Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Chiropractic Subluxation Myth

After reading Vertebral Subluxation Theory used in Chiropractic therapy, I was amazed that people who believed in such obvious non-scientific claptrap, could be considered part of mainstream medicine.

I had never really looked into Chiropractic practice in Australia, but was sure that subluxation theory was not commonly practiced in Australia. Unfortunately, this week my local newspaper proved me wrong.

Subluxation theory was started by DD Palmer in his 1910 book and states that there are subluxations of the spine that pinch on nerves, that then cause illness. If you can remove the subluxations of the spine, then the bodies innate intelligence (i.e. soul, spirit or energy force) will then be able to flow and cure the damage caused by the subluxation.

There are a few glaring holes in this theory that Chiropractors choose to ignore.

  1. No-one has ever been able to locate a "subluxation" through X-Rays, MRI or any other diagnostic test. (Apart from Chiropractors of course, who see them everywhere)
  2. No-one has ever been able to locate or record the innate intelligence (life-force) that allows the body to be healed.
  3. Subluxation theory says the spine is responsible for ALL illnesses. According to that theory, germs do not cause disease. Everything is caused by your back.

This third point leads many Chiropractors to oppose vaccinating children against common childhood diseases. After all, why vaccinate against germs, when cracking the back will cure measles, mumps, chickenpox etc.

It was hard to miss the full page advertisement that included a Vertebral Subluxation and Nerve Chart. There is a list of illnesses including allergies, insomnia, influenza and constipation. Importantly, to get around the legal ramifications, they claim that they have never healed anyone. They adjust the spine so that the body can heal itself.

After the reduced price consultation (available for 14 days only) they advise that their further care is very affordable and offer affordable family plans using natural corrective chiropractic.

The list of benefits: "more energy, reduces headaches & migraines, less aches & pains, greater flexibility, spinal strengthening, less back pain and boost immune system". I would have been disappointed if boosting the immune system wasn't included. It is the claim of every SCAM treatment, but they can never say how, because they have no idea of how the immune system works."

I may visit this local chiropractor and collect some literature from his office and ask a few questions. It would be interesting to see how much of this baloney the chiropractor actually believes. He should be easy to find, the office is on Palmer St. How appropriate.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."


At Tuesday, September 14, 2004 11:43:00 pm, Blogger Xanthippas said...

That's really interesting. I'm not familiar with this particular "technique" of chiropracty, but I do have an entire host of in-laws who have been converted to chiropracty. While I must admit that the chiropractor seems to have helped them in some ways, I think mostly what he's done is gotten them to eat right and take care of themselves, which is probably something they could do without paying to see him once every week.

At Wednesday, November 10, 2004 8:43:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, the subluxation claptrap is still in use in Canada and the U.S. I don't know how anyone can take anything a chiropractor says who espouses this silly 'theory' seriously! You could make an equally valid claim for 'space aliens' causing all manner of disease as the imaginary 'subluxation'. In Canada chiropractic 'treatments' are even partially covered by our various provincial health plans, despite their unproven claims and underlying 'theories' and their adoption of even more disreputable 'therapies' and 'disagnostic methods' such as homeopathy and iridology!

At Tuesday, October 25, 2005 4:44:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are making gross generalizations. A lot of chiropractors do not take this theory that seriously. They also advise their patients to get vacinated. Also what they do take serious is research involving manipulation. What is interesting is that much this research which validates Chiropractic is from standard medical journals.

For Example:

Chiropractic care has been shown to be the most effective method for improving and providing long-lasting quality of life for back-pain sufferers.

See Cost effectiveness of physical treatments in primary care UK Beam Trial (Andrea Manca) British Journal of Medicine Journal 2004;329:1381 December 11, 2004.

Some of the most recent studies about chiropractic are not only showing how effective it is, but also how chiropractic treatments can help to lower overall health expenditures. This is being achieved by reducing the need for expensive diagnostic procedures, surgeries, and other health related costs.

See Comparative Analysis of Individuals with and without Chiropractic Coverage Patient Characteristics, Utilization, and Costs. Archives of Internal Medicine. October 11, 2004;164:1985-1992

Chiropractic Manipulation - In head to head comparisons with conventional medicine, Chiropractic care has been shown to be the best choice.
For example in 2003, the Journal of Spine, the most prestigious medical journal published by the American Medical Association found that Chiropractic manipulation was five time more effective than the drugs Celebrex or Vioxx. This was a randomized clinical trial under the highest level of scrutiny.
Chronic Spinal Pain: A randomized clinical trail comparing medication, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation, Spine July 15, 2003;28(14):1490-1502

Research shows that chiropractic is significantly safer than comparable pharmaceutical and surgical treatments, and produces far fewer (4,000 times fewer) negative side effects. To further understand chiropractic's effectiveness, the Canadian chiropractic profession is currently involved in additional research to further examine neck adjustments. Recent research conducted at the University of Calgary, demonstrated that neck adjustment is done well within the neck's normal range of motion; that no force is
applied to arteries during an adjustment; and that arteries are not stretched during adjustment.

Internal forces sustained by the vertebral artery during spinal adjustment therapy, Herzog W, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics,
Oct. 25(8): 504-20, 2002.

At Saturday, November 12, 2005 11:38:00 pm, Anonymous Stefaan Vossen said...

I sometimes wonder whether the people who call the subluxation theory "claptrap" actually have any understanding or knowledge of the item or any understanding of what science actually is.
Firstly all which we hold on so dearly and call "modern science", the bench-mark of our evolved humanity, is merely a collection of theories and assumptions at various stages of testing which are all (no exceptions) based on the premises outlined at the end of the 17th century by the philosophers of the day and under continous review. I think you may know a few of the people involved in deciding what modern science is, Newton, Boyle anyone?
Secondly it is a mere show of ignorance and lack of education (as I do not wish to insult your intelligence) to believe that all which is true is proven or can at the current level of scientific knowledge be proven. I sure agree that it is tempting to believe that we are at the pinnacle of human development... a tat arrogant maybe?
Thirdly if you do not believe in Innate, then open your sodding eyes. Whenever you cut, whenever you bruise, a fractured bone, a torn ligament.... Innate is a name, the name the founder of the chiropractic profession chose to give the bodies' ability to heal itself. Everyone in the healing arts believes in Innate (yes even your surgeon), they just call it something else, or don't think about it at all. I think (personally) it is a bit of a fruitless intellectual excercise to name and rename the same thing, but it is what the man chose to do, most probably to further the identification of the profession, so we are now stuck with it. Most importantly on this last subject, identifying this in-born ability to heal itself and placing in at the centre of the art (named "innate"in order to distinguishit from that which is brought in from the outside) is crucial to maintaining integrity and clarity in regards to what the importance of the practitioner is, i.e. for doctors not to become arrogant little shits who think they are everything in the universe- basically an in-built excercise in humility.
Finally the same applies to the term subluxation-appaling choice of words-but the man who named it named it such, only very unfortunate that the word was spoken for and has an entirely different meaning in medicine.
In essence, chiropractic theory says that disease, illness, dysfunction, pain etc. are caused by lots of things (amongst others the (scientically proven) pathophysiological process resulting from abnormal neurological function, which we now know is what DD Palmer called subluxation). Other causes of problems are trauma (physical and chemical), infection, mental disorders. Now, and this is the shocker, the assumption chiropractic theory makes is that by removing the presence of any "additional" problems like interference on normal neurological function and normal bodily healing ability, one increases the likelyhood of recovery from disease or disorders. Very much like taking away the hand which scratches the scab and reopens the wound...
Finally, ofcourse virusses and bacteria exist, and ofcourse they cause disease. Some of them are that far evolved that they have developed systems to completely fool the bodies' ability to overcome disease (retrovirusses), but chiropractors work from an ideology that the world can be perfect and beautiful and all people are equal and can eat and clothe themselves (and to the more astute blogger who understands that I am now referring to the clearly observed socio-economic descripancies in the distribution and frequency of disease, congratualtions). In that world there is far less disease and suffering and the little suffering which is left could (in theory) be attributed to a faulty genetic heritage (although that too is now under review with the latest developments surrounding epigenetics) or an inabilty to cope with the stressor imposed on the body. This latter scenario is the one which concerns chiropractors,as those stressors are either excessive (in which case you need to remove the person from it asap-the basis behind dietary and excercise advise) or the body cannot deal with the stressor because it is relatively speaking weakened to a point it cannot overcome it. That weakening, that inability to cope with certain stressors in certain circumstances is what chiropractors call a subluxation. It is a crap term and it is poorly explained in the writings of the man Palmer, but hold that against the chiropractic profession at your own peril for it only means that your inability to forgive and old and occasionally disturbed man at the turn of the last century for his lack of semantic descripancy and scientific knowledge (aah hindsight), will stop you from enhancing your health in this, sometimes slight and descreet, sometimes dramatic and overwhelming way.
Peace, love and chiropractic
Stefaan Vossen, DC

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At Wednesday, November 21, 2007 1:00:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If, like me, you can't stand the pain of chiropractic treatment, and you are looking for an effective, long term remedy for your back problems, then may i suggest a new mattress (or to be more specific – an orthapedic or memory foam mattress)
There are a whole range of specialist mattresses aimed at correcting posture and in turn alleviating back and neck pains. The benefits are long-term and you don't need to regularly visit [and pay!] some heavy handed therapist to relieve the pain! i recently purchased an orthopedic memory foam mattress, and i can report, that after a fortnight sleeping on it, i wake up feeling much better than i did when i slept on my old mattress. One may jump to the conclusion that such specialist mattress prices are high; however, if you look hard enough, you can find cheap orthopedic mattresses out there. If you are dispirited by the expense, just think of the long term benefits for your health, and the lack of future visits to your heavy handed therapist!!

At Monday, May 05, 2008 5:38:00 am, Blogger Mags said...

I receive regular chiropractic treatment and have done for a couple of years now.It is the best investment I have ever made. My health has improved dramatically, I take fewer pain killers,I can walk quite a distance now, which was an impossibility before,I don't have so many headaches and I can now plan my days in advance, which I was unable to do previously, because not knowing how severe the pain would be on any given day made planning anything an impossibility. I purchased an expensive orthapedic mattress, it didn't help. I was refered to the hospital, after being passed from one consultant to another the conclusion was they couldn't help me and I had to learn to live with the pain.
Then I went to see my Chiropractor and haven't looked back since. He has never given up on me and has persevered with me and my many spinal problems. For which I shall always be grateful. I would recommend Chiropractic care to anyone without hesitation. It is definitly money well spent.

At Thursday, May 29, 2008 6:33:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not the back or spinal cord that directly causes illness, the misalignment of the spine causes the central nervous system not to function properly which, in turn, does not allow the body to function as well as it should.

I agree, a lot of this seems generalized. Of all the research I have done regarding the pros and cons of chiropractic care, the negative reviews come across as very miseducated and biased whereas the positive reviews are much more convincing and fact-based. I have heard few bad things (primarily from people who only went once when you are supposed to continue treatment) and many, many good things about chiropractic care. I have just started chiropractic treatment, so I have not formed my own opinion on the practice quite yet. But it certainly makes more sense to me than going to a doctor time after time and getting doped up on meds only to relieve the problem temporarily.

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At Wednesday, May 19, 2010 4:07:00 pm, Anonymous chiropractor calgary said...

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At Friday, April 15, 2011 3:17:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me it’s about principal and ethics that I feel the need comment. I had a horrible experience at 360 chiropractic care in Frisco, Texas. Thank you for posting this information, I almost believed what this quack had to preach, couldn’t sleep at night thinking, my god, my neck is decaying and how I’d find the time to see this cat 3x a week then my gut went off and I realized it was a scam. Upon research I realized I was not alone, thank you very much for blogging about this it will help others who stumble across this money making scare tactic scam.

I went in for a pinched nerve, I had a BAD knot in my back, tried to rub it out on my night stand and ended up giving myself a pulled muscle, ha, ha. Not sure if you’ve ever had that, no time for a massage and tried to do a SELF massage which backfired.

I had been taking Advil every 4 hours for a day straight and thought this isn’t healthy, let me see a CHIRO and see what he can do. He took x-rays @ his office etc. Wanted me there the next day, I could not due to my work schedule, came the following week, didn’t even ASK about my back/knot or pulled muscle, or how I was feeling (although ironically it worked itself out) then tells me I must see him 3x a week because my neck (not back) had a build up (like tarter on a tooth) and if I didn’t get my neck popped 3x’s a week for the next 2 months it might be fatal, that is called a SCARE tactic, this subluxation myth is all over the internet.

I had a great chiro in LA who said come whenever you want relief but never tried to get me there 3x a week. She also had me go to a radiologist at UCLA hospital to get my xrays done and she saw no degeneration part 1 or 2 and now according to this guy a year later I have subluxation degeneration phase 3, really? he took these x-rays in his office, I question the authenticity. Thank you for spreading awareness now if we can just convince the medical profession this is a joke we’ll be set.

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At Thursday, August 27, 2015 1:34:00 pm, Blogger Unknown said...

You are simply ignorant and have a chip on your shoulder because you couldn't get into allopathic medical school and learn what the entire world now calls "evidence based medicine." Hilarious how you neglected to quote a single scientific study. Pseudoscience clouds the
mind of those who refuse to accept evidence.

At Thursday, August 27, 2015 1:36:00 pm, Blogger Unknown said...

Hahahaha. This is hilarious. Quote ONE reputable study to prove this.

At Thursday, August 27, 2015 1:37:00 pm, Blogger Unknown said...

A chiropractor is an expert in the field of nonsense.

At Thursday, August 27, 2015 1:38:00 pm, Blogger Unknown said...

Hahahahha. You're wrong

At Tuesday, December 01, 2015 4:35:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Palmer was a magnetic healer before the start of chiropractic. The theory of subluxation is nothing but utter made up nonsense. No more real than a Christian Scientist healing a bone sticking out the side of a leg with prayer. Not one study anywhere shows that this theory is real. Not one. Manual manipulation of the back for relief of back pain is real, and has been around in real science based medicine since before Palmer. Physical therapy is real, and is today and major part of mainstream medicine. What isn't is the nonsense of subluxation theory that only chiropractic clings to. Remove this nonsense theory and they is no reason for chiropractic to exist. And, be sure of this, the DCs know it. That is why the DCs are moving into the world of alternative medicine. A place where science based medicine will never go, since none of it is based on science and data.

Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, DCs are quacks with the exception of the few DCs that reject the theory of subluxation and only treat back pain with manipulation. The ones that don't are 100% quacks that steal from people too stupid to know a scam when they see one.

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