Do you think chiropractic treatment is quackery?

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Discussion by: matt1162

I've read many people sharing their ideas that chiropractic care is quackery. I am a former competition weightlifter and have been to a chiropractor many times with mixed results. Usually the chiropractor's assistant would come in and massage my back with something like Icy Hot or Ben Gay. Then the chiropractor would come in and pop my spine from top to bottom. Sometimes I felt relief instantly while other times it took a few hours for the relief to set in. The problem was that after a couple of days my spine would start hurting again just as bad as it did before. Then I would have to keep going back to the chiropractor every couple of days (costing $$$). However, conventional medicine won't do anything for me except prescribe dangerous prescription pain pills that contain opium derivitives which do kill the pain but they are also heavily addictive and can cause liver damage. They have done an MRI on my back and it showed that I have osteoarthritis in my spine. Let me know what you think about chiropractic care. I'd like to hear from skeptics. I'm also in the USA where there are thousands of chirpractic practitioners.

48 COMMENTS

  1. I have a herniated disk in my lower back – the disk is completely out. I found relief after visiting a Chiropractor but I now think it’s all baloney. If I get spasms in my back muscles the pain is excruciating and I sometimes need medication. however, if I have a good hot shower first thing in the morning and treat my back with respect I can go for months with no pain. If sure a bit of TLC always helps. Perhaps it was the heat and massage that gave you the benefit and the rest was just woo. I am sure there are many sincere Chiropractors but there are many sincere priests too!

  2. Chiropractic operates under the premise that almost all illnesses are caused by “subluxations” in the spine. It is pure pseudoscience. It may be that some chiropractors offer fairly conventional physio for muscular and skeletal injuries. But then again they might be full bore woomeisters who administer chiro, acupuncture, ear candling and all the rest. Since spinal manipulation is largely unnecessary you could be injured by the treatment, or harmed by receiving the wrong treatment for a potentially serious underlying condition.

    So why take the risk? Any doctor could recommend a good physiotherapist who unlike chiro are health workers who would be able to deal with a range of injuries and conditions and would be properly trained to do so.

  3. The difference between science and quackery is the theory behind the process.

    It may be that chiropractic treatment or at least some of it, may provide legitimate pain relief or even treat certain musculoskeletal problems, but if it’s for the wrong reasons, or if it’s merely placebo, it’s quackery.

    Like acupuncture. We now have reason to believe there is a legitimate process in which acupuncture can provide pain relief. However, for centuries Chinese medicine has utilized acupuncture in order to control and divert the flow of Chi in order to treat a myriad of illnesses. Chi of course being complete nonsense, meaning it cannot treat all the illnesses it claims to.
    So acupuncture may have it’s uses, but it’s still quackery for the most part. So when someone you know says they’re having acupuncture, make sure they know why they’re having it.
    Likewise, if someone you know says they go to a homeopath, make sure they’re only going there for some posh tap water and not to treat an actual medical problem.

    In your case, any claim that chiropractic treatment can treat spinal arthrosis is complete bunk. As I’m sure your doctor told you, Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition, which likely wasn’t helped by your history of weight lifting and if you’re overweight now losing some would alleviate the symptoms. Exercise is also important to keep your spine flexible, swimming would be the best choice.

    The massage the chiropractor’s assistant gave you may have had an effect, both massage and hot or cold compresses placed on the area have had demonstrable effects on spinal OA. If you had any real relief from your treatments it was likely down to this massage, and not the popping of your spine.

    Paracetemol and NSAIDs (i.e. Ibuprofen) are the most effective painkillers for OA. NSAIDs can have digestive and renal complications, but they along with Paracetamol are not addictive. It sounds like over the counter stuff wouldn’t be strong enough considering you’ve been prescribed narcotics, so check back with your doctor about getting higher dose paracetemol or such. Besides that there could be steroid injections into the joints for more long term pain relief, if your doctors think it’s appropriate, which would have you returning for repeat injections every few weeks or months depending on the results. I would say this would also be considerably cheaper than going to the chiropractors (as well as actually being beneficial) but as you’re in the US I wouldn’t want to make any claims, you have the most expensive and inefficient healthcare system in the world.

  4. All these “alternatives” to scientific/medicin based healing are in my opinion not useless. I do not believe in many of those – so it would not support me. But I see many people who simply feel better (for whatever reason) – And it’s fair enough to let them feeling better. As long as it doesn’t additional harm them or keep them away from validated ways to recover…

  5. In the UK Chiropractic has been in the news a lot of liate, thanks to an article in the Guardian by Simon Singh. The British Chirpractic Association decided to sue for libel while at the same time instructing its members to remove certain promises from their websites.

    The upshot was we all got a lot more insight into the claims and realities of the practice, and how easy it was to sue for libel in the UK even when a journalist publishes nothing but cold hard facts. A campaign was launched, which many on here, including myself took part in to get the libel laws changed in the UK which has ultimately resulted in improvements so scientists are less scared of publishing the truth as it’s hard ot get extra funding to pay off all the cry babies who get caught out.

    I’d suggest googling the details, it’s a long story so won’t pick details myself.

    I’d say it might be worth visiting a masseuse and seeing how you feel afterwards (obviously explaining you have an ingury so to be careful). It might be that a bit of kneeding and increased blood-flow is all you need to feel better in the short term but there is no scientific reason that chiropractic is of any benefit. They do make people feel better but so do many placebos.

    You mention opium based drugs, well like religion chiropracters offer a fix for now. I hear so often from people who swear by them things like “my chiropracter reaaly sorts me out” yet they go back so I often respond that my drug dealer really sorts me out, doesn’t mean it’s money well spent.

    Pain management is becoming a science in itself though so do some research, you may find there are alternatives to opium based drugs that are worth looking into. If you’re forking out every few days anyway I’d say you’ve nothing to lose. I believe medical marijuana is available in some states, maybe look into that?

  6. Yes, dangerous quackery.

    With a bit of practise you can learn to click your own back much more safely.

  7. Then the chiropractor would come in and pop my spine from top to bottom. Sometimes I felt relief instantly while other times it took a few hours for the relief to set in. The problem was that after a couple of days my spine would start hurting again just as bad as it did before.

    Sounds like you need good physical therapy instead. It is important to be properly aligned, but also strengthen these areas. I might suggest a good yoga instructor after you start PT. I had one that emphasized proper alignment/posture and would spend about a half hour talking about how to focus in your muscles/posture in each area of your body in great detail. If you get a yoga instructor that does not explain each pose in great detail find another instructor. The year I did yoga, I felt very little pain and I have osteoarthritis all along my spine along with a herniated cervical disk. If you are spending so much time pumping your muscles maybe you need to start doing stretching exercises.

  8. To repy to comment No. 2 where mjr stated that there are sincere priests as well sincere chiropractors: Some years ago I heard a talk by a non-doctor speaker from the American Medical Association on the subject of quackery. Quite a bit of it was about chiropractic. I asked him if there were chiropractors who actually thought they were doing good. He thought a moment and replied that he’d estimate that ten percent of them did believe in what they were doing, the rest being just phoney. Also–isn’t a lot of what they do just a good massage? A massage feels good when anyone does it.

  9. In reply to #9 by 78rpm:

    Also–isn’t a lot of what they do just a good massage? A massage feels good when anyone does it.

    Judging by matt1162’s account, that the chiropractor’s assistant first massages him, then the chiropractor ‘pops his spine’. I can’t help but feel that this is a devious way to obfuscate the actual treatment being nothing but placebo. (if that)

    The patient actually feels better from the massage, but attributes the relief to the chiropractic.

    Seems like a down right scam, rather than just ‘alternative medicine’.

  10. In reply to #9 by 78rpm:

    He thought a moment and replied that he’d estimate that ten percent of them did believe in what they were doing, the rest being just phoney.

    I would bet the number is far larger, close to 100% actually believe what they are doing is helpful. Read the Robert Trivers book The Folly of Fools, humans inevitably tend to believe things it is in our self interest to believe. If I believe I’m a fake at something it inevitably makes me less capable of selling that thing to others and it makes me feel as if I’m a phony and a cheat. Except for sociopaths who wouldn’t care people don’t enjoy thinking of themselves that way and they will believe their own rationalizations to an amazing extent.

  11. A couple of years back I had a herniated disc with associated sciatica. I first went to a chiropractor, I’m not sure why. He started doing all sorts of fancy treatments using lasers and pressure points. He would ask me to rotate my foot with me fighting against it and say he found a weakness, use a laser in my abdomen and miraculously the weakness was gone. It seemed to work, but it was based on how much pressure he was using. Being somewhat skeptical and knowing an IR laser can’t penetrate very far in tissue I had a feeling he was scamming me. Of course he wanted to sell me on a 12 week treatment that would cost $2-3k.

    I then went to a orthopedist and after an x-ray he told me it would go away on its own in 8-12 weeks and… it did! I asked him what he thought about chiros and he said they range from physical therapists to voodoo witch doctors. So the moral would be to go to a physical therapist. I did have therapeutic massages and they did help temporarily with the symptoms until my body could heal itself. What I found funny is that the chiro wanted to sell me a course treatment that would last as long as my symptoms would naturally.

  12. Chiropractic is a form of physiotherapy based on almost nothing whatsoever.
    Suing Singh resulted in negative publicity for these Chiroquacks!

  13. Let me know what you think about chiropractic care. I’d like to hear from skeptics. I’m also in the USA where there are thousands of chirpractic practitioners.

    Some of them use physiotherapy, but you would be better going to a qualified physiotherapist. Traction, and manipulation, can free up inflamed joints or trapped nerves, but there are serious risks in using unregulated quacks, some of whom MAY have some idea what they are doing!

    However, conventional medicine won’t do anything for me except prescribe dangerous prescription pain pills that contain opium derivitives which do kill the pain but they are also heavily addictive and can cause liver damage.

    I would suggest you see a doctor for some anti-inflammatory medication, or further treatment, but as a self treatment, a good soak in a hot bath will probably do as much good for temporary relief as a chiropractor.

  14. To echo most above I believe you will receive similar or better results simply employing a good massage therapist. That said, here’s a bit of irony. I was having significant shoulder and elbow pain (I am also an avid weightlifter). I finally visited an orthopedist who took an x-ray (worthless) and concluded that there was a “possibility” that I had a torn labrum and recommended that I double up on a dose of Aleve (left unsaid was apparently this is what I would need to do until the end of time, my time anyway). Predictably this gave mild relief at best. After doing extensive reading and research I heard about a soft tissue therapy called ART (Active Release Technique). The ironic part is ART was coined and developed by a chiro. Of course it’s also similar to myofascial release and certainly there have been other similar therapies. The literature I read said that I should get a licensed ART provider. Well, the closest one in my area was a massage therapist. I went in highly skeptical. The therapist was actually a staff therapist for several professional sports franchises so I knew at least that he could work with bigger guys and/or athletes.

    Long story shorter I gained great relief after my first session. In fact if I were religious, which I’m not, I would describe the moment that I finally, after years started feeling relief (albeit the therapy itself was quite uncomfortable) as a religious experience. As an agnostic with provisional deist leanings this is as close as I’ve ever gotten to a eureka moment. Of course I then thought the relief would only last a few hours or a few days. To my surprise it lasted for months and now I just get occasional tune ups – about 2 per year. So now I’m a believer. In this therapy at least, haha. At any rate here are a couple of legitimate studies to buttress my blather. Good luck with your treatment:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647071/

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16584948

  15. It is a complex question because cracking your back can alleviate some types of suffering. However, that is the extent of it. The chiropractor who claims that cracking your back can cure diptheria or colic in babies by manipulation of your energy flow is full of shit and practicing pseudo science.

  16. In reply to #2 by mjr:

    I have a herniated disk in my lower back – the disk is completely out. I found relief after visiting a Chiropractor but I now think it’s all baloney.

    Manipulation and traction can give temporary relief, or allow part of a slightly damaged disc to be manipulated back into position.

    If I get spasms in my back muscles the pain is excruciating and I sometimes need medication. however, if I have a good hot shower first thing in the morning and treat my back with respect I can go for months with no pain.

    I had a damaged disc following a car accident. I eventually had it surgically removed back in the 1970s and have been more or less OK since without needing any medication, – providing I don’t adopt any silly postures for lifting anything. Modern procedures are safer, quicker and more reliable.

    If you want some reading on the subject, this book is a classic! http://www.alibris.co.uk/Slipped-Disc-James-H-Cyriax/book/6132039

  17. Chiropractors in Canada are quite different from the USA. Chiropractors in Canada are quite respectable. They take Xrays, then loosen vertebral joints. They realign bones. They can relieve excruciating pain in minutes. You can go in barely able to walk and come out able to walk normally. There is nothing as dramatic in ordinary medicine.

    In the USA Chiropractors are involved in all manner of woo as well.

    The proof is in the pudding. The treatment apparently works. The problem is the cost. The best ordinary medicine can offer is anti-inflammatory pain killers which have nasty side effects.

    If I were in your position, I would go, but only when the pain were unbearable.

    The main thing I do now is never to sleep on a bed. I curl up on a small couch. My problem is discs worn out. I discovered this odd treatment by accident.

  18. I have used a chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists to treat my back.

    The problem I found with chiropractors and osteopaths is that they may very well give you a good treatment where they ease any tightness and realign you, but the treatment ends the moment you walk out the door. They do little or nothing to correct the underlying problems that bring you there in the first place. That’s why you have to keep going back to them for maintenance.

    A good physiotherapist (I think you call them physical therapists in USA) will not only do just as good a job as the chiropractor or osteopath in the treatment room, but they’ll also show you the strengthening and stretching exercises you need to do on a regular basis to overcome the underlying problems, or at least minimise them. Of course, depending on your particular condition, there may be limitations to what can be achieved, but you need to do everything you can on a daily basis to keep your back in as good a condition as possible.

  19. In reply to #18 by Roedy:
    >

    The main thing I do now is never to sleep on a bed. I curl up on a small couch. My problem is discs worn out. I discovered this odd treatment by accident.

    Anyone with back trouble should have a sufficiently firm mattress and a board under it so it cannot sag. Pillows should also give proper support without raising the head too high, to keep the back straight when sleeping. Experiments may be needed to keep the body supported and comfortable. Chairs should also be chosen to give support to the small of the back.

  20. Hi matt1162,

    I’m not aware of a universal definition for what chiropractic is (some DCs reject chiropractic subluxation theory for instance). On the other hand, I don’t think one could make a compelling claim that there are no universally accepted definitions for biochemistry, physics and logic and so forth.

    Ambiguity seems to be friendly, or even welcome for certain environments; chiropractic being one of them. With over a century in existence now, the evidence for the efficacy of any chiropractic treatment being directly attributable to the practice of chiropractic is relatively scant. And I don’t see another century (or five) being just the thing needed to reverse that historical fact. When chiropractic professional organizations are on record for not embracing randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, one should rightly wonder if dispelling ambiguity is even a goal within chiropractic.

    Parodying Winston Churchill about democracy, I will say that science-based medicine may be the worst method to accomplish healing but it’s better than all others that have been tried. It seems to me you have a choice of environments in which to live. Choose your dumbbells wisely. :-j

    Mike

  21. As an MD, my problem with chiropractors isn’t that they provide “relief” for back pain. My problem is they claim to be able to “treat everything” from runny noses and sore throats to liver cancer by manipulating the spine.

  22. I have deforming spondyloarthritis and it some time takes half an hour to get out of the bed, but then I do my exercises and the the world starts looking much better. I do not know whether you have any physiotheraphy groups, but I suggest you should find one and do not run away just because the exercise will seem ridiculously easy for you! Because a decent physiotherapist knows that a human being is not just a backbone with some appendages attached! He or she will make you to exercise and strech all significant muscles. No weight lifting or, even more, chyropractor can do anything close to that.

  23. In reply to #2 by mjr:

    I have a herniated disk in my lower back – the disk is completely out. I found relief after visiting a Chiropractor but I now think it’s all baloney. If I get spasms in my back muscles the pain is excruciating and I sometimes need medication. however, if I have a good hot shower first thing in th…

    I have three herniated disks and before I started physiotherapy I had violent spasms that lasted for days. The specialist told me it was because of weak muscles. I did not believe, but after I gained some, that help to stabilyse back, lift up heavy things the right way, go up the stairs in a normal and not duck’s fashion…

  24. In reply to #3 by locka:

    Chiropractic operates under the premise that almost all illnesses are caused by “subluxations” in the spine. It is pure pseudoscience. It may be that some chiropractors offer fairly conventional physio for muscular and skeletal injuries.

    I agree totally. Many “alternative” therapies are helpful in limited areas; it´s when they start claiming to be panaceas that they and credibility part company. I must admit here that I have never consulted a chiropractor. However, a few years ago I was suffering back pain so bad that I could hardly get up out of a chair. After a session with an acupuncturist near my workplace I walked away almost free from pain, and the relief lasted two or three days. What the treatment couldn´t do, however, was fix the displaced disk that was causing the pain in the first place. It took several sessions with a physio to manipulate it back into place.

  25. I was a total skeptic about chiro but was persuaded to try it after spending 4 hours in hospital being X-rayed only to be assured there was nothing wrong with my spine. A recommended chiro took a complete set of X-rays and marked each up with the spinal faults I had; these were- tilted pelvis due to unequal leg lengths; undersized L5 vertebra; 3 neck vertebra incompletely fused; slight arthritis in thoracic area. Good news was my discs were excellent for my age (60).

    After some 3 months of regular adjustments the pain relief was almost 100% and my posture much improved. Since then I have needed only occasional treatments for maintenance. SO…. not woo, for me. However I will say others I tried have varied from fair to terrible, one guy even hurting me quite badly. Additionally I don’t allow any neck treatment as I believe it is potentially dangerous.

    Those who dismiss it all as woo, not having had personal experience would do well to reconsider. Not all chiros make claims about illness arising from subluxations, by the way.

  26. Fritz,
    Two things. One over the course of three months, are you sure that it would not have resolved on it’s own?

    And, two, like you, I have found relief from injury (I have always played lots af basketball). The relief is almost immediate for me most times. I simply NEED my back cracked! The things that chiro works for are (IMO) real and there is a pretty clear connection between, say, relieving some pressure and giving stim and ultrasound to an inflamed muscle or a vertebra that is slightly out of alignment.

    But, many of thee chiro folks (and the schools that they attend) make outrageous, unsubstantiated claims that have no logical connection to they way disease and medicine works. They claim that their treatment will cure a baby of colic, for example. Really? HOW?

    I was playing football a few years back and was hit from behind while jumping up for a pass. My neck was injured. I went to a D.O. These folks are Doctors who also are chiro educated. I couldn’t lift my head off of my shoulder. He looked at me and said “tortecollis”… He put me on my back on a table and talked to me asking casual questions while he moved my head gently and then BAM!! He twisted one way and then the other!!! It cracked, and I was fixed! CURED!!! Right there in ten minutes time.

    In reply to #26 by Fritz:

    I was a total skeptic about chiro but was persuaded to try it after spending 4 hours in hospital being X-rayed only to be assured there was nothing wrong with my spine. A recommended chiro took a complete set of X-rays and marked each up with the spinal faults I had; these were- tilted pelvis due to…

  27. In reply to #26 by Fritz:

    Those who dismiss it all as woo, not having had personal experience would do well to reconsider. Not all chiros make claims about illness arising from subluxations, by the way.

    I think the issue that both sides in this debate miss is that something can be pseudoscience and still provide therapeutic value. Partly due to the placebo effect and partly due to the fact that many, many medical treatments aren’t fully understood scientifically yet, but if they work we use them anyway.

    Consider psychotherapy. Freudianism is pseudoscience. From the standpoint of science it’s just BS. But does that mean people can’t get benefits from going to a Freudian therapist? Absolutely not. There is solid evidence (Trivers actually has a nice summary of this in The Folly of Fools) that talking about trauma decreases the effects of the trauma. So all the theoretical mumbo jumbo about the Id and Oedipus that the therapist believes in is nonsense but the patient still gets a lot of benefit because just talking to someone can be beneficial even if that person is using Freudianism or Astrology to interpret what you say. The benefit isn’t the analysis but the act of talking. So in the same sense you may get benefit from the massage the Chiropractor does even though the ideas he has about pressure points and energy flow or whatever are totally groundless.

    Then there is the Placebo effect, something I think even many doctors don’t really appreciate. The Placebo effect is real. It’s not just that patients think they get better they actually do show measurable improvements on various metrics (pain obviously but even things like immune response can be effected in measurable ways).

    In the early days of medicine all the cures were combinations of these two effects, things that just happened to work and no one knows why and people getting better because a person who thinks they are getting treatment will heal faster than one who doesn’t.

    So I believe you when you say you got real value from a Chiropractor. I just don’t think it was due to any of the pseudoscience. It was a combination of the benefits of a good firm massage, common sense about the importance to maintain good posture when you walk and sit, and the placebo effect because you had confidence in the chiropractor.

  28. Excellent post; just excellent.

    In reply to #28 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #26 by Fritz:

    Those who dismiss it all as woo, not having had personal experience would do well to reconsider. Not all chiros make claims about illness arising from subluxations, by the way.

    I think the issue that both sides in this debate miss is that something can be pseudoscience an…

  29. In reply to #26 by Fritz:

    I was a total skeptic about chiro but was persuaded to try it after spending 4 hours in hospital being X-rayed only to be assured there was nothing wrong with my spine. A recommended chiro took a complete set of X-rays and marked each up with the spinal faults I had; these were- tilted pelvis due to unequal leg lengths; undersized L5 vertebra; 3 neck vertebra incompletely fused; slight arthritis in thoracic area. Good news was my discs were excellent for my age (60).

    While years ago Xrays until the advent of modern systems and CT scans would not detect soft tissue damage, this sounds like initially poor quality medical service by the hospital. Any bone abnormality should have been picked up and treatment prescribed.

    It sounds like the chiro you went to was a competent physiotherapist, and radiographer, who carried out proper further investigations using modern medicine!

  30. In reply to #28 by Red Dog:

    The thing is now we are starting to see how the placebo effect might work.

    Nicholas Humphrey’s health management system theory based on an account of the high energy cost of a full blown auto immune response and the expectation of an individual to be able to supply that energy when ill, looks fairly convincing to me. In the absence of suitable signals that we will be fed and cared for, our body naturally only turns our autoimmune response partly on. To turn it fully on may kill us if we don’t have the calories to support it. What are the indicators that we may be supplied the calories we need? (We’re sick. We can’t hunt or gather.) Acts of kindness, grooming, chicken soup, the triggering of our kin detectors (all sorts set them off), oxytocin, bedside manner and hocus pocus just for us, all may access that subconscious switch flipped by re-assurance, that tells our auto immune system to take it up to eleven, we can pay for it.

    If Humphrey is right and research may confirm this in the not to distant future, what does that do to hocus pocus feel good? Maybe placebo can be accessed more reliably, with formal processes.

    I’ve often thought that the moderately ill who might benefit should be offered the value of their treatment in cash as an alternative.

  31. In reply to #27 by crookedshoes:

    Fritz,
    Two things. One over the course of three months, are you sure that it would not have resolved on it’s own?

    This is an important point. From my account listed above #12 if I had gone the chiro route it would have resolved itself in the same amount of time and I would have been $2.5k poorer. Also, it seems a good physiotherapist could have pick up on Fritz’s problem and had similar results.

  32. Agreed

    In reply to #32 by Skeptic:

    In reply to #27 by crookedshoes:

    Fritz,
    Two things. One over the course of three months, are you sure that it would not have resolved on it’s own?

    This is an important point. From my account listed above #12 if I had gone the chiro route it would have resolved itself in the same amount of time a…

  33. It seems a lot of your comments are based on old information that was promulgated for years. Chiropractors do provide a service. Many sports teams, industries, governmental institutions and even the Olympics utilize us. The theories in the past are not embraced by many chiropractors in the present. Many systematic studies have included chiropractic treatment trials and have been found to be rated above many well known and accepted treatments that are “science-based”. Try this, strike your arm against a wall corner. Next thing you will probably do will be to draw it back and then rub it. Why? Because it makes it feel better. It’s a natural reaction. Many have mentioned massage as feeling good. Do you know why? Nocioceptors are pain receptors, Mechano-receptors detect movement. When you stimulate mechano-receptors they signal the brain which interferes with the pain receptor signal. When massage stops the pain returns typically unless the damage is more severe. Manipulation, what chiropractors mostly do, does not align bones. If bones were out of alignment you would probably be in the ER. What it does though is produce motion in a joint that was previously not moving in it’s normal physiological range of motion. This is usually the result of either a traumatic insult or cumulative insult rendering inflammation then scar formation that reduced the range of motion. Less range of motion equals less stimulation of mechano-receptors and the inability of the joint to reduce the inflammation of a joint by pumping mechanism. Many people think that this is the end of treatment, but that is the passive part of treatment. The thing that you must do is to capitalize on the freedom of movement which the manipulation provided and keep that motion accessible for that joint. That is the active part which the patient must participate in. That is just a little of what we do. I have great respect for physical therapist, D.O.’s, M.D.’s and acupuncturist. We all aid those in pain to the best of our abilities. I personally don’t see patients unless they are referred to me from a Primary Care Provider, Neurosurgeon, Othopedists, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitationist or Physical Therapists. I also refer to them patients that have either been incorrectly diagnosed, which happens to everyone once in awhile or I have exhausted my conservative approaches to the diagnosis. I guess in your opinions they are bad Health Providers because they interact with me for what they consider the betterment of the patient. Not all chiropractors are good, but the same can be said for all medical doctors, physical therapists or scientists for that matter. Read up on studies before you post opinions unless you don’t subscribe to what this website is all about.

  34. In reply to #1 by David W:

    There’s lots of good info on the Quackwatch website

    Personally, I would not use chiropractic; it has even killed some people.

    Care to give us some statistics? While you are at it. Include the statistics of how may die each year from mistakes in hospitals, or for that matter, how many die from NSAIDS alone each year. Those are those safer methods right? Not saying that they aren’t useful, just saying that passive treatment with pills or just being in a hospital in comparison far outkills chiropractic treatment deaths. I think there was a statistics back in the 90’s about medical mistakes ending in death equaling about the equivalent of 3 Jumbo jets a day.

  35. In reply to #15 by Steven007:

    To echo most above I believe you will receive similar or better results simply employing a good massage therapist. That said, here’s a bit of irony. I was having significant shoulder and elbow pain (I am also an avid weightlifter). I finally visited an orthopedist who took an x-ray (worthless) and c..

    About 10 years ago I was having real problems with my shoulders and after much physical therapy, cortisone injections, NSAIDs etc. I read on a powerlifting chat board about active release therapy. I was doubtful but I was desperate. I found a chiropractor in another city about 45 minutes drive one way that was certified in ART. I went for 3 treatments a week for 5 weeks with absolutely no relief. The chiropractor said that I should have an MRI done because I might have a torn rotator cuff. She acknowledged that ART could not help if there was a tear in soft tissue. Well, I went back to the orthopedic doctor and he did the MRI and guess what? Both of my rotator cuffs had partial tears. I had surgery on both of them and I got some relief but sadly I was not able to get back to 100%.

  36. In reply to #27 by crookedshoes:

    Fritz,
    Two things. One over the course of three months, are you sure that it would not have resolved on it’s own?

    And, two, like you, I have found relief from injury (I have always played lots af basketball). The relief is almost immediate for me most times. I simply NEED my back cracked! The t…

    Hi CS

    ‘over the course of three months, are you sure that it would not have resolved on it’s own?’

    I didn’t think to mention these problems were very long term, from my teenage years, in fact.
    Lifelong pain and frustration drove me to try anything. Even chiro! Maybe an osteopath or physiotherapist
    would have got results but it happened to be a chiropractor… cost-wise it was not expensive, about 30
    dollars per visit after gov’t refund (Australia).

    One chiro advised acupuncture but all I got was several hours of aching joints! Being a profound skeptic,
    I doubt any placebo effect from chiro; also I wonder if there’s anything in claims that nerve fibres exiting
    the spinal column can sustain damage from misaligned vertebrae- it sounds possible…

    Interesting that some others have found relief from chiropractic despite their skepticism.

  37. In reply to #36 by matt1162:

    In reply to #15 by Steven007:

    To echo most above I believe you will receive similar or better results simply employing a good massage therapist. That said, here’s a bit of irony. I was having significant shoulder and elbow pain (I am also an avid weightlifter). I finally visited an orthopedist who…

    Torn rotator cuff- me too- what a pain it is! Luckily mine healed after 6 months. Going over the handlebars of my mountain bike and landing smack on my back on the road did it. Old enough to know better!!

  38. I recently went to see an osteopath in the UK in relation to a painful shoulder. (I have been to osteopaths in the past for bad backs and have had good results – I suspect that a good massage can be beneficial depending on the nature of the injury)

    This osteopath performed what was clearly quackery. He told me that because of spinal misalignment, I lacked strength. To demonstrate, he told me to hold out my arm horizontally. He pushed down on my hand and pushed my arm down fairly easily. Then he cracked my spine a bit and told me to hold out my arm again. He pushed down on my arm and I was able to resist him much more easily. But the key point was that this time he pushed on my upper arm, rather than my hand! He was just making use of a principle of leverage (actually maybe someone can correct me – I don’t think it’s levers) to make it appear as if his manipulations had made me stronger.

    Needless to say I didn’t go back. I also ended up figuring out what was wrong with my shoulder and it had nothing to do with what he has said was the problem.

    Quackery indeed..

  39. In reply to #22 by MAJORPAIN:

    As an MD, my problem with chiropractors isn’t that they provide “relief” for back pain. My problem is they claim to be able to “treat everything” from runny noses and sore throats to liver cancer by manipulating the spine.

    Exactly. I’m also a doctor and – like others – am aware that until the last few decades many medical treatments were given without knowing how they worked (eg paracetamol) . Conversely, mainstream treatments that had been routine have been found to be usually useless (like many others of my generation I had my tonsils removed as a child – it almost certainly needlessly exposed me to the risks of surgery).

    To an extent, it seems possible that various ‘alternative’ therapies will, like some mainstream treatments, turn out to work, though not for the presumed reasons. In other words, I’m aware that people in glass house shouldn’t throw stones.

    But I agree that while chiropractors may be of use for spinal / other joint problems (my partner, who is an anaethestist, uses them for back pain), it is very hard to accept the universal health claims – which is suspicious – eg seems too much like reflexology which links all bodily organ to the feet.

    The proof of the pudding in medicine is in the eating – if it’s safe enough, and works well enough, its ok – even if the way it works isn’t clear, or unknown.

  40. Hi Matt,

    If I had arthritis I would experiment with outdoor hydrotherapy 3-7 times a week for a month to see if it made a difference.

    There is something special about natural bodies of water — they are a rich source of easily transferred free electrons which can help to ease pain and inflammation in the body.

    If you have a pond, or a river near you, it would definitely be worth a try, and you only have to stand with your feet in it to benefit (although direct contact with the water on your back would be great, I know it’s damn cold right now 😉

  41. In reply to #41 by TaraHanrahan:

    Hi Matt,

    If I had arthritis I would experiment with outdoor hydrotherapy 3-7 times a week for a month to see if it made a difference.

    There is something special about natural bodies of water — they are a rich source of easily transferred free electrons which can help to ease pain and inflammation…

    I’m sorry but this sounds like pseudoscience.

    Do you have any sources that don’t come from a website titled “Groundology” that claims our modern rubber soled shoes prevent us from “communicating” with the greater intelligence of the planet?

    I don’t doubt that hydrotherapy could be beneficial, even if it’s simply a case of the temperature gradient providing a bit of pain relief. But I seriously doubt there’s been this whole new discovery that’s been ignored by the wider scientific community, especially one coming from a group calling themselves “Groundology”.

    I don’t trust anyone who sticks a random word in front of the suffix ‘-ology’, just goes to show they crave more credibility than they deserve. If this were a real scientific discovery it would have been made by biophysicists, not a bunch of hippies who ‘invented’ their own branch of ‘science’ and wrote a bunch of lifestyle books.

  42. Well, yes.

    I read an interesting book recently called ‘Move Without Pain’ by Martha Peterson.

    Here’s a quote..

    When I first began to experience chronic pain, I was working at a chiropractic office. I’d been a massage therapist for fifteen years and maintained a busy practice with happy, loyal clients. I began to notice a trend: many of these clients would visit their chiropractor once or twice a week, come in for their massage, and need to come back and start all over again the next week. It didn’t seem right. How could we have survived as a species this long without weekly massages and chiropractic adjustments? It occurred to me that these clients must be doing something with their bodies that caused them to regress each week. Our musculoskeletal structure can’t be so weak that we need someone to put it back into place every seven days. It just didn’t add up.

    And she’s right. It doesn’t add up.

  43. Wow, I’m surprised to read all of these comments. Here in Canada, chiropractors are well educated and to my knowledge not involved in such quackery! I have endured 20+ years of chronic lower back pain, tension headaches, SI joint dysfunction, etc. I have been to numerous healthcare providers – physicians, chiropractors, RMTs, physiotherapists, etc. as I did not want to depend on anti-inflammatories and painkillers on a daily basis. It took me quite a while to find a practitioner who was able to provide me with relief but I found an excellent chiropractor and have been seeing her every week for three plus years. She uses an array of techniques to relax the muscles in my neck and back – active release therapy (pressure on the muscles), Graston technique as well as adjusting my neck and back as necessary. Sorry to hear that others have had such bad experiences, however I wanted to tell my story to let others know that there are some excellent chiropractors out there and if you are dealing with chronic pain, you may want to seek chiropractor care. This nurse is certainly happy she did!

  44. In reply to #6 by SaganTheCat:

    In the UK Chiropractic has been in the news a lot of liate, thanks to an article in the Guardian by Simon Singh. The British Chirpractic Association decided to sue for libel while at the same time instructing its members to remove certain promises from their websites.

    Mark Henderson tells the story of the Singh libel case in some detail in “The Geek Manifesto: Why Science matters”, first published 2012, now available as a Corgi paperback in the UK.

  45. If you’re in an accident, what doctor is your lawyer most likely to send you to for treatment (no matter what your injury)? Enough said.

  46. Releasing air from joints and causing a mere sound is no cure. The chiros want you to be shocked and amazed by the sounds they can elicit from your joints, when in fact they are nothing more than master joint crackers. If you’ve ever injured your hand, do you find sudden and miraculous relief by cracking your knuckles? It’s a charade, starting with the comical and farcical vibrating pads they put on you.

  47. painfreefooty
    Dec 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    How could we have survived as a species this long without weekly massages and chiropractic adjustments? It occurred to me that these clients must be doing something with their bodies that caused them to regress each week. Our musculoskeletal structure can’t be so weak that we need someone to put it back into place every seven days. It just didn’t add up.

    If someone has a damaged cartilage in a joint or a disk in their backs, a broken piece can be manipulated into place, but it is unlikely to to stay there, so the “cure” and “relief”, is only temporary.

    The problem with chiropractics, is that it mixes quackery with paramedic treatments like physiotherapy, massage, and heat treatments.

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