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Examples of dubious subluxation-based practices, and questionable advice, treatments, claims and promotions.
Comment by Dr Laurie Tassell, President of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia, 2011 [PDF - see p.13]
“Inspired by a visit to Disneyland this paper explores the challenges associated with the need to teach something that may not exist…perhaps the entire profession of chiropractic is a ‘bizarre fiction’ with no substantive grounding. If so, what is the basis for anyone being a chiropractic academic? In writing this paper the content preceding the point was shared with an academic colleague of the writer. The colleague is a learned man with qualifications in chiropractic and philosophy and suggested the writer should stop wasting time and simply accept that the subluxation exists…as long as we lack a technological means to generate quantitative evidence of the subluxation and its effects on human function, there is little option other than to rely on an intelligent use of language within a true context of philosophy to encapsulate the discipline’s beliefs…it matters not whether the subluxation is a tangible clinical entity with physical dimensions or a mental creation; what does matter is that the statements used to describe it are in themselves true.” Ebrall, P., Chiropr J Aust 2009, 39: 165-70. [NB. The author of the paper, Phillip Ebrall, the former Head of Discipline, Chiropractic, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, is now setting up a ‘Bachelor of Science’, chiropractic degree at the Central Queensland University (Mackay) due to commence 2012.]
“In most offices, a patient won’t even be adjusted on the first visit because the chiropractor will profess a need to ‘study the x-rays and exam findings’. That’s a flat out lie!...They won’t adjust you on the first visit because they want to prepare anticipation and a little anxiety for the next visit. They will also tell you to bring in your spouse or significant other for something called the Report of Findings or what I call The Big Sales Pitch, which usually involves the chiropractor comparing a patient’s personal x-rays to ‘normal’ ones. It’s then followed by an attempt to frighten the patient into a something called ‘Corrective Care Plan’, which could be a year long program that involves multiple office visits at $35-$55 each. Sometimes the office will try to sell one-year package that could be $2000 or $3000 or more for just one person. The question you have to ask is what it would cost to go to any other chiropractor for one person, for one adjustment, for one time?”
Illustrates the grandiose claims made by chiropractic's developers, particularly the experiences and theories of chiropractic's founder, Daniel David Palmer. [PDF]
A textbook by another of chiropractic's early leaders which also illustrates chiropractic’s grandiose claims. [PDF]
Contains a fascinating collection of ads and other promotional items, some of which are still used today by "straight" chiropractors. [PDF]
“Could you benefit from proven strategies that enable you to build your 'Epic' practice where you adjust 17 - 23 hours per week, have an abundance of new patients, serve lots of ideal patients every week (that pay you cash), help tons of kids, and have little to no practice stress?”
1. Keeping your patients longer…
2. Recommend long term corrective care plans…
American Chiropractor website
Video of General Becky Halstead urging for better chiropractic inclusion in the US military. Apparently her recommendation is based on her own experience with chiropractic in relation to fibromyalgia. (21st June 2010)
“Health conditions reportedly treated within the pediatric population included back or neck pain, asthma, birth trauma, colic, constipation, ear infection, head or chest cold, and upper respiratory infections. Referrals made to or from these chiropractors were uncommon.” Pohlman KA, Hondras MA, Long CR, Haan AG BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (14 June 2010)
“…only the most rabid anti-chiropractor secretly (or openly) wishing for the profession to go the way of the dodo bird would encourage, endorse or otherwise sanction the lunacy that's been taking place recently. You may have heard about the recent statement by the General Chiropractic Council in the United Kingdom that the subluxation theory "...is not supported by any clinical research evidence that would allow claims to be made that it is the cause of disease or health concerns."
Or you may have heard about the new proposed code of conduct in Australia that has chiropractors there worried about restricting the forms of advertising used, curtailing wellness type care, discouraging the recommendation that parents get their kids checked regularly and even that chiropractors will need to be up to date on all vaccines.
Or you may be aware that chiropractic can no longer claim to be a drugless profession as some of our bretheren in several states push for prescriptive rights…
Or you may have read the recent commentary by Simon French, Bruce Walker and Stephen Perle in Chiropractic & Osteopathy titled "Chiropractic care for children: too much, too little or not enough?" in which the authors state after lamenting about the paucity of chiropractic pediatric research: "Thus it may also be reasonable to suggest that a short trial of 'placebo treatment' is warranted!"
The wheels appear to be coming off the wagon.
We desperately need a strong organization that champions the care of our most important patients, we desperately need a research journal that publishes the evidence to support the right to provide that care and we desperately need a think tank devoted to vertebral subluxation."
Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health - Chiropractic (6th June 2010)
By a vote of 365-6, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the "Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act" (H.R. 1017), which would provide chiropractic care at all Veterans Administration Medical Centers (VAMC). The bill aims to add "chiropractic care" to the VA's medical and rehabilitative services and add "periodic and preventative chiropractic examinations and services" to its preventive health services…It is not clear, however, whether the OMB or the legislators who voted for H.R. 1017 considered whether "periodic and preventive chiropractic services" have any value. Many chiropractors claim that to promote general health, everyone should be checked periodically from birth onward to detect and correct "subluxations." This process, commonly referred to as "preventative maintenance," has no plausible rationale, has never been tested, and is not a covered service under Medicare. It is not clear what might happen if H.R. 1017 becomes law and the VA hires chiropractors who espouse "preventative maintenance." Chirobase (25th May 2010) [pdf]
“Chiropractors are taking advantage of a very affordable ‘Already-Done-For-You’ newsletter product that is written for patients - not doctors - to build their practice and create lifetime patients.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Consultation on Chiropractic, from which the 2005 guidelines contained in this link evolved, took place in Milan, Italy, on 2-4 December 2004. Of the 27 listed participants, 18 appear to be professionally involved with either chiropractic or Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Under the heading 'Philosophy and basic theories of chiropractic' (Section 1.2) it is stated: "A majority of practitioners within the profession would maintain that the philosophy of chiropractic includes, but is not limited to, holism, vitalism, naturalism..... Significant neurophysiological consequences may occur as a result of mechanical spinal functional disturbances, described by chiropractors as subluxation and the Vertebral Subluxation Complex". [pdf]
A collection of chiropractic products and practice-building tools. Includes "Create a lifetime wellness patient who will also bring in their spouse, their children, their parents and others". Other products include Patient Education Kits and questionable information about vaccines. (Koren Publications)
"[Therefore] the presence of symptoms and/or a medical diagnosis should not be a factor in determining the need for or appropriateness of chiropractic adjustments, nor should the presence of symptoms be required by any chiropractic board, insurance company or court of law to justify the rendering of chiropractic care to any patient." (The World Chiropractic Alliance)
An animation showing how the spinal vertebrae can allegedly affect overall health. (chirosite.com)
"Learn what to do to give your patients the reasons, the methods and the means to refer everyone they know to your office." (Patient Media)