The author they tried to bankrupt was Simon Singh, author of Fermat's Last Theorem.
A "furious backlash" to the lawsuit resulted in the filing of formal complaints of false advertising against more than 500 individual chiropractors within one 24-hour period, with one national chiropractic organisation ordering its members to take down their websites, and Nature Medicine noting that the case had gathered wide support for Singh, as well as prompting calls for the reform of English libel laws
> I get it, you’re going to occasionally hear a friend say that chiropractic helped him de-clutter his alcove or do 87 sun salutations… but that’s an anecdote, and data is more important, and trustworthy than anecdotes. The data on chiropractic supports that the practice is nothing more than a collection of broken promises and fake medicine.
That's true. A blind pig does find an acorn from time to time. :)
Look, you found a chiro that basically did physiotherapy for you for a problem you were experiencing. Great! I'm glad it worked out!
But that doesn't change the fact that the profession at large is 1) founded on a fundamentally pseudo-scientific basis that has no grounding in reality, 2) is absolutely riddled with charlatans who claim to cure basically every human ailment, and 3) the professional associations actively defend those who make these claims rather than insisting on rigorous, evidence based, ethical standards of care.
If chiropractors want to be taken seriously, it's pretty easy: expose your treatments to the rigors of the scientific method, only support those treatments that have demonstrable benefits, and take away the licenses from the fraudsters who prey on those who are desperately suffering and looking for a way out.
Get an inversion table, a strong masseuse, sublingual CBD tincture, some shots of vodka, and a scrip for baclofen. Problem solved without snakeoil.
Selective data collection and interpretation can say pretty much anything you want it to, can't it.
And even the quackiest quack's “I've seen this problem before, this fixed it” is better than the best doctor's “I've never seen this before, but I can guess what might help”. You can have empiricism without science.
So the associations who ostensibly regulate this "profession" allow chiropractic practicioners to make absurd claims about curing asthma or hearing loss.
But there's good chiros out there so that makes it all fine!
Should we just jump to the No True Scotsman thing, now, or should we go back and forth a bit first?
Placebo is a hell of a drug, most especially when it comes to nebulous and subjective pain.
Maybe your physio actually got you on the way to recovery. And the chiropractor is simply taking credit.
Also what actually does an 'adjustment' do?
Just thinking out loud here.
Their argument is that subluxations (misalignment of the vertebrae) impair nerve function, kind of like having a kink in a hose. Misaligned vertebrae press on nerves and make them less able to deliver signals from the brain. Those signals trigger healing, so by relieving the pressure, the body becomes more able to heal itself.
And this "theory" is--pardon the expression--complete horseshit that's unsupported by any scientific evidence.
The article actually covers this topic at some length, including the fact that this "theory" regarding subluxations was discovered through the very scientific practice of seance...
In fact, it's not scientific, and that's why I consider it valuable. It can see things that science misses.
Science is often the best method we have, but it's far from infallible. And the idea that there must be a total disconnect between science and mysticism is simply false. Many of the best scientists have had a mystical bent (Einstein, Newton, Bacon).
What a "grade 5 lumbopelvic mobilization"--what all the medical science people (online) were saying I needed to get done (like, I was at the point where I was watching talks from conferences on lumbar spine radiculopathy issues)--does is it takes the ilium and the sacrum in one's pelvis and separates them slightly, essentially stretching the sacroiliac joint a bit (which is hard to do and requires enough directed force to make it really hard to do to yourself... that joint "normally" barely moves at all: it is at best a shock absorber) and then allowing it to go back to a maybe-more-normal position in the case that they have accidentally gotten locked into a bad place and ended up with some tissue (or even a nerve) getting pinched. Physical therapists will also do this, but as far as I can tell--after starting to try to get an appointment with a new one at around the same time (but unable to get one for weeks out)--they are way more addicted to following only the pathologies that have actually been determined by the doctor who prescribed you to see them (as that's how they work: the doctor give a you a prescription).
I saw two otolaryngologists. One was an arrogant prick who said I had allergies despite having an extreme left lateralization Weber test, the other found what I suspected from research: SCDS visible on a CT scan requiring forthcoming invasive brain surgery to repair it. It has nothing to do with MD, DO, or RN but the skill, wisdom, and professionalism of a specific provider.
Fast forward more than a decade and I have an amazing chiropractor. Every time I go there, I walk away feeling better, walking straighter, and in less pain. My daughter also goes there and the chiropractor has helped her tremendously with various issues.
If anything I think it's a shame that the quacks and the Good Guys can share the same title. But it's the same in any profession, isn't it?
It reminds me of the joke: What do you call a med student that graduates at the bottom of his class?
So what is your chiro fixing, if you have to keep going back for ten years?
No. Chiropractic medicine is pseudo-scientific, so inevitably the percentage of quacks will be far greater than in a scientific-based medicine.
So not remotely the same.
So yes, it is remotely the same.
If you claim to be "Science based" you have to prove it with your actions. Words are not enough...Vitriolic rants only make you look like the kook...
I actually agree with most of your post, but want to comment on this: yes, it's the same in any profession, but the profession itself also matters. Some are grounded in science, some aren't, and this matters. People are going to be people, but the foundations of their jobs matter.
"Who the hell peddles (real) medicine out of a kiosk"
It is so elitist it out of touch. Most chiropractors are not in mall kiosks.
My eye doctor is located in a mall.
He may be right but this rant didn't address that.
Here it means highest-ranked/best-known based on trade publications.
In Spain ophtalmologist, like physiotherapist has studied medicine and specialized. But optometrists has not and maybe you are comparing a chiropractors (without medicine title) with optometrists.
Ophthalmologist = Medical Doctor (MD) that specializes in the eyes. 4 years of medical school followed by an internship and residency like any other MD.
Optometrist = Doctor of Optometry. 4 year professional degree post Bachelors.
There's a lot of overlap between the two, but there are some things Ophthalmologists can do that Optometrists can't, like eye surgery and prescribing drugs.
Optician = Not a medical professional at all. Some states require an Associates Degree, many just require a certificate. Basically the person at a mall kiosk who helps you pick out eyeglass frames, puts the lenses that an Ophthalmologist or Optometrist prescribed into the frames, and fits them to your head.
That’s no better than energy healing, and the idea that you have energy flows that get interrupted and need to be corrected by using a certain crystal.
Having said that, chiropractors can fix muscular skeletal issues, that the typical medical community often ignores.
My chiropractor anecdote is this: I was in college and I had a bad pain in my neck and jaw. It came out of nowhere, and lingered as an annoying pain. I went to the student health clinic, where the doctor promptly prescribed me antibiotics for 30 days. I took the antibiotics, and things sort of improved. But the pain never went away.
I went to a chiropractor, who gave me one, single adjustment. When he adjusted my neck, it hurt like heck. 24 hours later the pain was greatly diminished. 24 hours after that, the pain went away and I never felt it again.
There was no infection; the antibiotics did nothing. The relief I felt over 30 days was merely the healing of the body on its own. There was still something incorrect in my neck and jaw, and who knows if it ever would have resolved. The chiropractor fixed it in literally 30 seconds.
So, it’s a mixed bag. And certainly, I hope everyone criticizing chiropractic care is similarly critical of Western medicine, and dumb doctors like the one who simply threw antibiotics at me and sent me on my way.
One more thing, I’m a lawyer who does the occasional personal injury work. A lot of that industry is based on chiropractic care. And there are some over billing charlatans making bank doing that chiro care. I guess the bottom line is that I’m not willing to completely toss out chiro cares potential, but there are lots of bad actors.
Doctors are also human.
I had a friend who had eye problems suddenly, and the first doctor told him that he would become blind in some more years. Then he told him to put some eyedrops to ease pain meanwhile.
He was devastated. Imagine being in your 18s and then become blind...
Then, he went to another doctor because the eyedrops werent very effective. That new doctor saw again his symptoms and told him that "it was just an hormonal thing, it will be no more when it stabilizes with adult developtment" and gave him more appropiate eyedrops.
Since then he has good health.
I have an endless number of terrible experiences with UK GPs and few good experiences.
When I was 8 I started getting headaches. These headaches got worse and worse until I was hitting my head against the wall and the metal bedposts of my bed to give me pain to distract from the headache. My mother took me from GP to GP getting a record at the local surgery for being quite a pest trying to get a GP who would do something about it instead of claiming that it's normal for an 8 year old kid to get debilitating headaches and that I was just acting or that I just needed to get given paracetamol.
A year or two later I had flat feet which caused me immense pain while walking long distances. Going to the GP it took my mother's begging and another GP change before they decided to give me a referral to a specialist (previously one GP said that I just needed to take paracetamol and if that didn't work take ibuprofene as well, which my mother tried until I started getting pains in my abdomen which I assume must have been my liver or stomach complaining). The specialist immediately noticed that I did in fact have flat feet and needed inserts in my shoes to correct this. The inserts immediately stopped the pain from happening and a few months later I could walk without inserts.
When a lot of front-line doctors (at least in my experience) avoid taking on the responsibility of making any kind of diagnosis or even getting you to a specialist I can totally see why people who privately go directly to someone who has at least a little bit of specialization find the results to be a lot better.
I can assure you that 99% of chiropractors would never claim that they can cure cancer.
The classic example is Hippocrates' theory of the Four Humours. Galen, world-renowned physiologist, elaborated on this by ascribing psychological temperaments to each Humour… To cut a long story short, he taught us that the Central Nervous System controlled the body, and was in turn controlled by the brain (or, at least, the voice was); and that cataracts can be removed with a needle; and that blood provides life-giving energy and nutrition to the body (specifically, heart-generated blood provides energy and liver-generated blood provides nutrition, and blood passes between the chambers of the heart via a blood-permeable interventricular septum); and that men have more teeth than women.
Medicine has moved on since then. If Chiropractors haven't, that's a good argument, but “Chiropractors used to be quacks” isn't a particularly strong argument that they are now.
Men on average have more teeth than women (since hyperdontia is twice as common in men.)
But that's obviously not what the Greeks were referring to.
I’ve never been a big believer in the practice, and yes there are very rare cases where a chiropractic adjustment can lead to a stroke but again, it’s extremely rare. (Perhaps less rare if you’re going to the guy at the mall kiosk..)
I’d like to see some scientific studies proving chiropractic adjustments are harmful.
A lot of physical and mental health has to do with simply having awareness and being conscious of your body. For some people, going to a chiropractor monthly gives them 20 minutes in a room where their doing nothing but thinking of their body and talking about their body with the chiropractor.
Again, I’ve never been a big believer of the science behind it. But I am a believer that any activity that makes you sit down and think about your body and what you could be doing differently to reduce your aches/pains is likely to have some degree of positive outcome.
There are lots of links in the article and I didn’t click them all. But if there are actual studies showing damage (aside from 1 in a million adjustments causing a stroke), I would love to read them.
If the care is outright harmful, we all must have dodged a bullet.
And I have at least one or two anecdotes where the treatment genuinely brought me near-instant, lasting relief for an ache or pain.
The burden of proof lies very much in the other direction.
Oh wait that's the opposite of how it works. Medical procedures have to go through a rigorous approval process to prove they are safe, or at least better than no treatment.
I have a ~30 year old friend who had a stroke shortly after seeing a chiro; it was not officially recorded as due to the adjustment, but I suspect it was. How many more strokes are not properly attributed?
This is really not at all how science works. On the contrary, chiropractors should be able to prove that their methods work to a community of extremely skeptical scientists, using double-blind tests as is standard practice.
At the end, it is likely mostly harmless, just like homeopathy. It may be even positive, in that receiving regular soothing attention from a bullshitter may have a good effect on your mental health (unless it is used as a replacement for real medical care when there are serious issues).
This is why I would be more interested in seeing studies showing harm than studies showing efficacy.
If it’s harmless and helps people in psychosomatic/indirect ways, I’m all for it. Especially when the alternative is going to an orthopedic doc and getting pain meds, over-eagerly prescribed surgery, etc.
Not me. I abhor pretty lies, even when the knowledge of the truth proves to be harmful.
This is the same question that gets asked of drug developers as well - There's the efficacy question AND the harmful question. Does it work? (not what he's asking) and Does it break something? (this is the question)
This is a valid scientific endeavor.
Medlife Crisis has a good video talking about the placebo effect and the promotion of pseudoscientific treatments that's really worth a watch:
tl;dr In the video, he captures my concerns perfectly about the whole thing, "by mainstreaming and legitimising practices outside proven science it increases acceptance of things that don't work, and regular people can be harmed through neglecting effective therapies"
Anecdata doesn't matter is such a bleak worldview. Technocracy has huge gaps, from how people view, understand, and interpret data to collection and sorting practices. Anecdata helps tell the story of why things don't work or what we missed that does work. It helps us recognize gaps and improve. Technocracy and anecdata are a marriage you cannot rid yourself of because the human worldview, no matter how data rich is fallible.
This author takes issue with holistic medicine. I've heard this argument time and again about chiropractics due to its wonky history and some outlier practitioners. I've rarely run into chiropractors that have told me stuff that aligns with junk. On the other hand, I have ran into a number of Chiros that are more like DOs in the holistic things they ascribe to. I have run into chiropractors that were determined to remedy my issue (I have a crack in my lower column around my sciatic nerve). When the VA started prescribing me pills and couldn't find the crack after numerous MRIs and X-rays I found a chiropractor. When my leg would go numb and I would get shooting pain that put wells of tears in my eyes, he did x-rays, found it, cracked my back and alleviated enough pressure that I could walk. I knew and he reminded me that I had to lose weight, I had to increase my core strength, and I needed to take pride in living again.
I've had numerous people argue with me about what it is that they think he did that helped where the VA fell short and thought palliative care or spinal fusion was their only option. I speak to you with no spinal fusions, and I don't know the science of what he did, but I'm shocked at the audacity that people have to chalk all Chiros up as lunatics and snake oil salespeople.
My point is, it's important to speak concisely about problems, and I know it is difficult to in the moment, but "Chiropractors are bullshit" is on par with someone who has experienced the worst ends of technocracy saying, "Technocracy is bullshit".
For instance, if you sit for hours in the same funny position on your couch every night. Or if you tend to sit on one leg constantly. Or if you sleep in the same funny position all the time and create tightness in your neck.
I would love to have a practitioner look at my entire musculoskeletal system in order identify the specific areas that need work - the linchpin in the entire imbalance. There is a concept called referred pain - which means that sometimes pain in one part of your body is actually caused by an issue somewhere completely different.
For what it’s worth, good chiropractors will dig in and give advice like “don’t drive with your wallet in your back pocket because you’ll sit crooked”
Chiropractors tend to be more holistic in their thinking in my experience compared to regular doctors who ignore lifestyle issues.
I told a nurse once about my grandmother's extreme spinal hunch. She responded that the tragedy of that particular illness is that usually it can be prevented by regularly exercising your back's range of motion in every direction, and not perpetually hunching over.
I would love to have a practitioner look at my entire musculoskeletal system in order identify the specific areas that need work ...
After spending 30 minutes with a lacrosse ball I can feel my entire body relax. Using it on your ass cheeks will do wonders especially if you sit constantly. Your muscles will bind up and kinda stick together - the ball helps loosen up knots and tightness.
It is not pleasant for the faint of heart ... but if you can push past it the first few times you will eventually learn to appreciate the relief more than the torture of doing it. A lot of times you will physically feel pain melt away.
I got nothin better to do on this Sat morning so I am gonna get mine out right now and do some mobilizing.
Psoas release is also very helpful for those of us who are sitting all the time: http://recoveryourstride.blogspot.com/2012/05/this-works-flo...
For example, my spine has lost its natural lordosis and is completely flattened yet I experience no pain. My mother has several disc hernias and disc protrusions along with degenerative changes due to age, no pain. She had shoulder pain and the physical issue was calcification of tendon. There are people with calcified tendons, no pain.
My father had massive back pain issues with degenerative changes of spine that don’t cause any pain to some. The moment he started fixing a systemic issue of the back being weak and sensitizing the tissue he started experiencing less pain.
a Physiotherapist does that. Ok, they won't look at the "entire muscle-skeletal system" but the low-hanging fruit is usually obvious to them.
That’s why I hesitate to completely agree with an article like this. I’ll be the first to admit chiropractic limitations. However, there are real benefits when used appropriately. The problem is when the chiropractors get out over there skis, and start talking about solving all of the bodies problems through alignment alignment of the spine.
The 'problem' is not chiropractors failing to stay in their lane - If they follow the theory, their lane includes everything.
The problem is that the theory is still being taught, despite being trivially disproven since the invention of the x-ray.
Then one day, he was in such severe pain his wife called an ambulance who took him to the ER. He had lung cancer that had metastasized. The chiropractor completely missed the very obvious cancer on the xray which the ER spotted quickly.
He died a few months later. It was too late for any realistic attempt at treatment.
Always see a real MD first.
For all Wikipedia's flaws, it does a good job of talking straight about this kind of thing.
We did: Physiotherapy.
I still remember Ian Rossborough (even though he got suspended after adjusting a baby) and his famous video
making a boy walk straight in 10 days.
Honest question, is this a stunt? Scam? Fake? Magic? Bullshit?
Hard to pick just one.
The "got suspended after adjusting a baby" line is -- you have to admit -- a bit of a red flag.
Isn't that just a strike on kid's lower vertebra, where he holds his fingers beforehand?
The channel name is Chiro Core by Dr Ian
I've only done it for about 6-9 sessions at a time, and with years between revisits. It's the same effect, for me, as a massage therapist. For a while after the therapy, I feel great.
I don't look at chiropractors or massage therapists as a cure for anything. It's just an experience that feels good and has short term lasting effects that have been worth the cost to me.
I work a hands on job involving climbing, crawling, pulling or lifting up to 150kg or 330lbs, and various other physically strenuous activities, as well as sitting at a desk. So the benefits may greatly differ for me than that of an average person.
After seeing a couple doctors, they told me I had many months of recovery ahead, probably surgery to fix it. It made no sense to me, no one would touch this huge bump on my shoulder unless they went to cut me open, which would be significant healing time.
I went to a local myopractor on a recommendation, not quite a chiropractor, but along the same vein. They massaged my upper back and shoulder and set my shoulder in first visit, then scolded me for waiting so long to do it in the first place. They had me come back a few more times to monitor it and reset it if need be, and I was back on the ice in 4 weeks.
That was 20 years ago, I weekly see a myopractor now, and I credit them for keeping my adrenaline junky banged up 40 year old body together in good enough condition to keep doing the crazy stuff.
Everyone should read this book and then reevaluate comments about chiropractors.
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
And I’m not throwing shade. It’s not any single persons fault or a comment on character. I really do believe there’s a systemic problem with our education system. The reason chiropracty causes this to stand out is that it very successfully flaunts the scientific method and is still accepted at large (for reasons I won’t start going into, but most of which are covered in the book)
So I might be an outlier but can attest that a chiropractor fixed my back pain, I was 100% pain free and never needed to go back.
I personally think the problem is that the practice has over-medicalized what it does, and medicine does indeed require a high burden of objective evidence, which they can't meet. But there are plenty of things that people do where "do people like it?" and "is it safe enough?" are high enough bars.
I do think the question of "is it safe enough?" is the interesting one with respect to chiropractic adjustments, and I wish that were better separated from the (in my opinion) more tedious debate about whether it is generally BS.
I suppose that is true, where I live chiropractic visits are subsidized by a government run medical system and because of that, there is a detailed record of treatment. Positive and negative outcome inference should be possible with such a record so trusting people is not required.
In other words, if enough people visited chiropractors and then later visited doctors for pain medication and or surgery then there would be a reasonable argument against funding chiropractic treatments. I can only assume the opposite is also true, hence the reason they are currently and have been funding chiropractor treatments for the last three decades.
Personally, I know the adjustments work, but I’ve seen the alternative scenario with guys I’ve played hockey with they were hurt, and even if it were all in my head, it’s still a far superior outcome frankly. I’m pain free and drug free.
Then watch part 2:
People will believe in anything, especially false hope for the impossible, saving a buck, or a shortcut.
but.. i live in chiropractor hell in northern indiana.. the number of chiropractors here are absurd. and one of the things they utilize is a body heat imaging scan to determine if patients have: cancer, colitis, celiac's and a world of other stuff.. that they cant actually detect.. this has raised a generation of women that won't get mammograms because of the evil radiation.
on the other hand, my wife is a breast cancer surgeon and business is good here.
Player likes chiropractic because he believes it makes him perform more optimally, you inserted/made up this concept of the NFL pushing chiro to save money "at the player's expense".
Pro-athletes preferring chiro is a strong counter-signal these "skeptic" articles.
Their manipulations offer temporary pain relief because they forcefully mobilize the joint/bone structure. The only way to fix this long term is by correcting the muscle imbalances through physical therapy. Most people would rather get immediate pain relief vs months of therapy and exercise, so they have a constant supply of victims.
Chiropractic care should be outlawed as snake oil or health plans should stop covering it.
I realize the industry is full of snake oil practitioners, but some of them are actual professionals.
It's scary effective.
> There is a distinction between osteopathic physicians trained within the United States and those trained outside of the United States. Osteopathic physicians, or DOs, currently have unlimited practice rights in roughly 74 countries, with partial practice rights in many more; DOs have full practice rights in all 50 US states. As of 2018, there were more than 145,000 osteopathic physicians and osteopathic medical students in the United States.
> Essentially we need to distinguish between osteopathic medicine, which is mostly equivalent to standard medicine, and osteopathic manipulation, which is pure pseudoscience akin to straight chiropractic.
> The fact that any individual physician is a DO rather than an MD really tells us nothing. However, osteopathic medicine really should ditch the manipulation based on quaint notions of vitalism. They should also stop selling themselves as “holistic” or pretending that they invented preventive medicine.
Over the next two weeks my left back shoulder forearm and hand would vary in sensation from complete numbness to random spasms to extreme pain like fire or bursting open. I lost muscle and my back shoulder and arm began to atrophy.
In NYC it's tough to get to see a doctor without an appointment unless you're loaded. I'm not but I was willing to bleed my life savings to get some relief. I went to lots of doctors, paying cash, just to get someone to help. They barely looked at me and never touched me. An x-ray showed no broken bones so they prescribed muscle relaxers. Nothing they did would address the underlying issue or actually do anything beyond postponing even worse bigger issues to deal with later.
I started going to acupuncture. $200 dollars a pop. Laying on the table was excruciating. I couldn't feel the needles at all. The acupuncturist eventually would push needles all the way through various muscles with no effect. Then we tried "cupping", it looked awesome/gruesome. Since the needle pokes weren't working she recommended chiro.
This is were things get interesting. I'm on the chiro table, he walked in and takes one look at me "Whoa, what did you do?!" He could see my shoulder was not aligned. I felt so relieved that someone finally could see my injury and immediately. I thought I was in good hands. He started to manipulate me. "Did you have a previous injury? Your shoulder has partial subluxation. Your c5,c6,c7 are out of alignment. That's strange." Then he said he was going to fix my shoulder. "You'll feel a lot of pressure. That's weird it popped out again. You may should go to the ER." I now I realize I went in to shock. Everything after was a blur. I remember him saying things but I don't know what. I ended up in NYU ER. My entire arm felt like was opened and dissected and lit on fire. It was a busy day and the waiting room had a triage tent setup. I wasn't dying and blood was flowing to my arm so I sat there for three hours. They finally gave me a valium. The pain stopped. As I left, the ER staff begged me to stay. I got in a taxi and went home. The valium made me feel great, like a cloud; soft and fluffy. (BTW that ER visit "not a bill" was for $5,500... I never saw specialist or got any imaging. Just a valium.) The day after I felt like I lost a fight and got my left side kicked in. Weeks later I saw a neurologist, I had an MRI, It turns out my c567 were in fact bulging. But the chiro should not have manipulated me without imaging.
This is my back in May of that year.
I worked with PT and regained 100% use and strength even better than pre-injury, however as of today my thumb, index and middle finger are numb, I presume due to the extreme manipulation in the chiropractors office.
Same for the ER a) giving you valium without a physical exam, and then b) begging you to stay without saying why.
I saw once at a hospital a kid who had fallen off a bike. There were like 4 men pulling and twisting his pelvis like crazy. I shuddered at the sight. These were actual doctors so yeah.
About the bone setters, they just fixed your twisted limb or foot or something. Over the past many years now they have fallen out of fashion so your nearest bone and joint hospital is where they treat you.
Rest of therapy and stuff is now delegated to physiotherapists.
Chiropractors have this weird fixation on vertebrae.
Do I trust the new-age-ish stuff that they offer? No. Do I trust them to straighten my spine? Yes. At least, I trust the one I have.
I mean it is downright unacceptable these days.
Thank you for trying to turn it into something positive with great words though.
Lumping psychology and psychiatry together is also a leap.
One is about magical theories on how our minds and emotions work, the other is about biochemistry.
It's lovely that you think of psychiatry as concerned with biochemistry, but that is the problem that I am referring to.