The end of chiropractory

My understanding is that most people who go to chiropractors get either nothing, somewhat injured, severely injured, or even (now and then) chiropracted to death. Of course, the same could be said of doctors or health care systems in general: Many people do not walk out of the hospital alive. But, it is also my understanding that Chiropractory does not really offer anything that is medically beneficial and based on any kind of real research. But it continues anyway.

What has happened lately in Britian is that the lack of substantiation behind the claims of chiropractors has become a legal issue. This is causing British chiropractors to scramble, and apparently, they are taking down their web sites in a big hurry so that they can’t be caught making claims that are medically important to people but that have no basis.

I have one word for the British Chiropractors: Google Archive. Well, OK, two words, but who’s counting.

Comments

  1. #1 Monica
    June 10, 2009

    before I was married my back went out. I was stuck flat on my back for 2 months while I went to the GP then a physical therapist WHO MADE ME WORSE…then a accupuncturist who gave up…THEN a chiropractor who fixed me in two days!!

    I don’t give a damn if I’m an anecdote…I got to go on my honeymoon because of that chiropractor…

    i also have a friend who went to chiropractor school…I had an old injury that acted up numerous times…a whiplash from a car accident…I repeatedly had pain from that for years off and on.

    one treatment from her and it never acted up again…
    this blatant calling out of ALL chiropractors when there are so many varieties is just nasty name calling.

  2. #2 Jason Thibeault
    June 10, 2009

    Given that chiropractors in the UK are presently taking down everything on their site that is unresearched and could land them in trouble if the libel/slander laws get revamped to keep asshole bunk-peddlers from hiding behind them, I’d have to say that much of what they do is unsupported by science.

    There are some limited cases where chiropractic does in fact help, e.g. skeletal problems or a need for rehabilitation after an accident, or basically your anecdote. But for curing a cold or the swine flu? For magically healing cancer and Alzheimers and who knows whatever else? No way. No how. The science doesn’t support it, and only now are the laws changing to reflect that saying so is not slander.

    Chiropractic is to woo-chiropractic what aspirin is to herbal medicine. It’s something good and possibly (or in the case of aspirin, definitely) scientifically useful and provable, as compared to pie-in-the-sky fantasy magic world fairy tales.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    June 10, 2009

    I had always thought there were two kinds, the good ones and the bad ones. Maybe the British ones are all bad.

  4. #4 Bo
    June 10, 2009

    The scientifically proven/supported version of chiropractic exists… it is called physiotherapy (physical therapy here in the states). We have research guiding when it is best to “manipulate or mobilize” a spine (and most research says stay away from the neck).

  5. #5 Jason Thibeault
    June 10, 2009

    Yeah, that’s my understanding too. The chiropractors in Canada are, generally, forced to adhere to the same scientific standards other medicinal practices have. The laws are a little more lax than I’d like on the naturopathy but they did chiropractic mostly right. That’s not to say there aren’t bullshit artists (even amongst the doctor class!) that would recommend chiropractic where it’s not merited. Because that does happen. More than I’d like. But at least there do actually exist good chiropractors who don’t overstep the bounds of what’s been scientifically proven to work via peer-reviewed research.

  6. #6 Mark P
    June 10, 2009

    My brother has also reported some relief from problems after visiting a chiropractor. But as far as I can tell, anything a chiropractor does that gives relief is essentially physical therapy; it has nothing to do with the “theoretical” underpinnings of chiropractic, which sound like something a 19th Century snake oil salesman would spout. As I understand it, they are taught that every physical ailment, including disease, is the result of a misalignment of the spine.

  7. #7 intepid
    June 10, 2009

    I think you mean Google cache and archive.org

  8. #8 the real me
    June 10, 2009

    “My understanding is that most people who go to chiropractors get either nothing, somewhat injured, severely injured, or even (now and then) chiropracted to death.”
    Really?? Wow, that;s too bad…

    I was shot several times with a .357 many years ago, and my left hand and right leg were arguing with each other for years after that over which muscle in my body they should borrow in lieu of having their own in full capacity.I limped on the right, and couldn’t use my left arm for years because my spine was all messed up (physical therapy my ass…)

    I went through the pussyfoot chiropractors who bilk you one session at a time with mood music and way too tender touch until I found a guy who spoke laymans english. I sid ” If I pay you cash, and leave no record that I was ever here ( in case you kill me) would you try to crack my bones so that I can stop limping?”

    A local guy, about 250 pounds and solid said “sure. But it might scare you when you hear your bones crack.”

    “Deal,” I said. When he smashed me around a bit my spine popped so loud that his secretary came running in from two doors down–” It sounded like a firecracker!” she said.

    I walked without a limp for the first time in years that same day,for 25 dollars in cash, and fifteen years later I am barely a gimp, except when the weather is acting up-like any sports injury.

  9. #9 Pierce R. Butler
    June 10, 2009

    Even the insolently disrespectful Orac has conceded somewhere that, at best, chiropractors can serve a function somewhat analogous to physical therapists.

    Of course, by morning the endorphins and oxytocin wore off and he was back to his usual surly self.

  10. #10 Albatross
    June 11, 2009

    This is timely for me. Being naturally skeptical, I’ve never given a moment’s thought to chiropractic, which seemed like a Reese’s Cup of pseudoscience and massage. Recently I was in a doozy of a bike accident (lesson: always tune up your bike or your chain may jump off the gears while you’re standing up to pedal) and over two weeks later my back still hurts.

    A woman I respect very much looked at me and asked how I could possibly have NOT gone yet to a chiropractor. I have to admit I started to waver. But still, what she was saying just didn’t compute: “align” my spine? With what, a laser? “Adjust” me? What could a chiropractor possibly do that I wouldn’t UN-do the moment I stood back up off the table.

    I respect Monica and ‘the real me’ (dude, SEVERAL times with a .357? And you’re here talking about it? You must be tougher than Hell’s Angels brand beef jerky!) that they say they gained relief, but I am still skeptical of the claims of chiropractic.

    Should I try it just to see what happens? Worst I could be out some cash, no? Or how likely is it they’ll twist something and paralyze me? I’m game to try something in the name of science…

  11. #11 mysie
    June 11, 2009

    The title of your post is “The end of chiropractory”, and within it you say your understanding of chiropractory is that it is useless at best, death-inducing at worst. Not until comments point out the positive side of chiropractory do you let us in on your belief that there are good chiropractors as well as bad. So my preparation to tell you that chiropractic therapy was the only one that relieved my sciatica, and my research to confirm that all US states require licensing of chiropractors was all for nil.

    My question then is, if you knew about good chiropractic therapy, why imply by your title and “death” comments that chiropractory is all bad and deserves to be shut down? Why the statement that chiropractory is not based on “real” science, and question why it’s still allowed to continue?

  12. #12 JN
    June 11, 2009

    Some of my siblings went camping in Utah a few years back, and when they came back they said they saw a UFO. Its qualities (I have forgotten precisely what) were so strikingly and inexplicably unusual that they concluded it must have been an extraterrestrial craft.

    As long as we’re sharing anecdotes, I thought I’d chime in.

  13. #13 Azkyroth
    June 11, 2009

    My understanding is that some forms of chiropractic techniques can be adapted to improve symptoms of muscular and skeletal disorders of the back and spine, but I don’t have references to hand.

  14. #14 Sailor
    June 11, 2009

    Albatross, I would go to a physiotherapist first, they are properly trained and know what they are doing. Then I would consider an osteopath, according to Singh, they are somewhat safer than a chiropractor. Despite the favorable comments here, I know of two people who were damaged by chiropractors. I used to suffer from a bad back and one time it went out I decided to try a chiropractor – it was a joke, He said afterwards “you are better now”. I said “No, I’m, not I feel exactly the same”. He sad “well you will feel better in a few days” I said “I know, I always do”. So sometimes chiropractors are useless and sometimes, judging by the comments here, they get lucky.
    Whatever yo do, do not let him work on your neck.

  15. #15 davem
    June 11, 2009

    Another anecdote: A few years back, I went down a ski mogul slope head first, on my back. Ouch! Afterwards, I couldn’t grip and lift objects in my right hand – I could lift, or grip, but not both. A visit to the doctor was unfruitful. Then, lying on a couch watching TV, I turned over, with neck at slightly odd angle. Crack! Scary noise from my neck. Instant cure. Nil cost, but an admission to myself that that cracking stuff might well work.

  16. #16 symball
    June 11, 2009

    Unfortunately the people who have had damascene conversions tho chiro are the ones who post- there are few posts from those injured (I have an anecdote of a freind who was invalided out of the police after a visit for a minor sports injury).

    When tested it has a slight improvement over placebo to lower back pain- the same as pysio and drugs. that is it- nothing else works, These quacks should be run out of town (McTimony, who sent this e-mail, are from my home town!)

    It is about time the double standards are removed- medicine must be proved to be safe and effective, with the same standard of evidence whether it is pharmaceutical, physical or voodoo!

  17. #17 Serena
    June 11, 2009

    I have 2 relatives who independently visited chiropractors last fall. One ended up in the hospital and almost died. The other was injured and his problems were more severe after receiving “treatment”. Just another anecdote for you.

  18. #18 Sarah
    June 12, 2009

    A good chiropracter doesn’t just manipulate your spine, they provide good physical therapy (as in proper exercises) as well. Thus there are good ones and bad ones. I will spare you anecdotes for my chiropractic experiences, but I could provide anecdotes for good and bad MD’s as well but no one is about to throw them out the door.

    Critical thinking skills are important in choosing either one.

  19. #19 back pain
    June 18, 2009

    I have a strong back pain for the last 3 years.

  20. #20 Darklldo
    Tasmania
    August 29, 2014

    I’ve gone to chiropractors for a number of years and know how quickly they can fix even things like haemorrhoids, indigestion, headaches, breathlessness and any number of other problems, it is a science and 5 years at University must surely give them the same respect we tend to give doctors who can just as easily prescribe the wrong medication, botch an operation or infect you with Golden staph and kill you slowly… no medical profession is safe or without fault, but it does help if you understand more about how and why chiropractory helps.
    If you understand that the spine holds the main nervous system of the body and that if the spine is out of kilter it can press on nerves that feed various parts of the body and which if shut down by pressure fail to support that various parts then you might make the connection between the pain you are experiencing and why it is happening.
    Better still read a book explaining the workings of the body and especially the spine and nervous system and maybe then you won’t be so cynical

  21. #21 Greg Laden
    August 29, 2014

    I read a lot of neruobiology and studied anatomy as a biological anthropologist, and I’ve taught both anatomy and neuroanatomy. So I think I might have already read that book you are talking about!