Chiropractic quackery and whether it works

Chiropractic Medicine for Complete Idiots

This past weekend I was on top of an extremely sketchy and rather high roof that had a measure of buoyancy in it.  I was about to try and conquer a fear and rappel off the side of a brick building about fifty feet high.  To help dissipate the mounting fear and hyperventilating I was rapidly experiencing I started speaking to a couple of colleagues about chiropractors and what they do.

I asked two colleagues something to the effect of “isn’t chiropractic ‘fake’ medicine”, and told them that I’d been told by some very qualified people that chiropractors are engaged in quackery.

The best summary of chiropractice I could find was from Dr. Thomas Ballantine, Harvard Medical School who said:

The confrontation between medicine and chiropractic is not a struggle between two professions. Rather it is more in the nature of an effort by an informed group of individuals to protect the public from fraudulent health claims and practices.

Let’s be real – chiropractic therapy was founded by what seems to be a quack.  Daniel David Palmer1 apparently healed a deaf man by repositioning a vertabrae in his spine, then some time after that he healed someone with heart trouble using the same technique.  Apparently Palmer also claimed that 95% of all diseases were caused by displaced vertebrae, and invented a new word – ‘subluxation’ which he used to describe ‘a displacement of the spine’.

There are some things about chiropractic2 that I’ve recently found out. Someone with a DC after their name is NOT a medical doctor.  That is a fact.  Whilst they might have a ‘Doctor of Chiropractic’ degree – they simply are not doctors in the commonly accepted meaning of the word.

For a profession that was founded by a quack who was murdered by his own quack son responsible for spreading the quackery it seems rather silly to put faith into something that is no more effective than therapeutic exercise, more expensive and FAR MORE risky. It is a fact that you can die from going to a chiropractor as did Laurie Mathiason.

Laurie Mathiason was a 20-year-old Canadian waitress who visited a chiropractor 21 times between 1997 and 1998 to relieve her low-back pain. On her penultimate visit she complained of stiffness in her neck. That evening she began dropping plates at the restaurant, so she returned to the chiropractor. As the chiropractor manipulated her neck, Mathiason began to cry, her eyes started to roll, she foamed at the mouth and her body began to convulse. She was rushed to hospital, slipped into a coma and died three days later. At the inquest, the coroner declared: “Laurie died of a ruptured vertebral artery, which occurred in association with a chiropractic manipulation of the neck.”

The British Chiropractic Association sued Simon Singh for an article he wrote3 because he said they happily promote bogus treatment.  They lost.  This is the same organization that claimed chiropractic could heal asthma and infant colic.

After it’s proved that chiropractic can be deadly… would you really let someone do the same thing to YOUR child?

  1. Wikipedia Article on Daniel David Palmer 

  2. Chiropractor vs Doctor – Difference and Comparison 

  3. Beware the spinal trap 

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