Three advocates of chiropractic write in

I have to say that I’ve gotten more pushback from readers on chiropractic “medicine” than I expected, especially given that there’s no good scientific evidence for its efficacy. If it’s benefited you, ask yourself whether you might have gotten better without treatment (this often happens), or whether some more qualified or experienced person, such as a physical therapist or even a massage therapist, would be a better choice than these undereducated but greedy quacks, who often claim that many diverse illnesses can be cured by manipulating the spine (“subluxation”), and who often try to sell you expensive treatment programs (in advance!) or use useless diagnostic tools like X-rays. Chiropractors are not medical doctors, and no hospital will allow them through the doors—at least no hospital that I know.

I did, however, get some of what I expected: comments from new people vigorously defending chiropractic. There’s no convert quite so vocal as enthusiasts who see their pet woo attacked.  Yesterday I got one comment from a chiropractor who, unfortunately, runs a school for gifted children. And just this morning three comments, all from new people who love chiropractic, wriggled into moderation. I present them below; none of these commenters be posting here again because I simply don’t want to get into arguments with the medical equivalent of flat-earthers.

The comments are below; the first was meant to be put after my post “Quackery of the month: Cincinnati Zoo uses chiropractic on tiger cub, adjusting spine to cure “failure to thrive” and the second two after “A benighted person defends chiropractors.” All spelling and grammar are preserved exactly as presented.

Ava Ronchetti [JAC: if you Google this name, you’ll come up with a chiropractor in Massachusetts]

You my friend, are as ignorant as you are uneducated. First of all, the comprehension of the human biology can be taught to a 3rd grader in the simplest of terms. THE NO SCIENTIFIC DATA bullshit is tiring at best, to explain to a dummy such as yourself…just ask thousands of non biased REALPERSONS, who have actually been to other allied health professionals and were helped. SCIENTIFIC evidence???? Is there SCIENTIFIC un altered data on the drugs that are addicting chronic pain sufferers by the millions. Doctors are taught to pass out drugs like they are candy..Cover up those symptoms your body is screaming at you to repair!! Medical and big Pharma to the rescue.They are killing us by the millions and youre here complaing about a Zoo helping a cub ti thrive by removing nerve interference so its little body can heal in its own..That my ignorant friend, is how Chiropractic works..take all your stuffy “lack of scientific data and sit down…way over there..in the nosebleed seats…

Yes, here’s a person who rejects scientific data for personal anecdotes (neglecting the fact that such anecdotes can be found for any form of quackery), and who makes the frequent claim that doctors are to blame for deaths. Well, yes, they are, sometimes, and do make errors, but they also do stuff like open-heart surgery and cancer treatment that carry substantial risks or constitutes palliative care. And they’re not wedded to quackery. I wonder if Ms. Ronchetti, if diagnosed with a severe infection like appendicitis, or a tumor on her brain, would abjure “Medical and Big Pharma.”

As for doctors killing people by addicting chronic pain sufferers, well, many doctors won’t prescribe the most addictive drugs, many patients don’t follow the regimen (is that the doctors’ fault?) and many peopole get the medication illegally. Should that really be blamed on “Medical and Big Pharma”?

It’s truly sad that the best these people can say about chiropractic is “some people claimed to have been helped” along with “but look! Medicine and Big Pharma kill people too!”.  And their rejection of scientific testing of medical treatment brands them as charlatans, unwilling to accept the best way to actually get evidence for the usefulness of their methods.

*********

David Black

You really do need to do your research. There are nearly a million people who die at the hands of the medical profession every year. I have said many times that organized medicine would kill to have our safety record. Check it out. You might save a few lives.
David Black, Doctor of Chiropractic

Really? I’d save a few lives by referring everybody with a medical problem to a chiropractor? If you do that, pal, you’ll kill a lot more than a million people per year!

*********

James

Chiropractic is based on neurology. If you don’t understand neurology you won’t be able to vet what comes your way about others options noons. The fact that allopathic Medicine using allopathic model tries to explain a wholistic process is part of the critics problem not to mention he is most likely a paid advocate for strictly the politaical medical establishment. The fact that some of the talented medical practitioners are crossing over from allopathic medicine into the realm of Holistic Mediicine speaks loudly of how ahead the Holistic practices and the profession of chiropractic is ahead of allopathic medicine in terms of Functional Performance. Thier is plenty of science backing the efficacy & safety of the practice of healing & treating health conditions more effectively than procedural/ symptom medicine or with use of drugs. The fact is a balanced system OutPerforms. Chiropractic is about one thing, removing nonproductive Resistance and restoring structural balance. The rest takes care of itself with appropriate Stewardship of Lifestyle. It’s that simple.

I’m not aware of any practicing physicians who have given up real medicine for chiropractic medicine. Maybe there’s one or two, but you’d be an idiot to do that, not just because you’ll lose money, but because you’ll trade a helping profession for a greedy and ineffective profession. (Remember, chiropractors aren’t allowed into hospitals to practice.)

As for the rest of the letter, it’s pretty much gibberish, so you can understand why “James” has succumbed to the blandishments of woo.

120 Comments

  1. Paul Davies
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I’ve found seeing a chiropractor very beneficial. Whether there is any scientific basis to the treatment is actually of secondary importance to me personally, though perhaps it should be relevant to people who make funding and/or policy decisions. I’m quite happy to accept that it’s basically massage therapy. There may also be an element of placebo. But in general, I think placebos are terribly underrated.

    • Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      But in that case the benefit is not unique to chiropractic. You might as well go see a proper physical therapist.

      • Paul Davies
        Posted March 2, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        But for me personally, I might get more benefit from seeing a chiropractor because I believe they are more effective than physiotherapists. The fact that a large part of this benefit may be placebo doesn’t really bother me. Why should it? Branded painkillers are demonstrably more effective than non-branded but chemically identical painkillers. So which do you take?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 2, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

          I take the non-branded (generic) painkiller every time. Because it’s half the price and I detest advertising BS and fear-mongering, it’s a species of fraud.

          cr

          • Posted March 2, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

            Me, too. Works fine.

            Generic medicine seeming not to work as well is a result of subjective perception, which is in turn a result of an irrational and prejudicial expectation that name brands work better. If you don’t hold that prejudice, that placebo effect won’t work.

            • phar84
              Posted March 2, 2017 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

              Perfect reply.

            • jeremy pereira
              Posted March 3, 2017 at 3:30 am | Permalink

              Trials have been done which show that painkillers packaged in branded boxes work better than the same painkillers packaged in plain boxes. Also, an injection works better than a pill and an intravenous drip is even more effective. There is some evidence that the effect holds even when people know it’s the same stuff.

              See Ben Goldacre’s book “Bad Science” for an in depth discussion of the weirdness of the placebo effect.

              • Posted March 3, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

                This doesn’t necessarily contradict my statement. I didn’t claim that nobody thinks name brand painkillers work better. I simply offered a possible explanation. Of course, my explanation wouldn’t apply if the tests were all proper double-blind tests. Were they? Another thing to consider is that self-reporting level of pain is extremely imprecise. I’d take that data with a huge grain of salt.

                Of course IV mess will work better than oral pills. It all makes it into your blood stream instead of not being digested and excreted. That is not a placebo effect.

              • Posted March 3, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

                I should add that my overall point is that placebo effects are not hard and fast, reliable effects. They are real, but they only work some of the time, for some people, often for the reason I gave. You can’t simply say “anyone who takes a placebo will experience the placebo effect”.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted March 3, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

                I agree with MB. I suspect the ‘branded box’ placebo effect only works for people who have been indoctrinated by advertising.

                It most certainly doesn’t work for me for two reasons: First, I loathe and detest almost all advertising so the message is lost on me even where it isn’t counter-productive and second, I’m accustomed to prescription medicines – that is, the real strong stuff that you can’t buy over the counter – being packed by the chemist in plain white boxes. Hence for me, intuitively, ‘plain box’ = more powerful.

                Quite aside from my strong desire to save a buck.

                cr

            • Paul Davies
              Posted March 3, 2017 at 6:41 am | Permalink

              Yes, this would have been my assumption too – until I read various pieces in New Scientist on the placebo effect and also Ben Goldacre’s book (see Jeremy’s comment below). I don’t think what you say is actually borne out by the evidence.

          • Paul Davies
            Posted March 3, 2017 at 6:39 am | Permalink

            It’s fine if you want to take the generic painkiller – it saves money, as you say. But they don’t work as well, because you’re missing out on all that lovely placebo effect! Up to you though. As I said, any added benefit is really down to the individual. If you get irrationally angry about advertising, for example, you might find branded products actually make you feel worse.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted March 3, 2017 at 9:22 am | Permalink

              Precisely. That’s me 🙂

              (Well, branded products don’t make me feel worse, just mildly niggled at having paid too much).

              With prescriptions (most of which in NZ are state-funded) I make a point of asking the chemist for the generic alternative. Especially since some drug companies are advertising “ask your chemist for genuine xxx”. It makes no difference to how much I pay directly, but the taxpayer pays for it.

              cr

              • Wunold
                Posted March 4, 2017 at 2:10 am | Permalink

                Precisely. That’s me 🙂

                Me too. I avoid branded products of all sorts because I don’t see their superiority to unbranded ones and thus suspect that the extra charge pays only for their advertisement.

                As for painkillers, I don’t use them but for extreme pain (which I haven’t had for a long time, fortunately). The everyday headache I treat with rest and silence. Toothache is treated by going to the dentist etc.

                I try to fix the cause instead of numbing the symptoms, as long as they don’t cripple or torture me.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted March 4, 2017 at 3:58 am | Permalink

                I generally don’t bother with painkillers unless absolutely necessary. But – speaking of my recent back pain, and an earlier bout of kidney stones – there are times when their use is very strongly indicated.

                I believe chronic pain can actually have adverse physical effects in and of itself. (I think I read that somewhere, it isn’t something I made up). If so, then painkillers are definitely appropriate when required in addition to trying to fix the cause.

                cr

              • Wunold
                Posted March 4, 2017 at 5:14 am | Permalink

                I concur that constant pain can have detrimental effects on the healing process and health overall, both physically (relieving postures, immobilisation) and psychically (distress, depression).

                Thematically related, I once read that numbing the nerves before an amputation lessens the risk of phantom pain afterwards significantly, because the nerves are not active when cut.

              • Diane G.
                Posted March 7, 2017 at 1:57 am | Permalink

                @ Wunold, re phantom pain–that’s fascinating!

            • Another Tom
              Posted March 3, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

              Um, no I find that generic Ibuprofen works just as well for me as Advil. The prime difference is that chiropractic neck adjustments can outright kill you via stroke renders your argument bullshit.

    • Sastra
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      My understanding is that chiropractic has two different camps. “Straight” chiropractic is the woo; scientific chiropractic does what physical therapists do.

      Unfortunately, most chiropractors fall into both camps, some more on one side than the other. This would make it kinda hard for me to trust one of the ‘good ones.’

  2. Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    “Wholistic”

    File that under “how to destroy your credibility with one word”.

    • Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      An eggcorn!

      http://time.com/3902230/what-is-an-eggcorn/

      • Sophie
        Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        That’s a moo point.

        (It’s like a cow’s opinion; it doesn’t matter).

        • jeremy pereira
          Posted March 3, 2017 at 3:36 am | Permalink

          I think “mute point” is a better example (and one that annoys me).

      • Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        And it’s not yet in the Eggcorn Database:

        http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/

      • jimroberts
        Posted March 2, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        An eggcorn replaces an unfamiliar word or phase by a similar-sounding semantically familiar one. “Wholistic” isn’t a familiar word, so this is just a simple malapropism.

        • jeremy pereira
          Posted March 3, 2017 at 3:39 am | Permalink

          If that were the case, “eggcorn” itself would be invalid, because you are replacing the a- in “acorn”.

        • Posted March 3, 2017 at 4:03 am | Permalink

          Yes, if that were the definition of eggcorn, eggcorn itself wouldn’t qualify, as Jeremy points out, nor would mixmatch mentioned in the Time article. The Merriam-Webster definition of eggcorn is:

          a word or phrase that sounds like and is mistakenly used in a seemingly logical or plausible way for another word or phrase either on its own or as part of a set expression.

          …and wholistic seems to qualify.

          However, it may be that an eggcorn requires some audible difference from the original word or phrase, and if that is the case, it wouldn’t qualify, because it’s not a ‘slip of the ear’, as someone has described an eggcorn, but a slip of the finger.

    • Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  3. mikeyc
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Long ago while recovering from an accident in a bicycle race my team’s doc suggested I try a chiroquacker to help with some back pain. He knew well what they were but felt that I could be helped by what amounted to massage therapy.

    I was in gradual school at the time studying immunology and this “Dr”, in the midst of “adjusting” me, started telling me how spinal subluxations have these great effects on the immune system, how they can help cure disease by stimulating immunity or something. I asked a few questions (I didn’t tell him my work) just to see what he had to say. Oh boy. Those guys are nuts.

    Never went back. I convinced my coach that I didn’t need any therapy.

    If they help with symptoms of back pain, that’s great. It’s just a special kind of physical therapy and when it’s medically appropriate to manipulate someone’s spine to help with skeletal-muscular issues, then great. But the woo…..

  4. Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    “pet woo!” Oh, that’s a keeper.

    You can always tell a lot about a person just by their writing. When I see ALL CAPS and multiple “?????” and “!!!!!” used to express something I think it’s fair to immediately conclude that you’re dealing w/ a low information character, and in these cases low information woomeisters.

    • veroxitatis
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Way back when I did a spell working in local government it was green ink and copy to the Queen!

    • Posted March 2, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      If it turns out the correspondent is a chiropractor it says more about the profession than we ever could.

      It reminds of the time someone on UseNet opened a paragraph of nonsense that looked like it was written by a 5 year old with “As a senior engineer in a large tech firm…”

      Meanwhile, on another forum, I was told by a tiger chiropractic enthusiast that I am ignorant of chiropractic for not understanding its magic ability to “not fix actual problems” but to “encourage the body to heal itself”. Also that I have a “different definition of science to everybody else”.

  5. Dominic
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    My chum is an osteopath but I think that is a different kettle of fish.

    • Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Depends on where you are. In the US they are mainstream (equivalent to an MD). In Europe (from what I gather) and Canada they are even more outside than chiropractors.

      • Martin X
        Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        The physicians in my family regard Osteopaths as crackpots. More objectively, this appears to be true to the degree that they practice osteopathy.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted March 3, 2017 at 4:40 am | Permalink

      From NHS Choices (UK):

      In the UK, osteopathy is a complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), and is different from conventional western medicine.

      Does osteopathy work?

      There’s good evidence that osteopathy is effective in treating persistent lower back pain. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends it as a treatment for this condition.

      There’s limited evidence to suggest it may be effective for some types of neck, shoulder or lower limb pain and recovery after hip or knee operations.

      There’s currently no good evidence that osteopathy is effective as a treatment for health conditions unrelated to the musculoskeletal system (bones and muscles).

  6. eric
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Wow, I have to say I’m surprised and disappointed with those three replies. After the first crank message I figured “round two” would be people making much more credible arguments…but it isn’t. Round two is still lots of ad homs, argument from ignorance, ‘all those patients can’t be wrong,’ and other very transparent fallacies.

    If, Jerry, you get a level-headed defense where the person cites peer-review studies and defends a mechanism for it, please consider posting it. I, for one, would be interested in seeing it. I doubt it would change my mind, but it would be nice to see some chiropractor who *doesn’t* defend their field by making conspiracy-theory-like accusations against ‘allopathic’ medicine and who shows they know the difference between anecdote and data. I honestly didn’t think the merely-misguided-to-crank count would be 0-to-4.

  7. Kirk Creelman
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I could see this one happening a mile away. Manipulate a tiger and you end up poking a bear. These quacks have a very thin skin and it constantly amazes me how the public accepts this woo as any form of legitimate medical practice. Thanks for vocalizing and exposing these “professionals” for the snake oil salespeople they really are.

  8. Randy schenck
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Your first letter from Ava, very classy. If anyone of any profession put that stuff on paper and sent it to me or you, they would not get the time of day or any of my time. I would not expect that mouth from any but a sailor and he or she would not be looking to extract money from my wallet. Yes Ava, you really sold me.

    • Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      The vehemence of the comments from chiros like Ronchetti suggest that PCC may have manipulated a nerve.

      • eric
        Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        Heh. Yes their ‘nerve flow’ seems to be quite strong and free. Maybe JAC could start a new form of alternative medicine. “Tauntopractice – reduces blockages between brain and mouth! Turns subluxions into superluxions! Observe how, with just a few jibes, tons of negative energy flows right out of subject!”

        • Posted March 2, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps they could visit Cincinnati Zoo and start practising on the Tauntauns.

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

          Lol @ darwinwins & eric!

  9. Kevin
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    America is becoming the land of avoidance. The quick pill, the magic lotion, and the voodoo spine shift.

    Exercise and diet. At present, there is no substitute for hard work and taking steps to actually learn something about your body and how it responds to the environment.

  10. Greg Geisler
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    They do love a good straw man argument! That the medical and pharmaceutical professions are imperfect has no bearing on the efficacy of your brand of snake oil. And I also enjoy reading “fact” and “evidence” but then not seeing any links to said facts and evidence. Thank you for banning these idiots.

    • Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      The line is something like:

      “The aeronautic industry has flaws. This does not entail your magic carpet will work!”

      (I forget the source for that, alas. Sorry!)

      • Posted March 2, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        It seems to me that a common theme of these responses is, “It’s not bad; it’s great. And also, your way is just as bad.”

        It’s very similar to what believers say about atheism. “Believing in God is not illogical; it makes perfect sense. And also, atheism is just as illogical.” Or, “faith isn’t bad; it’s good. Any also, it takes more faith to be an atheist than a believer.” Etc, etc.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted March 2, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        @Keith Douglas Your source *might* be Ben Goldacre: “flaws in aircraft design do not prove the existence of magic carpets” – though I don’t now if he originated that thought

    • Leigh Jackson
      Posted March 3, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      It’s not that “allopathic” medicine is imperfect. It’s evil! It’s anti-natural.

      A major component in the alt-med industry is rejection of science based medicine as “reductionist”. Naturalistic, as opposed to natural. Natural for alt med involves a mystical connectedness between the parts of the human – body, mind, soul – and the human and the universe. The beloved holistic paradigm. Microcosm/macrocosm. This notion has an ancient pedigree. Thus all the panoply of non-scientific “energies” flowing in and and through the human body and the universe.

      We do not have simply misinformed individuals but a groupthink with an alternative worldview – a pseudo-religious worldview. Given the popularity of alt-med treatments there are a whole lot of people making a living out of it.

      The vehemence of true believers – practitioners and their clients – stems from the threat that science-based medicine represents to their livelihoods and to their anti-scientific worldview.

  11. Martin X
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    — more pushback from readers on chiropractic “medicine” than I expected—

    I noticed years ago that posts against woo such as paranormal activity or near death experiences often produced a lot more hostility than did posts against religion or political stances.

    Maybe this is only true because the audience is in broad agreement on religion and politics, and so remains silent.

    • Sastra
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      People who are into woo because they’re “spiritual but not religious” are often very, very smug and proud that they’re not irrational and judgmental like Christians are. I think that makes them extra butthurt over being attacked from the science side; they’re not getting the acceptance and kudos they feel they deserve AND they’re being judged.

  12. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    The only chiropractors worth their salt: “Cats giving massage” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oh3aH6OaAXI.

    Can’t beat a cat for giving spinal manipulation.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      They do a pretty good job on the brain as well.

  13. darrelle
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I am not surprised. Wooers of all varieties very commonly cultivate the Suspicion Of The Evil Establishment meme and very commonly have little real evidence to counter criticism leaving ad hom and insults their defensive weapons of choice by default.

  14. Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    One advantage of many chiropractors is that waiting time for an appointment can be short, e.g. zero.

    Based on anecdotal evidence, I think chiropractors can help with back pain that can be relieved by massage.

    I think the big problem with chiropractors (aside from the fact that their theory is nonsense) is that so many want to do more than they can. Provide back pain relief through massage? Yes. Cure or effectively treat most other problems? No. The problem isn’t helped by the proliferation of chiropractors (three offices in two blocks in a small western city I visited?). The market for therapeutic back massage gets saturated.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Absolutely in line with my thoughts. They can help specific ailments with treatments that are common sense. But then comes the inflation of those modest results to making unsupported claims.

    • Posted March 2, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      As an example of “do more than they can”, a friend of my mother was into chiropractic and being treated for the “subluxations” that were causing her chest pain and other issues. Then she unexpectedly died of the lung cancer that the chiropractor had failed to diagnose beyond prescribing the usual walletectomy.

    • jimroberts
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      But wouldn’t it be cheaper as well as more reliable to go to a real masseur?

  15. Tamethyst
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Like how David Black said “organised” medicine. There you have it!

    • Diana Hook
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      He’s probably a Brit. British spelling uses “-ise” for the American “-ize” suffix.

  16. Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Under good placebo controlled trials, Chiropractic does not work except through placebo effects or just plain old physical therapy type responses. The philosophy that it is based on also has not been shown to be true.

    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/top-10-chiropractic-studies-of-2013/

  17. Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Also, many Chiropractors are anti vaccination. I’ve seen some suggest that manipulating newborns is a health treatment. Manipulation of the neck for sinus infections. Many also embrace homeopathy. Guilty by association.

    http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2013/04/chiropractic-the-more-research-we-do-the-less-reason-there-is-to-believe-it-works/

    That the public is enamored by them is no more proof that their treatment philosophies are true than all the people who check their astrology charts makes astrology true.

  18. Pippa Abston MD, PhD, FAAP
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Wilks vs the AMA came through when I was in med school in 1987– although it was a ruling only against the AMA, it was interpreted as an injunction against all of us, as individuals, to avoid disparaging chiropractors. I remember the uproar and being told in class that now we were no longer allowed to say anything negative about them. I think there is still some fear on that front among physicians– I don’t know if warranted or not bc I’m not a lawyer. Would be cool to have an attorney weigh in on this thread.

    I try to keep my patients away from them by explaining there are zero evidence based reasons for children to see one. Most of the parents follow my advice on that point.

  19. Ken
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I live in a rural part of Minnesota and there is one medical hospital and outpatient clinic operating in the community. The hospital/clinic has had a chiropractor on the staff in the outpatient services section for several years now. The town probably has a dozen or more chiropractors with their own practices and I suspect the hospital/clinic added one to keep patients asking for chiropractic services from going elsewhere. It seems very odd that they would “endorse” chiropractic in this way. Anything for a buck?

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      My own admittedly limited experience with the practice is that there are those who stick to common sense therapies that have a fair chance of providing relief, while letting the body do its thing. Perhaps those are the ones on the staff. My first experience with a chiropractor was of that sort. Stretching, heat therapy, and deep massage. It helped (temporarily).
      Then there are the various ones who are slightly wacko (that was my 2nd chiropractor), and others that are completely bonkers.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 2, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Well the first one you consulted sounds like what we (in NZ) would call physiotherapy. We have a lot of physiotherapists here (and their use is partly covered by ACC insurance, along with doctors).

        The one I went to did seem to be very well-versed about the nervous and musculo-skeletal system, and certainly showed no signs of woo.

        It did seem to help, though whether I would have got better just as quick without, I can’t say.

        (Herein lies one of the difficulties of statistical studies – back pain for example can be quite subjective (one person may rate it much worse than another), its causes can often be hard to pin down, so it must be very hard to tell whether the physiotherapy speeded the healing process or not).

        cr

  20. carpevita
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately many people I know believe that chiropractors are legitimate healthcare practitioners and have no idea of how little medical education they receive nor are they aware of the odd beliefs that persist within the chiropractic community. There may indeed be some practitioners that adhere to more evidenced based procedures. But how can one trust any chiropractor when the umbrella organization does not adhere to science based medicine? How can one trust an organization that doesn’t abandon procedures that are known not to offer any benefit and can cause real harm (albeit rare)?

    • Kevin
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      I’ve met at least one chiropractor who really doubted the whole chiropractor deal, but was stuck. He’s employed and his patients like him mostly for his empiricism in spite of the woo.

      Like there Clergy Project, maybe there should be a Chiropractor Project.

      • Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        Or something more general for pseudoprofessions.

      • Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        I guess he is quite helpful for his patients, some of which need specifically massage, some need more general placebo (as an above commenter said), and some need attention and sympathy.
        True medical professionals are typically too overworked to give sympathy to people complaining of chronic problems.

  21. Alan
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Letter from the founder of chiropractic, D. D. Palmer (1911):

    “You ask, what I think will be the final outcome of our law getting. It will be that we will have to build a boat similar to
    Christian Science and hoist a religious flag. I have received chiropractic from the other world..”

    http://www.chiro.org/Plus/History/Persons/PalmerDD/PalmerDD's_Religion-of-Chiro.pdf

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      Is that ever telling!

  22. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I don’t like to make light of those who cannot spell or use grammar, but when someone is claiming support from science and evidence based medicine, it does not raise confidence when they do not notice the numerous flags from their spell checker.
    Sad. Very sad.

  23. Billy Bl.
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    There’s a more important issue here. Why is it called “chiropractic” and not “chiropractics”, like paediatrics? It sure sounds like an adjective to me.

    • veroxitatis
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Could it be the difference between American and English usage? In the UK we speak of mathematics / maths, but in the US it seems to be math, as in “do the math”. Do Americans speak also of “mathematic”?

      • Billy Bl.
        Posted March 2, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        I’m a Canadian, but we say “mathematics” and “math”, not “maths”, and I’m pretty sure Yanks say the same. But you Brits say “drink driving”, so what do you know.😀

        • jimroberts
          Posted March 2, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

          I often drink enough alcohol that my driving ability would probably be impaired, without reaching a state reasonably described as drunk. So “drink driving” may well be made illegal short of the level of “drunk driving”.

          • jeremy pereira
            Posted March 3, 2017 at 3:58 am | Permalink

            I think the British alcohol limit is something like two pints of British beer. I am not drunk after two pints of beer so I would not be drunk driving. I would, however, be drink driving since I would be driving with some drink in my system.

            I think the British term is better because I’m sure that my driving ability degrades to the level of being dangerous well before the level of alcohol at which I actually feel (or behave) drunk.

            • HaggisForBrains
              Posted March 3, 2017 at 5:09 am | Permalink

              Be careful if you visit Scotland, whose legal limit has been reduced to 5/8 of the English limit. One pint could see you over the limit, depending on the usual factors. If I’m out for dinner, I limit myself to one small glass of wine. If not eating, it’s soft drinks only.

          • darrelle
            Posted March 3, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

            I once did a study on the effects of alcohol consumption on manual dexterity / hand – eye coordination. It involved a pen, a notebook, darts & a dart board, a bottle of Jim Beam and a boring day at home alone during college.

            • Wunold
              Posted March 4, 2017 at 1:44 am | Permalink

              And what were the results of the study?

              • darrelle
                Posted March 6, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

                I warmed up for several games 1st, then started recording scores of games of 301. At the beginning of each game I would take a shot of whiskey. I then made a plot of how many throws to complete a game vs shots of whiskey. Not a very well designed experiment, but fun!

                The results showed that my dart throwing stayed steady for a couple of games then improved rather markedly for at least 3 or 4 games / shots, and then things started going downhill . . .

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted March 7, 2017 at 1:38 am | Permalink

                I can well believe that. I’d hazard a guess that the first few shots of whiskey relaxed you just enough that the effects of nervousness or trying-too-hard were reduced and hence your aim reached its best possible, before the inhibiting effects if alcohol cut in.

                cr

  24. Posted March 2, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Heehee, those were good. I do not envy your comment section moderation nor your email inbox. But nonetheless, I wish to thank you for suffering through it. 😀

  25. veroxitatis
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    What these people have in common is an ability to speak Trumpian, ie. a stream of consciousness devoid of facts or logic. BTW, has anyone discovered who wrote Trump’s English essay that he addressed to Congress the other evening?

  26. Sastra
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Chiropractic is about one thing, removing nonproductive Resistance and restoring structural balance.

    It seems to me that appeal of chiropractic is in large part due to a form of the Naturalistic Fallacy: you would be perfectly healthy if it weren’t for all the stresses uniquely caused by an artificial, fast-paced, materialistic, mean-spirited modern life.

    Without modernism, most diseases wouldn’t exist. Every other ill ought to heal as easily as a minor scratch. When that doesn’t happen, then the fault lies in having gotten away from nature. The prescientific, pre-industrial age is usually visualized as happy, carefree, generous, and above all spiritual. We lived the way Spirit/God/Nature intended.

    A lot of alt med buzz words feed into this nostalgic, halcyon, unrealistic view of reality.

    • Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      True enough: most of back pain wouldn’t exist if our ancestors hadn’t succumbed to the weird idea to stand and walk on their hindlegs.

    • grasshopper
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Another modern conceit, if you like, is the lamentation that children should not die before their parents, a view not possible before the discovery of antibiotics and the rise of vaccines for childhood diseases.

  27. grasshopper
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Chiropractic is an invention. Not a discovery.
    Would you augment your existing took-kit with a left-handed screwdriver if you saw one on sale?

    • Randy schenck
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      The left-handed monkey wrench is very popular.

  28. Randy schenck
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    For everyone going to the Chiropractor, please stop by the book store and buy my book for $19.95, How to make millions flipping houses.

  29. Historian
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I find it interesting that my health insurance actually covers visits to a Doctor of Chiropractic for “Osteopathic manipulative treatment to any body region” and “Chiropractic spinal and/or extraspinal manipulative treatment.” I’m covered for 20 in-network visits a year, although I’ve never used this benefit and probably never will.

    • Wunold
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Health insurance is a business and as such it supplies what is demanded by their customers.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted March 2, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        Explain that statement to all over 65 years of age in the U.S.

        • Wunold
          Posted March 3, 2017 at 12:07 am | Permalink

          That’s another, unfortunate consequence of health care as a business.

          My point wasn’t that they will give anyone everything, but that the inglorious fact that many health insurances nowadays cover woo treatments doesn’t say anything about their effectiveness, to the contrary of the often heard argument from “alternative medicine” apologists.

  30. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Years ago, I had drinks with a chiropractic student who tried to ‘splain me the theory behind its healing powers (other than spine realignment, which I conceded). Didn’t make sense then; makes even less to me now.

    Reminds me of a similar conversation over drinks I had with a nationally prominent polygraphist, regarding the theory behind mechanical lie detection.

    Both practices lack any pretense to scientific cred.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 2, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      @Ken Kukec

      You write: “…the theory behind its healing powers (other than spine realignment, which I conceded)…”

      It it actually possible to realign the spine then? This is a genuine question – I’ve looked on the internet & can’t find an answer outside of the numerous claims of chiropractors/osteopaths

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 2, 2017 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

        Poor choice of words on my part; spine “manipulation” would be more accurate. I was conceding that manipulation the spine could have some efficacy for spinal problems, while chiropractic’s other health claims appeared to have no scientific basis.

  31. Wunold
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I find it very telling that most woo woo apologists tend to get upset very quickly. If they had real confidence and evidence for their positions, they could just present them without BIG LETTERS, subject changing, tu quoque and ad hominem arguments.

    One of my “favorite” arguments is pointing to the perceived adversary and its dark sides. They don’t get that even if they happen to be right, it doesn’t make their own claims better or more true (e.g. if “Big Pharma” is as bad as Ava & Co. say, chiropractic still is, too).

  32. J. Quinton
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    There must be some quirk in the human mind that makes all victims of pseudoscience and true believers utilize the same type of arguments.

    “just ask thousands of non biased REALPERSONS, who have actually been to other allied health professionals and were helped. SCIENTIFIC evidence???? Is there SCIENTIFIC un altered data on the drugs that are addicting chronic pain sufferers by the millions”

    This could be transposed effortlessly into either a Creationists’ polemic or an anti-vaxxers screed.

    They always claim that multiple people have been helped by their pet woo (prayer/not taking vaccines) — their ignorance of the scientific method thus made manifest — and then claim some sort of intentional and international conspiracy (all biologists are atheists/vaccines are in the pocket of Big Pharma) to denigrate the actual product of the successful execution of the scientific method.

    I’m willing to put money into the fact that just as many people have been healed by chiropractic as have been healed with prayer or homeopathic remedies.

  33. CFM
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    “Given up real medicine”? No. But at least in Germany, many orthopedists practice as chiropractics as well. The same is true concerning general practicioners or pediatricians, who often also practice homeopathy. Are they “believers”, is it about money, or do they feel that sometimes a placebo might be quite helpful? I do not know.

    Anyway, in my opinion, this mixing of professions tends to lend the woo part of their job way to much credibility. At the same time it is doubtless in many cases safer than visiting a “pure” quack, as these doctors, having received medical training, normally know when to turn to real medicine .

  34. David Jorling
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I spent 23 years in the City Attorney’s Office of Portland, Oregon defending the City of Portland’s self insured workers compensation claims. Much of the litigation I was involved in concerned the denial of chiropractic care for injured City workers. Much to its shame, the Democratic Party of Oregon advocated the normalization and acceptance of Chiropractic care in the State. This included legislation that allowed chiropractors to designate themselves as doctors and attending physicians in the Oregon workers’compensation system. They constructed a system that had a built in bias favoring Chiropractic care for years, where daily treatments for months, sometimes twice a day every day of the week, were the norm. This resulted in record time-loss payments for extended periods of time for all manner of subjective so called soft tissue injuries, and extraordinary costs associated with excessive treatment. (One case in point: a deposition wherein a chiropractor testified that he administered vaginal message to treat a neck injury.) Finally the legislature recognized that chiropractors were engaged in extensive over-treatment with little or no positive medical results, which included cases of fraud and abuse, so passed legislation that strictly limited their role in workers compensation cases. The chiropractic community, in my judgement, was one of the largest organized crime rings in Oregon, all made legal by the Democratic Party’s shameless endeavor to pander to a special interest, and to bow to the wishes of the unions that lobbied on their behalf.

    • Posted March 3, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      It seems to be a common thing in health plans. Even here in Canada, where a lot of good stuff is already covered (but not everything – physiotherapy, psychological services, many prescriptions and dental for example are omitted in most provinces), the supplementary stuff from many employers, including the federal public service, includes chiropractic. I regard this as defrauding the Canadian tax payer.

  35. Randy Sherwood
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    My ex had some serious back pain. She went to the chiropractor who recommended coming back weekly for work. He insisted it was nothing serious.

    It was a herniated disc. She ended up needing spinal fusion surgery.

  36. Michael
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    This has nothing to do with chiropractic, but since the original post was about a baby tiger and using woo on animals, I just want to say I am saddened that there is an animal hospital near where I live that actually supports acupuncture as “treatment” on cats and dogs. I’ve been to this animal hospital for my cats, and otherwise it’s a swell place from what I can tell. But I just wish they wouldn’t do this to animals that have no say.

  37. Diane G.
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m always amused to drive by the Kalamazoo office of chiropractor Dr. Bender…

    (http://www.kalamazoospine.com/dr.-dean-a.-bender)

    • jeremy pereira
      Posted March 3, 2017 at 4:04 am | Permalink

      He was designed to bend girders, so human spines should be easy, but watch your wallet.

  38. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 3, 2017 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    A few thoughts : “science should be as simple as possible, but not simpler” – and then Feynman on magnets (it’s one of those videos of him in the chair) – at some point he says “… but why does THAT work? We don’t know!”

    … perhaps I’ll leave that as a Moment of Zen for today.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted March 3, 2017 at 6:29 am | Permalink

      ^^^^ I apologize but that’s not direct quotes – it’s paraphrasefrom memory. Now I suppose I’ll have to find a link… thought it was from “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out” …

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted March 3, 2017 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      I can’t find a link. I thought it was this:

      … I’ll try to find it. I know I heard Feynman say it …

      • Wunold
        Posted March 4, 2017 at 1:58 am | Permalink

        I know I heard Feynman say it …

        Do you? 🙂 Memory is treacherous, see The Memory Illusion by Dr. Julia Shaw.

        I bought her book recently and I will start it when I’m done with the latest Witcher novel “Season of Storms” (excellent Polish fantasy). I already know some of her work from articles and interviews, though.

        • Wunold
          Posted March 4, 2017 at 2:00 am | Permalink

          Where is my blockquote gone? 😦 Maybe I mistyped it.

          I know I heard Feynman say it …

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 3, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Here’s the complete transcript of his 1983 BBC “Fun to imagine” programme:
      http://antoine.wojdyla.fr/assets/traductions/feynman_fun_en.html

      The sections are clearly headlined, magnets, electricity etc.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted March 3, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        Thank you!

        Now my life’s work is to find where he said that.. and if he said that.


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