s bullshit), but about doing the leg work and finding the right professional (doctor in this case).

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    Of course it helps some people. I’m not denying that. Snake oil helps some people. Blood letting helps some people. Acupuncture helps some people. Etc. But that doesn’t mean they are effective or that they were behind why a person recovered.

    I’m basing the above on clinical trials — we can’t trust anecdotes and individual cases. We have to look at the data. And so far, the data says chiropractic therapy is only effective for back problems, but it’s more risky and expensive than conventional treatments.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    Well it’s about time you found something to disagree with me on! ;)

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I didn’t have the time to pour into research on this, that I would have liked to before commenting, but suffice to say, that while many medical procedures that exist today can be traced back at least to ancient Egypt, I am willing to guesstimate that those procedures are more “medicine man” than Doogie Houser, and are also likely steeped in religion like many other healers.

    False dichotomy. Criticism of portions of “standard” medicine does nothing to prove the safety or efficacy of chiropractic.

    A couple years ago, a controlled study was done on a type of knee surgery. To the surprise of everyone, including the surgeon who did the study, the technique was shown not to be effective. The study will be reviewed carefully, it may be replicated, and then if the study stands up, fewer of those procedures will be done.

    Meanwhile, chiropractic does not often subject its techniques to controlled studies, and when studies show it to be no more effective than placebo, those techniques are not discontinued. Instead, we hear lame New-Agey excuses about treating the patient, not the disease, and how each patient’s situation is different, etc.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    I have no inherent problem with chiropractic therapy — unfortunately, in trials it just isn’t any better than conventional medicine, and it has more risks.

    However, if it can be shown that it indeed is better than conventional medicine and has less risks, than I’m all for it. But that has not been the case.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    Newton’s involvement with the the occult movements that were popular when he was alive merely show that he was a child of his time.

    His mathematical codification of celestial mechanics was a magnificent achievement, but it was much easier then than it is now to believe that planetary movements were no more significant than billiard games and that occult forces really controlled the ultimate nature of reality.

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    That’s because chiropractors didn’t exist yet, silly. And guess what showed doctors they were wrong about bloodletting? The clinical trial. Which is what my opinion is based on.

  • http://fitprosarah.wordpress.com fitprosarah

    Scary stuff…the last chiro I worked for adjusted his newborn straight out of the womb…

    same ‘quacktor refused to let the child be immunized…the child was sickly and allergic to everything…

    I wanted so badly to ask him “so how come his regular adjustments haven’t cured his allergies?”


  • http://fitprosarah.wordpress.com fitprosarah

    Wow…okay, so the cattle farm I worked for wasn’t a money making machine? Bring in patient X, put her in traction for 5 minutes, hustle over and rub patient Y’s neck, greet patient Z, hustle back over and x-ray patient B, then greet 5 more patients while shuffling everyone through this assembly line? That’s “bedside manner?”


    So the “weekend workshop” this wonderful “doctor” paid for me to go to with he and his wife in Arizona was honorable? Being told to double bill and that if you take a patient to the back and have them sit on a stability ball for 5 minutes, you should bill out for that shit?


    Sounds like reaaaaaaaaaaaaaally effective medicine to me.

    More like a “oh sh*t, I have several hundred thousand dollars in student loans i’ll probably never pay off…better resort to unethical practices!”

    Chiros are known to default on their student loans. Take that one to the bank.

    Crack your back, guess your weight! Step right up and let Carney Chiropractor rip you off!

  • http://taramokhtari.tripod.com taramokhtari

    Agreed, RJ.

    The intent and motivation of the founder, as posited in this article, together with the apparent flaws in scientific reason and lack of structured research by the founder and his son all contribute to the validity of the argument against chiropractics.

    They might have been really friendly guys, that’s not up for discussion – it’s their questionable professional practice that is under scrutiny here.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    Daniel, what you are describing here is very much like the placebo effect.

    Harleigh [Kyson Jr]

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    An excellent site on quack medicine is http://www.quackwatch.com.

    Here’s the beginning of their article on homeopathy:

    Homeopathy: The Ultimate Fake

    Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a German physician, began formulating homeopathy’s basic principles in the late 1700s. Hahnemann was justifiably distressed about bloodletting, leeching, purging, and other medical procedures of his day that did far more harm than good. Thinking that these treatments were intended to “balance the body’s ‘humors’ by opposite effects,” he developed his “law of similars”—a notion that symptoms of disease can be cured by extremely small amounts of substances that produce similar symptoms in healthy people when administered in large amounts. The word “homeopathy” is derived from the Greek words homoios (similar) and pathos (suffering or disease).

    Because homeopathic remedies were actually less dangerous than those of nineteenth-century medical orthodoxy, many medical practitioners began using them. At the turn of the twentieth century, homeopathy had about 14,000 practitioners and 22 schools in the United States.

    But as medical science and medical education advanced, homeopathy declined sharply in America, where its schools either closed or converted to modern methods. The last pure homeopathic school in this country closed during the 1920s .

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    It is important to remember that just because you can coin a new word, you are not necessarily creating a new reality.

    For my own amusement, I once made up a quack medical system myself called psychistic medicine.

    Psychistic medicine teaches that the ultimate units of matter are negative and positive psychomagnetic ions, which can be viewed in a person’s aura with a psychistometer or a psychistoscope, which provides a more detailed view of the aura than a simple psychistometer.

    All illnesses are caused by an imbalance of negative and positive psychomagnetic ions in different parts of an aura. Serious illnesses, of course, are caused by psychomagnetic storms. In really grave illnesses, these storms cross different auric boundries. When they contaminate at least 75% of a person’s aura, unfortunately, the result is death.

    I don’t want to go into the specifics of psychistic systems of therapy, lest some people take them seriously and start practicing them on themselves and other people who should seek conventional medical treatment.

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    Hmm, maybe I should open up a school of psychistic medicine, but it would take me too long to write enough materials on the structure of the aura and catalogue the different types of psychomagnetic storms and the various combinations of electrical treatment modalities required to neutralize them.

    (Naturally, if I opened such a school, I would have to require my prospective students to have a degree in electrical engineering before they matriculated so that they could learn to wire the walls of therapeutic chambers properly and do the research necessary for modifying their wiring systems with their associated electrical controls as new types of psychomagnetic storms are discovered.

    (In time this would become a world-class university-research program on the post-doctoral level as we developed computerized treatment protocols that compensated for rapidly shifting psychomagnetic storms.)

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    I entered the term “chiropractic” in the search engine of http://www.quackwatch.com and found a series of texts on chiropractic. Here is part of one of them:

    “I became interested [in chiropractic] while teaching health and physical education at a boarding school. As a gymnastics coach, I had noted that manipulative therapy seemed to help certain athletic injuries. In time, a neighborhood chiropractor began indoctrinating me.

    “Although I had a master’s degree in health education, my coursework had never covered chiropractic. I began reading everything I could find on the subject. The health-education literature was highly critical of chiropractic, but my mentor attributed this to prejudice.

    “So I explored chiropractic literature to see what chiropractors said about themselves. What I saw convinced me that chiropractic was a cult whose participants were often victimized by their own misguided philosophy and training.

    “My doctoral dissertation, completed during the early 1970s, was based on a study assisted by nineteen chiropractors. My close association with these practitioners persuaded me that they were basically honest, hard-working, well-meaning individuals who believed that their treatment was effective even though no scientific studies had tested this belief.

    “One of the chiropractors even acknowledged that the trouble with chiropractic was that it had never been proven scientifically. “What I do is treat patients the way I was taught,” he said candidly. “Those who like it come back, those who don’t like it do not. Enough people come back to keep me busy, so I must be helping them.”

    “Many of these chiropractors proudly told me about patients who were almost miraculously relieved of their pain and dysfunction. When I asked whether they could tell which patients or conditions were likely to respond to their methods, all said they could not.

    “How sad, I thought, that chiropractors had practiced for seventy-five years without determining what they can effectively do. Although nearly twenty-five more years have passed since that thought first occurred to me, chiropractic has still not made a single noteworthy contribution to the scientific knowledge of health care.”

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    My first sentence in the above post should read “A good site for informing yourself about medical quackery is http://www.quackwatch.com.”

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    As for the neck cracking deaths, those are rare!!

    I’m sure that will be solace to the families of victims.

    Do you not fly because of the rare plane crashes you hear about on the news (you never hear about the millions of flights that land safely).

    Air travel has the demonstrable benefit of getting you some place you want to go, so it is a legitimate risk/benefit trade-off. What are the demonstrable benefits of neck-cracking? Like the rest of chiropractic, it has never proven to be more effective than placebo in controlled clinical trials.

  • http://xyblogofstuff.blogspot.com/ xy

    this is the unfortunate truth of medicine today.

  • Sara

    Your name is apt.

  • http://taooftrav.blogspot.com/ SagaciousT

    That’s not fair either. Taking a sugar pill could be called effective…if it’s desired effect was psychological. Just because it’s only effective to some, doesn’t mean it’s ineffective either. There is a reason that placebos exist. Of course I’ll submit to the fact that cracking ones neck is more dangerous than a sugar pill (unless their diabetic, lol), but it’s your reasoning/logic I’m questioning this time. What this all seems to biol down to is that we need to submit chiro to more clinical trials. And something tells me than in an effort to substantiate chiro practices & procedure, that it as a whole, will submit to further scrutiny in the future.

    At least I hope…

  • Annie

    Have you ever read any of the research? It doesn’t sound like you have? So what is the proof of fundamental Christianity>

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    Sounds like you got duped, Annie. Welcome to the club — except it happened to me with Christianity. It’s hard to admit it though, and with the amount of money you make from it, I expect it will be nearly impossible. Good luck, though!

  • LRA

    Annie- you claim that you took courses on par with an MD? (You are stating that you are a chiropractor, then?)

    I’m curious to know… did you take neurology courses? How about immunology? How about virology? How about genetics?
    How about biochemistry? How about oncology?

    If you took any of these courses, you would know that manipulating the spine does nothing to make people well unless they have neck or back problems. Period.

    Case in point: cancer is a genetic disorder in which cell cycle regulation goes haywire. How exactly does rubbing someone’s back alter their genetic code?

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    An interesting point. A couple of hundred years ago, doctors were still advocating trepanning for kleptomania. Or maybe not, I’m exaggerating to make a point, that chiro may be making its way from woo to something more useful.

    This would explain the range of experiences narrated here, the odd accidental death, and the fact that my second chiropractor kept trying to sell me “chelation.” Which seemed to me to have little to do with shoulder pain. However, he claimed it cured pretty much everything.

    Once I found out precisely what chelation was, I figured that if anyone had done it to me, I’d have reported feeling much better immediately, for the same reason castor oil cures just about anything in children.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    I myself would feel outrageously deceived if any physician treated a medical complaint of mine with a placebo.

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.

  • http://hkyson.wordpress.com hkyson

    In another thread on this site, titled “The Dog Delusion,” I said that evidence from biology and physical anthropology has established that we as a species have been on this planet for around 100,000, perhaps even 200,000 years. I then noted that the original writings of the bible go back only about 2,000 years.

    I then asked how mankind was able to survive without the services of Moses and Christ for the tens of thousands of years before these two guys appeared on this planet and showed us how we were born into original sin and and how we could be saved from it through the grace of their deity, who in the old testament is portrayed as a petty and sadistic son of a bitch.

    (In my initial survey course on the history of western civilization during my freshman year at the University of Southern California in 1956, we were told how Ikhnaton, an Egyptian pharaoh, made fundamental progress in the development of religion by coming up with the concept of monotheism, as if it were not equally superstitious to believe in one god as it is to believe in a pantheon of them.

    (This demonstrates the hidden religious bias and the ethnocentrism in much of our traditional humanities curriculum, which now has been reduced because of the student rebellion that began at Stanford University not all that many years ago.)

    Vive les étudiants de Stanford! Vive leur rebellion!

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.