Quack-proof chiropractic treatments
January 16, 2009 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know which medical journals, books, or online sources are credible for research on chiropractic treatments?

It seems a lot of chiropractors have recieved criticism for their quackery. Any physicians out there know a better source of information on the topic of curing back pain and improving posture? Are back braces still considered an important part of the treatment?
posted by johannahdeschanel to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For posture-related pain relief I've always used (and recommended) The Egoscue Method. Not a huge fan of their marketing and Egoscue himself rubs me the wrong way, but it's really helped me out with a number of running-related injuries and I think it could probably help a lot of people.
posted by PFL at 1:31 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

journal of chiropractic medicine
the chiropractic journal

american chiropractic association
international chiropractic association

but your question seems to have two parts, and you seem inclided to think chiropractor = quack. perhaps you'd like to clarify?
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:31 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have you considered going to a MD or DO, getting a script and working with a physical therapist who specializes in your type of back problem? That is the course I would recommend. I just wouldn't risk something as dear as my health or the condition of my back to a professional I already assumed to be a quack. (rhyme unintentional)
posted by vincele at 3:23 PM on January 16, 2009

Chiropractor = quack

There's little medical evidence that chiropractic produces any long-term benefits. I've known people that say them for years and then saw a real doctor or physical therapist and within 6 months were feeling tons better.

And they call themselves "doctor". Lots of people call themselves "doctor" if they have a PhD, but in a medical environment, "doctor" conveys (at least historically) a certain level of medical training and knowledge. Which chiropractors don't have.

There's little to no regulation about what procedures they perform. There's little to no evidence that what they do really works.

In fact, there's an increasing concern that chiropractors can liberate blood clots in people.

Here's the state of the art in chiropractic research: http://www.worldchiropracticalliance.org/positions/positionpapers.htm

And no, I'm not a doctor.

posted by reddot at 3:27 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

As someone who used to work in a chiropractor's office, I can assure you that "chiropractic" is first and foremost about money-making. I agree heartily about the wrongness of chiropractors calling themselves "doctor". Going to a chiropractor for a serious physical problem is like going to a fortuneteller to seek help for manic-depression.
posted by Jess the Mess at 3:46 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

FWIW, chiropractors are state licensed doctors who can be sued for malpractice, just like MDs. As a way to frame your expectations it might be helpful to you to consult your state laws to see what their scope of practice is where you live.
posted by quarterframer at 3:47 PM on January 16, 2009

Some chiropractors think they are doctors, and think they can cure disease by doing back adjustments. Here's some background.
They also claim they can't cause strokes. My mom, a neurologist, disagrees. She says in ERs, for certain types of strokes, one of the questions they always ask is about recent chiropractic neck adjustments. Please, if you go see a chiropractor, don't let them twist your neck.
I'm not sure whether chiropractic adjustments do any more good than rest and a proper massage.
posted by ysabella at 12:54 AM on January 17, 2009


Calling chiropracters "doctors" is like calling common thieves "household re-appropriation experts."

Common thieves is what most of them are. And quacks. They can hurt you. And they only care about your money. Their "science" is anything but -- like homeopathy it is based on a thoroughly discredited model of pathogenesis rooted in 19th century pseudo-science. Students who attend chiropractic college are scraped from the bottom of the academic barrel -- they will take almost anyone who can pay, with no pre-med requirements.

Some of them do a decent job at massage therapy, but you'd be safer and better off seeing a real physical therapist or masseuse for the same benefits. They have no magic, no science, no understanding of the causes of your pain or your disease. Chiropractic is pure, unadulterated bullshit.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:45 AM on January 17, 2009

Whether you choose chiropractic or not, I think it's worth mentioning a few things that have not been brought up. Accredited chiropractic colleges require biology, chemistry, organic chem, bio-chem, physiology, gross anatomy, radiology, differential diagnosis, etc. Chiropractors (in the U.S.) have to pass 4 part national board exams to be licensed.
All of which is to say that a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C) does have a scientific foundation. You might argue that the theory of subluxation (which is the most problematic aspect of chiropractic, in my opinion) is non-scientific, but that's different than implying chiropractors are ignorant and/or improperly educated.

Chiropractors aren't taught that they can cure disease by doing adjustments (aka manipulation). They believe adjustments can relieve pain and help the body to heal itself. If an individual chiropractor tries to tell you that chiropractic adjustments cures disease then that's probably not the one you want to see. Their scope of practice is state-regulated and and is usually restricted to musculoskeletal.

The wikipedia article does a more even-handed job of laying out the current state of knowledge regarding chiropractic.

As noted in that wikipedia article quoted below, the correlation between strokes and chiropractic is more nuanced than what has been presented here. All the chiropractors I have visited (which is only 2, so your mileage may vary) have included a form that mentions the stroke risk.

"Rarely,[18] spinal manipulation, particularly on the upper spine, can also result in complications that can lead to permanent disability or death; these can occur in adults[16] and children.[121] The incidence of these complications is unknown, due to high levels of underreporting and to the difficulty of linking manipulation to adverse effects such as stroke, which is a particular concern.[16] Several case reports show temporal associations between interventions and potentially serious complications. Vertebrobasilar artery stroke is statistically associated with chiropractic services in persons under 45 years of age, but it is similarly associated with general practitioner services, suggesting that these associations are likely explained by preexisting conditions.[101] Weak to moderately strong evidence supports causation (as opposed to statistical association) between cervical manipulative therapy (whether chiropractic or not) and vertebrobasilar artery stroke."
posted by aperture_priority at 9:50 AM on January 17, 2009

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