How does applied kinesiology work, and is it ALWAYS a scam?
June 25, 2013 12:43 PM   Subscribe

I think I got scammed at the Chiropractor's office yesterday, but I don't understand how.

I've been having neck and back soreness for the last few months which has been giving me frequent headaches. I finally made an appointment with a chiropractor, with whom I also discussed other symptoms I've been having related to my low thyroid. He seemed very professional and MUCH more knowledgeable about nutrition and the endocrine system than the GP I had been seeing previously. But then near the end of the appointment, he said something like, "Before you go I'm going to do some quick neurologic tests on you to see if there are any systems that are particularly compromised." Then he had me lay on my back and press against his hand with either my arm or leg in various directions while having me touch various parts of my body with my other hand.

Now, I try to be as open minded as possible about all things without being naive, because it seems to me that being TOO skeptical/cynical results in skewed perspectives as often as gullability... But I couldn't help but think this practice seemed like quackery. That is, until the muscles in my arm suddenly turned to jello when he had me touch my pancreas. When I wasn't touching that area on my body, I could press against his hand just fine, but when I touched it again, my arm was completely weak again. Since then, I've read a lot of stuff online claiming Applied Kinesiology is nothing but a scam, but most of those articles chock it up to a parlor trick using "random" occurrences of muscle weakness. In my case, the Chiropractor went back and forth several times to demonstrate the difference in muscle weakness/ strength when I was touching my pancreas vs. when I wasn't, and the results were consistent each time. It seems to me that whatever was happening wasn't a random, and unless I just have no judgment of character whatsoever, I'm also pretty sure he wasn't TRYING to deceive me.

After reading about it online, I'm ready to accept that AK is bogus and I need to find a practitioner with a more scientific approach to wellness. But I'm still curious about what caused that "demonstration" to be so convincing.
posted by lmpatte2 to Health & Fitness (39 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It's also called muscle testing. I go back and forth about whether it is crap or not but the idea is that you're having a conversation with your subconscious mind/body.

Think of it like when something is bothering you but you haven't figured it out yet. All you know is when you think of situation X you feel a little funky. So then you ask yourself. Is it because of what they said? No, says the little feeling inside, that's definitely not why. Ok, was it because of how they looked at you? No says the little feeling, I'm pretty stable about those sorts of things. Ok then am I worried that I said something I didn't really mean? Yes! Yes that's it!! cries the little feeling, I was disobeying my authentic self. And voi-la now you know why you feel funky and you can fix the situation.

The NMT idea is that you're having a similar conversation with your physical body, using your muscle strength as a proxy for that "funky" feeling. Because what is an emotion but a neuro-response anyway.

As for a "real" scientific explanation, beats me.
(FWIW I measure pretty high on the woo-woo scale.)
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:53 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

It worked because your chiropractor is really good at scamming you.

I'm at work, so I don't have time to do a search right now, but take a look online for videos explaining how they do those demonstrations for magnetic healing bracelets (i-renew and the like). It's the same principle. The difference in the different "tests" is so subtle that you don't even notice. (I taught myself a few of the tricks in about 30 minutes a few years back so I could properly shame some of my family members who were all MAGNETIC BRACELET EHR MER GERD.)

Regardless of whether or not AK is bullshit, dude's a fucking chiropractor. He shouldn't be doing ANYTHING with your pancreas (or neurologic systems or meridians or whatever), and that alone should make you run the other way.
posted by phunniemee at 12:57 PM on June 25, 2013 [16 favorites]

what caused that "demonstration" to be so convincing.

You're feeling poorly and you're trying to find a reason why you're feeling poorly. So you may be susceptible to any suggestion that could indicate why you're feeling poorly. Or as both St. Peepsburg and lalchezia say - placebo. You could run what you learned from your chiro by a specialist and see what they say.
posted by macadamiaranch at 12:59 PM on June 25, 2013

What was the result of all this kind of quack-ish testing?

Did you give him money for some supplement he said you should take based on the pancreas thing? If it's just a thing he did, and it didn't result in you giving him money (or more than the co-pay or the visit cost or whatever), then no, it's not really a scam per se.

Did he tell you to take some other action based on the test? Does that benefit him in some way?

I once went to a chiropractor, and everything was great until he told me that I have severe rheumatoid arthritis in my spine and would need to come back several times a week for months, paying $100+ dollars per visit. I checked in with an actual MD friend of mine who told me this was pure bullshit and I'd be throwing my money away going back to him.

So if something like that happened, yeah, that's BS and you should get a second opinion before throwing a ton of money at this guy.

If it didn't result in anything or the treatment he suggested is free, then I dunno, whatever you're comfortable with, I guess. And keep an eye on the results, of course.
posted by Sara C. at 12:59 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

The googleable term d'art you're looking for is suggestion. It’s a very powerful effect where social pressure can make even people aware of it consciously alter their behavior or subconsciously create psychosomatic reactions, like the one measured, to conform to social expectation. The logical explanation for the muscle responses you observed but did not consciously create is that you subconsciously generated them to conform to the expectations that your tester had, allowing them to create exactly the effects they were looking for. This is indeed pretty spooky, but to dispel the spookiness I'd recommend trying to do it on yourself and see how well you can control the subconscious response with expectations alone and not conscious movement.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:02 PM on June 25, 2013

Response by poster: As for the placebo effect, I should mention that I had no idea what "systems" the trigger points he had me touch were tied to, so it's not like I thought I probably had a pancreas problem and then knowingly touched it while subconsciously expecting my arm to weaken. I also know I have a thyroid condition, but there was no weakness when he had me touch my thyroid, which he said surprised him. And the pancreas "finding" just caused him to recommend some dietary changes, so there was no money in that for him.
posted by lmpatte2 at 1:02 PM on June 25, 2013

Why don't you ask your healthcare provider for more specifics about your "systems?" Or why not simply visit a real doctor than can show you specifics with data?

Is your chiropractor a surgeon, too?
posted by oceanjesse at 1:09 PM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

Then he had me lay on my back and press against his hand with either my arm or leg in various directions while having me touch various parts of my body with my other hand.

The first part of this (muscle resistance against applied pressure) is a legitimate series of physical exams which check your responses for neurological issues, and which every single board certified neurologist has performed on me at every one of my (quarterly for the past 8-10 years) appointments with them.

The rest of what you experienced is bullshit. The scam worked because you walked in the door to this "medical" practitioner's office, and will continue working until you stop seeing this charlatan.
posted by elizardbits at 1:11 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Then he had me lay on my back and press against his hand with either my arm or leg in various directions while having me touch various parts of my body with my other hand.

The problem is that this isn't really a description of what happened. What he precisely did, the particular positions both you and he adopted when he made you press against him, the amount of force with which he resisted you, the exact angle of your arm or leg and so on, might well hold the key to the experience you had. For what it's worth, all pressure exerted by the arms and legs originates in the "core" muscles, because you obviously can't push without something to push against, Newton's third law of motion and all that; I wonder if the effect of moving to press on a particular point made it harder for you to exert the muscles that would normally support the movement of the limb.
posted by howfar at 1:13 PM on June 25, 2013

Did you ever pay him for his services? Yes? Ok, then there is money in it for him. You gave him your money, and he was all up in it.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:14 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

You weren't touching your pancreas either. You were touching your belly. In your belly is a whole host of things including but not limited to your stomach, your intestines, your liver and gallbladder. There is no way he knew what your hand was above.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:15 PM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Why don't you ask your healthcare provider for more specifics about your "systems?" Or why not simply visit a real doctor than can show you specifics with data?

Because my "real doctor" (like most real doctors) thinks saturated fat is unhealthy, that I should be consuming 6-11 servings of "healthy whole grains" every day, and has "never heard of supplemental iodine making a thyroid condition worse."

I know more about Hashimoto's than most "real doctors" just from reading articles on the internet. And that is pitiful.
posted by lmpatte2 at 1:16 PM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

I know more about Hashimoto's than most "real doctors" just from reading articles on the internet. And that is pitiful.

Then the answer is to find a good endocrinologist who actually knows something about thyroids (which some -- possibly many -- do not), rather than rely on a chiropractor. (As I speak as someone who had Hashimoto's before I had thyroid cancer, and who has also received benefit from chiropractic adjustments strictly for back and neck issues.)
posted by scody at 1:21 PM on June 25, 2013 [17 favorites]

Hi, lmpatte2, I don't know anything about Hashimoto's, but I do know a lot about having a medical issue most doctors are unfamiliar with. It's called Chiari. At least I've heard of Hashimoto's. Bet you've never heard of Chiari.

Anyway, there have only been two doctors in my entire life I've gone to see who haven't had to WebMD Chiari before starting in on my appointment. It's happened before that they've had the damn WebMD page OPEN on the computer right in front of me while asking me all the stupid questions about symptoms as if I've never heard them before.

I know what it's like to routinely know more about my condition than most of the doctors I see. I know how frustrating it is. (For those unfamiliar, IT IS VERY FRUSTRATING.)

lmpatte2, what you need is a specialist who specializes in Hashimoto's. This is probably going to be hard to find. It was really hard for me to find a specialist for Chiari. But I'm sure you can do much better than a chiropractor who is trying to make you think that he's talking to your pancreas.
posted by phunniemee at 1:27 PM on June 25, 2013 [12 favorites]

Oh, and a GP (if that's all you've seen) will definitely not know much about Hashimoto's or thyroid disorders in general; this is not because they're not real doctors (or are bad doctors), but because they are by definition very broad generalists. Any endocrinologist will know something about Hashimoto's, and an endo specializing in thyroids will know a lot. I can't tell from your remark about "real doctors" whether you've only seen generalists/internists up to this point, or if you've had any experience with specialists. If you'd like to post your location (even general area), it's possible someone may have a suggestion for a specific doctor.
posted by scody at 1:30 PM on June 25, 2013 [6 favorites]

Go to a GP or internist to get your pancreas checked out?

If you have insurance, a quick check-up is not a big deal. Then decide if you need a new chiropractor.

The problem is that many (not all) folks here do not support at least the possibility that alternative medicine can be effective, and the rest love to yell "Woo!" at the slightest opportunity. This is just like the rest of the Internet! I can find anything to support either side of this issue google, as can anyone else.

Go to a doctor and have some blood tests (or whatever) run to check the functioning of your pancreas. The Internet can't diagnose your health with our iDevices. Sorry.

Disclosure: I'm neutral on muscle testing (I don't see the harm) but I HATE chiropractors.
posted by jbenben at 1:32 PM on June 25, 2013

In terms of alternative medicine, I put more faith in a good acupuncturist over muscle testing. I have similarly mixed feelings about the practice and wouldn't trust a chiropractor for more systemic issues. However, I have been tested and experienced my muscles turning to goo in a way that I can't really explain. Maybe they're touching my arm differently? I have no idea. My sense was that *something* was happening, but that their explanation for it sounded like total BS. For the record, I was similarly given dietary suggestions.

That said, I went through a phase where I was open to being sold a placebo. I didn't see it as a necessarily bad thing, and had little faith in the medical establishment to really help me out. (It should also be noted that I don't have health insurance so the idea I could see a specialist is humor, at best.) I worked with some effin' quacks and the muscle testing people were among the worst, beaten out only by tapping sequences.

I have found that people who have dual MDs and NDs to be really helpful, and acupuncture is fantastic. If it is indeed a placebo, it is working 1000x better than the other things.
posted by ohisee at 1:34 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

From the outset, there was no reason to discuss thyroid symptoms or "the endocrine system" with him. He's a chiropractor. He simply has no expertise in that area.
posted by yclipse at 1:35 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you need a specialist, then find a specialist. I'd call some universities if you haven't already - waitlists for cutting edge practioners can take more than a year if your condition is rare enough.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:36 PM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: From the outset, there was no reason to discuss thyroid symptoms or "the endocrine system" with him. He's a chiropractor. He simply has no expertise in that area.

Being a chiropractor doesn't make someone ignorant about thyroid disorders any more than being a doctor makes someone an expert on them. And I have seen time and time again that most real doctors "have no expertise in that area." (Though I do plan to take the advice of those recommending here that I find a specialist.)

I've done enough of my own research to be able to tell when someone is knowledgeable about the thyroid or not. The fact is, when it came to hormones, he knew his shit. And THEN he revealed that he also happens to be a quack.
posted by lmpatte2 at 1:57 PM on June 25, 2013

Just because what this person did for you is quackery does not make him a quack. Like many practitioners of alternative medicine, he may be convinced (because some teacher performed them on him) that these "treatments" are effective. He may know plenty about your symptoms, especially because people with problems like yours are the ones who end up at alternative medical clinics. Unless it is backed up by peer reviewed clinical trials it's not scientifically viable, and in my opinion that means it won't actually help you. So the question you're asking "Is this a scam" is probably not the one you need to answer. You need to answer the question "How do I get treatment for this rare medical problem?" Whether this is a deliberate scam or a benignly harmless exercise isn't really the issue. There's good advice here about finding a specialist! Check that out.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:48 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: The fact that you've found one such person who happens to also be a chiropractor should not inspire confidence in his medical judgment any more than someone should believe that you - who are not a doctor - are a better source for medical treatment than their GP based on your internet knowledge of a niche medical subject.

My GP told me she had never heard of iodine supplementation worsening a thyroid condition, and that she "considers [herself] to be pretty knowledgeable about thyroid disorders." It is COMMON KNOWLEDGE among endocrinologists (and yes, some chiropractors) that with Hashimoto's disease, supplementing with iodine would be throwing fuel on the fire because it floods the body with more of the substance that is triggering the autoimmune attack. (Feel free to check on this.) But I guess I should have just bit my tongue and taken her advice, because she is a doctor after all, and what do I know...
posted by lmpatte2 at 4:13 PM on June 25, 2013

So you get a new GP. Or go to a specialist, because you are special.

I do not ask GPs how to treat my Chiari headaches because they will respond with: ¯\(°_o)/¯ have you tried taking some tylenol?

Does that mean my GP is a bad doctor and can't do things like diagnose strep throat and give me a basic physical? No, of course not. But it does mean I need to go somewhere else to get advice on my special disorder.

If the diet changes suggested by your chiropractor help you, THAT'S AWESOME. But I swear to you, it has nothing to do with the pancreas manipulations or whatever it was he says he was doing.

Your BEST chance to get real, lasting help with your Hashimoto's is to find an endocrinologist who specializes in Hashimoto's. I wish you nothing but good luck here. Not being able to treat a weird illness is one of the most helpless feelings ever.
posted by phunniemee at 4:23 PM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: But I swear to you, it has nothing to do with the pancreas manipulations or whatever it was he says he was doing.

I know.. I was just hoping someone would be able to enlighten me as to how he was able to perform his little magic trick. :) While I don't believe his explanation, I did find the experience fascinating.

Thanks for the well wishes and empathy... It's nice to hear from someone else who realizes that the title MD does not make a person a bottomless pit of up-to-date information about medical research.
posted by lmpatte2 at 4:37 PM on June 25, 2013

Response by poster: Just because what this person did for you is quackery does not make him a quack. Like many practitioners of alternative medicine, he may be convinced (because some teacher performed them on him) that these "treatments" are effective.

Good point. I did get the distinct impression that he sincerely believed what he was doing was legitimate. He's Mormon, for crying out loud... :) Seemed like a really moral and ethical guy, even if misguided.
posted by lmpatte2 at 4:42 PM on June 25, 2013

He was probably good at providing a convincing demonstration because chiropractors seem pretty damn good at performing convincing demonstrations. Additionally, many chiropractors are not above misrepresenting themselves in order to establish perceived credibility. Furthermore, many of the tests that they perform, though they are standard in chiropractic medicine, have been demonstrated even by chiropractic practitioners to have little reliability or validity; despite this lack of validity, they are presented as effective and common enough to be accepted as such.

This gets further complicated because there does seem to be, in fact, some evidence for the use of certain chiropractic techniques to treat lower back pain, but no evidence for all of the other unsubstantiated claims chiropractic practitioners make. So, you can have practitioners who used evidence-based treatments at the same time as they whip out all sorts of other pseudoscientific stuff, which gets to benefit from the aura, as it were, of the legitimacy of those few legit treatments.

Furthermore, this is even more wonky, because data shows that many patients are genuinely more satisfied with their chiropractic practitioners than they are with their doctors (though the effect seems to be related to their respective communication styles, as opposed to their treatment methodologies). So there is good word-of-mouth to prime your expectations.

I'd also like to observe that you've expressed some very strong opinions about doctors. Even when posters above agreed that your GP might not be informed enough to make qualified claims about Hashimoto's, which should lead you to seek out a endocrinologist who specializes in thyroid disorders, you basically assert that you are more educated and better informed than all medical professionals. You also seem to deride your doctor because s/he doesn't support (what seems to me) your preference for low-carb diets (even though, to be fair, such diets are still under a flurry of debate).

This is a sentiment that is actually very common, and I assure you that chiropractors are willing to capitalize it. Many people are not comfortable with evidence-based medicine because it conflicts with their cultural background, worldviews, or beliefs. Additionally, preference for alternative medicine seems to be connected to the de-centering of knowledge and power brought about by feminist and critical research. One perspective argues that discourses of well-being and alternative treatments are popular among many women (and, potentially, other marginalized groups) because they both provide a contrast to traditional health knowledge that places women in caregiver roles, thus providing an alternative space for women to instead care for and advocate for themselves, at the same time as they conjure up discourses related to traditional caregiving. I'd also observe that the de-centering of knowledge and power also coincides with increased professionalization of chiropractic practice: at the same time as we are more willing to consider personal, anecdotal, cultural, and contextual evidence, chiropractors have become more legitimate through the establishment of professional organizations, peer-reviewed journals (of wildly varying quality), and increased collaboration with doctors and hospitals - the medical practitioners you describe as "real doctors."

So, to sum it up: he was convincing because some of his practice is probably legit, though a lot of it is probably complete quakery, but he is well-rehearsed in presenting himself both as a professional (trained, educated, and to-be-trusted, a la "real doctors") and as someone who is willing to agree with your personal worldviews (as well as your own interpretation of complex or sham medical research), regardless of their accuracy, because he knows that doing so will further attract you to his methodologies, regardless of their actual efficacy. Additionally, there is also the issue of how regardless of your familiarity (or lack thereof) with his techniques, you are already more likely to accept alternative medicine because of how it supports your worldview. So there is definitely an interplay between the two of you that set the stage for him to seem "so convincing."

I am not a doctor. I am not a chiropractor.
This literature review was less systematic, and more on-the-fly.
I advocate for critical research that works towards the de-centering of knowledge.
But I also really dislike pseudoscience.

posted by sock puppet of mystery! at 5:07 PM on June 25, 2013 [24 favorites]

Response by poster: he was convincing because...he is well-rehearsed in presenting someone who is willing to agree with your personal worldviews...because he knows that doing so will further attract you to his methodologies, regardless of their actual efficacy. Additionally, there is also the issue of how regardless of your familiarity (or lack thereof) with his techniques, you are already more likely to accept alternative medicine because of how it supports your worldview.

Actually, I sought him out because I agreed with his views on nutrition, which are plastered all over his website. He wasn't simply "willing" to agree with mine. And alternative medicine actually does not align with my worldview any more than conventional medicine in general. The pseudoscientific muscle testing he performed was in direct conflict with my worldview, as I explained in my original post. I just wanted to understand how it happened, precisely because I am not enamored enough with alternative medicine to buy his explanation.

I certainly never asserted that I am "more educated and better informed than all medical professionals." I get my information directly from doctors and medical researchers through their publications. My problem with MOST conventional doctors is that very few of them stay up-to-date on medical research, and nearly all of the ones I've met have had an overabundance of confidence in their knowledge about subjects they have spent little to no time researching. It is unlikely that there is a single doctor in the United States who knows less about health in general than I do. But you should do some research to find out how much nutritional training is given to students in med school (as well as the tremendous influence that both the agricultural and pharmaceutical industries have on which studies see the light of day and which get buried) before you go insinuating that my assertion that I know more about nutrition than most doctors is grandiose. It doesn't take much.
posted by lmpatte2 at 5:41 PM on June 25, 2013

Mod note: Comment deleted. Hey guys, let's basically stick to answering the question rather than chatting about chiropractors in general or the OP's ideas about doctors, etc.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:58 AM on June 26, 2013

lmpatte2: I know more about Hashimoto's than most "real doctors" just from reading articles on the internet. And that is pitiful.
You are confusing "is not an expert on my particular, obscure disorder" with "isn't competent at general medicine."

That's grossly unfair to the General Practitioners of the world; it's like expecting your neighborhood mechanic to know the details of the fuel line filter on a '67 Astin Martin.

If you have a '67 Astin Martin, take it to an Astin Martin specialist. Don't take it to a couple of neighborhood mechanics (who can fix the clutch on any late-model American car just fine), and as a result decide that only a car whisperer can fix it.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:17 AM on June 26, 2013 [7 favorites]

Regarding How does applied kinesiology work and is it ALWAYS a scam ... I've practiced chiropractic for 36 years and for a 12year period during the late 80's early 90's I served as Research Advisory Chair for The International College of Applied Kinesiology. During that time, I also presented a lecture series- The Essentials of Applied Kinesiology in Clinical Practice - to chiropractic students from 5 chiropractic colleges. What I find interesting about the commentary that followed the original post, is that ... even with the explosion of interest in alternatives to allopathic medicine, chiropractic, certain aspects of osteopathy, homeopathy, acupuncture, naturopathy and clinical nutrition remain the subject of debate and controversy. Yes, there are many research questions yet to be answered, but there has been a concerted effort to address those questions. The research status of these alternatives offers the practicing clinician a wealth of science based therapeutic options. It is also important to note that chiropractic education is such that doctors of chiropractic are primary health care providers, trained in physical and laboratory diagnosis, radiology and the various basic and clinical sciences. There seems to be some confusion with regard to the differentiation between health problems that are "functional" and those that are "pathologic". Many within mainstream medicine are beginning to recognize the functional basis for headache, musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, digestive disturbances, asthma/allergies, learning disabilities, reproductive problems - to name a few! For the most part, medical specialists manage pathology or full blown disease processes. In my clinical experience, I've certainly been able to improve the quality of life for those who suffer from actual named diseases, but it is functional disorders that are the focus of chiropractic care and I am fairly certain that most of my colleagues would agree. The management of functional health problems does require a unique approach to physical and laboratory diagnosis and even the clinical history. Manual muscle testing is one part of that clinical decision making process and as I mentioned, there has been an ongoing effort to evaluate the reliability, neural mechanisms and clinical significance of muscle testing procedures. For those so inclined I would recommend and or the ICAKUSA website. Please know that I fully appreciate the natural and understandable skepticism when presented with the possibility that chiropractic health care might be useful in the management of (functional) endocrine problems, digestive disturbance, or any other health related problem beyond musculoskeletal pain. It is well beyond the scope of this commentary to delve into the neurobiology of spinal joint dysfunction and other related structural problems, but there is good science behind this aspect of health care and it's application does extend well beyond the management of neck and back pain. Applied Kinesiology dates to Dr. George Goodheart's original observations in 1964, where he utilized standard muscle testing procedures to evaluate postural distortions. Since that time we've learned a great deal about the role of muscle testing in the functional evaluation of the patient. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to add to the discussion ... Best Wishes ... Dr. Marc S. Rosen
posted by marcsrosen at 7:35 PM on June 28, 2013

marcsrosen: The research status of these alternatives offers the practicing clinician a wealth of science based therapeutic options.
If EVER there was a wiggle-word, "science-based" is the wiggliest wiggle-word of all.

My trashcan and recycling bags are FULL of things that are science-based. Doesn't mean you should use what you find in there to cure your lumbago.

"Double-blind tests showing statistically significant results, peer-reviewed in respected non-alternative-medicine science journals, and replicated by independent studies" is a non-wiggly phrase.

Report back when your arguments stop wiggling.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:34 PM on June 30, 2013

After reading the posted response by IAmBroom, the first "science-based" example that came to mind was published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics, (a well respected peer-reviewed journal indexed with index medicus), in this study - a manual therapy commonly utilized during cranial sacral therapy - was shown to improve blood flow in the lower extremities as measured by doppler . To those trained in cranial sacral therapy, a study such as this has widespread clinical applications. Another example ... the a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Pulmonology ... a double blinded - placebo controlled trial of a probiotics and childhood asthma/allergies. There was statistically significant improvement in the treatment group. Again ... this has obvious therapeutic applications. Aerobic exercise was shown to equal the therapeutic benefits of prescription antidepressants. Sorry ... the journal escapes me at the moment, but it wasn't an alternative health care publication. Yet again ... an example of something from the medical literature that can be of value in almost any clinical setting. A groundbreaking study was published in The International Journal of Neuroscience. The functional neurology of manual muscle testing was explored by somatosensory evoked potentials. For those who utilize manual muscle testing as part of a functional assessment, this study was quite meaningful. I remember reading about the thoracolumbar fascia and the role of the latissimus dorsi during lumbar flexion. A bit of science (in this case functional biomechanics) that greatly influenced my approach to back pain. An anatomist reported (again I am at a loss for the reference ... but it was indexed) a connection from the fascia of the iliotibial band through to the medial knee. That bit of science alone has changed my approach to knee problems. While I agree wholeheartedly, that research published in peer-reviewed indexed journals is an absolute must ... you would rarely discover a scientific bit of information in my trashcan or recycling bag ... until that is ... that I found a way to apply that information to my clinical practice. I suppose that I should have begun by writing that by "science-based" I was referring to the totality of scientific research and not just double blinded trials, as those trials apply to some but not all therapeutic modalities. And so ... I disagree ... there is a way to use published scientific information in day to day clinical practice that sometimes extends beyond blinded clinical trials. I look forward to our future dialog ... I think!!!!!!
posted by marcsrosen at 9:34 AM on July 3, 2013

As for the placebo effect, I should mention that I had no idea what "systems" the trigger points he had me touch were tied to, so it's not like I thought I probably had a pancreas problem and then knowingly touched it while subconsciously expecting my arm to weaken

Wait, so you're basically just taking him at his word that the "trigger point" he had you touch had something to do with your pancreas, and was not, say, a point that happened to put your arm into a position where you wouldn't be able to move it easily?
posted by kagredon at 10:43 AM on July 3, 2013

marcsrosen, you sure did paste a lot of words... without one single citation. You did manage to name some journals, some of which are respected by medical science as promoting genuine medical research (not including the chiropractic ones, of course).

Here, let me name some articles that disprove those you mentioned. There's one in the New England Journal of Medicine, a few years back. One was published in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences. I remember reading about how kinesiology was found to have no measurable effects whatsoever, in either the European Journal of Palliative Care or the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. There's also a fascinating article by a surgeon that supports this work.

There! Now we've both "mentioned" scientific research. As my references have clearly debunked all of the ones you referenced, I think the burden of proof is back on your shoulders.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:32 AM on July 3, 2013

Mod note: marcsrosen, IAmBroom, this is not going to become the home for an extended exchange between the two of you. Please take it to mefimail if you want to keep going back and forth on this.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:26 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: A couple comments removed. Again, cut it out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:52 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: A couple of comments deleted. This isn't the place to have a general discussion of the AMA vs Chiropractic, definitely not the place to talk about other posters "salivating for an opportunity to defame." Please don't sign up just to argue in this thread.
posted by taz (staff) at 8:32 AM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would like to offer some insight if I may.
Contrary to popular opinion, most muscle tone is not controlled by the brain. It is controlled by a reflex called the myotatic reflex (the one that controls the knee-jerk reflex). This reflex regulates many of the 10,000 presynaptic inputs which summate to cause the anterior motor neuron to fire (generating a muscle contraction). This reflex creates facilitation or inhibition at the motor neuron, allowing appropriate, controlled (and almost completely subconscious) muscle action. It is this reflex that will stop you falling on your face when you jump off a chair as sensors within the quadriceps muscle (muscle spindles) activate the quadriceps and it's synergists with exactly the correct amount of response to the incoming force. It is the controlled application of an external force that is the essence of what the applied kinesiology practitioner did to you the day of your examination and it was to ascertain whether your muscles were facilitated or inhibited.
Inhibition is the result of an abnormal sensory input. A tack in the foot produces facilitation (contraction) of the flexors and inhibition (weakening) of the extensors on the ipsilateral side and the opposite on the contralateral. The withdrawal reflex is not limited to a pain response but may be active whenever sensory receptors are stimulated, as in tickling. In the example of jumping off a chair, the landing will be sabottaged if we land in bare feet on broken glass, in which case the withdrawal reflex overrides the myotatic reflex and we land on our face. It is also important to realise that in a closed mechanical system, muscle action anywhere can produce synergistic or antagonistic action even in distant muscles.
Although the internal structures of organs have no sensory nerves, the capsules do, so appendicitis, kidney stones, pancreatitis and cholecystitis can all produce reactions in skeletal muscle. When a practitioner presses into the area of the pancreas there should be no inhibition of skeletal muscle. If a muscle is inhibited it is a reasonable assumption, based on the physiology explained in every textbook, that the pancreas may be experiencing a degree of inflammation.
It is a shame that the application of principles known for 100 years (since Sherrington outlined them in 1903) would cause anyone to think they had been scammed. I hope this explanation will help you better understand your experience.
posted by siking at 2:28 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

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