Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chiropractors admit "Chiropractic has never cured anyone of anything"

PLEASE NOTE Since writing this blog, Glasgow Chiro have revamped their webpage, hence some of the links may no longer work. A more recent article on Glasgow CHiro's website can be found here.

Recently, I blogged about Glasgow Chiropractic changing their website to remove references to colic.

Previous posts on this site have demonstrated that evidence-free claims about the ability of chiropractors to cure/treat period pains, carpal tunnel syndrome and asthma are routinely appearing on chiropractor's websites - in the blogposts above, I linked to Glasgow Chiropractic as an example.

A specific complaint about the contents of their website had been sent to the GCC and so, using, I was able to see how Glasgow Chiropractic would react.

As a pleasant surprise, the chiropractors seem they have come over all hand-wringy and repentant and have updated their website accordingly.

The change detection page for menstrual pain is here and the one for shoulder pain and carpal tunnel syndrome is here. You can see the changes made by clicking on " View changes: 2009-07-08 13:57" about half way down on the left hand side.

The new page on shoulder pain is here and contains the bold title
Chiropractic has never cured anyone of anything.

Quite an admission, although one that is completely backed up by research data.

The new addition to the website goes on to say:
If we go looking for the named condition that Chiropractic can be applied to and produce change in we will find ourselves in a merry-go-round of symptoms, loosing [sic] sight of the whole because of an obsession with the parts.

So the question of What can Chiropractic Cure should be changed to "How" can Chiropractic Assist? The answer is simple. A well functioning mind and body has a greater opportunity to heal, repair and function than a poorly functioning one. A well functioning mind and body depends to a significant degree on a well functioning spine and nerve system. This is Chiropractic's contribution.

People find that chiropractic's ability to produce better spine and nerve system function changes their life expression. There are thousands of symptoms and conditions that chiropractic has been associated with helping, however don't ask "Can Chiropractic Cure this or that condition" - instead ask "If my mind and body was functioning better through Chiropractic would I be better placed to handle this condition?"
Have you got that? Don't ask "can chiropractic cure". Just don't. Ask a different question if you must, but don't ask if it can cure.

The page on menstrual pain contains an almost identical admission along with postmodern flakery but has some interesting text manipulations further down (new text in bold, previous text in brackets/italics)

Chiropractic management of dysmenorrhoea

When helping (treating) women who suffer from dysmenorrhea, the majority of chiropractors address only problems located in the areas directly involved in causing the symptoms. In a study conducted to establish which styles of Chiropractic care (treatments) are most frequently used by chiropractors for dysmenorrhea, manipulation was used in 100% of the cases.
Read that last sentence again in its old and new forms - the meaning has been changed to the point of silliness. Although perhaps they are now referring to a different study? Who knows.
A chiropractor’s role is to normalise the functions of the body by correcting spinal problems. The rationale behind the chiropractic management (treatment) of women suffering from dysmenorrhea is to deal with (treat) its spinal and skeletal aspect.

Chiropractic provides the mechanisms through which dysmenorrheic women can be relieved of their pain in a drug-free environment and even go on to live a life free of period pain.

How (What) can Chiropractic assist with (a Chiropractor do for) menstrual pain?

Your chiropractor will perform a complete consult and examination and may take radiographs (x rays) if clinically required.). After review of the examination findings your chiropractor will recommend an appropriate and individual care program. Chiropractic care (Treatment) consists of specific manual adjustments, to the individual joints of the body and spine, which restore damaged neurologic function. As Grey’s Anatomy text states every single organ in the body is controlled by the nervous system. This includes the uterus and reproductive systems. Through the specific adjustment your chiropractor provides neurological input (imput) that allows your nervous system, and so your organs, to adapt to environmental stresses.

So by changing the word 'treat' to 'help' or similar, that makes it all ok. It's good to see that the X-rays are now only done 'if clinically required'.

Will that ever be the case if chiropractic has never cured anyone of anything?



  1. That's the best they could do? That's tragic.

  2. There's an interesting ABC (Australian) Law Report podcast on Chiropracting.

  3. your post raises the question: how are chiropractors reacting to the pressure on them to pay attention to the evidence to support their assertions? Are they becoming more evidence-based? Or, are they just changing the language that they use?

    i may be a cynical skeptic, but what i see happening in the CAM world is the development of set of codewords (dog whistles) that mean one thing to insiders and another thing to outsiders, and allow them to follow the letter but not spirit of evidence-based practice.

    the language log has an interesting post on dog whistles here:

  4. I'm amused that the reference for 'nerves control every organ' is apparently to Grey's Anatomy (a TV series) rather than to the textbook 'Gray's Anatomy', because believe me the text book says no such thing - as any fule no.

  5. Michael Kingsford GrayJuly 9, 2009 at 9:55 AM

    How much more gentle questioning pressure will it take from the reality-based community for these harmful parasitic lunatic quacks to admit to the truth that they are either delusional, or frauds? (Or both)

  6. "Chiropractic has never cured anyone of anything."

    If it did they wouldn't keep having to come back for further adjustments.

  7. and a GP has cured someone (even though we still go back to them continually)?
    the basis behind this is that chiropractors only assist the body in curing itself. it sounds weird, but every living thing has that innate system in their body. you cut yourself, your body heals it.
    Now, for the fact of chiropractors doing evidence based treatments, most chiro schools only teach that. now some chiros are absolute loony! but many follow along the evidence based approach. those that do are great docs!
    MAYO clinic has done a bunch of research that stated that chiropractic treatments help with neck and low back pain. As I understand it, a vast majority of chiropractic treatment has research behind it (peer reviewed research). i can't say that about medicine. a small percentage of medicine has research backing it.
    so, who follows the evidence?
    dont get me wrong, there are quacks in chiropractic (and MDs for that matter), but dont lump them all in that same category.

  8. The Chiropocalypse has now spread to Australia, with Simon Singh's appearance on ABC TV's Lateline.

    Here too, the words "treat" and/or "treatment" seem to have hit a raw nerve (pun intended).

    The Chiropractors' Association of Australia took issue with the reporter saying that the CAA, on its website, "effectively" claims chiro can treat colic. The CAA insisted in a response that chiros don't "treat".

    In fact, the CAA website has a bet each way, claiming in one place that chiropractors don't "treat" but further down the page citing a "study" which they say shows it can be an effective treatment for colic.

    The more I look, the more it seems like they're trying to redefine "treatment", on one hand, and describe almost all benefits of chiropractic as mere side effects on the other.

    More interesting, perhaps, is if chiropractic can not cure anything, how does this Australian chiropractor claim "But when we treat the underlying causes, the symptoms are gone for good!"???

    More at: Australian Chiropractic for colic?

  9. Michael Kingsford GrayJuly 10, 2009 at 9:56 AM

    The cowardly anonymous said...

    As I understand it, a vast majority of chiropractic treatment has research behind it...

    Then you understand TOTALLY WRONG!!!
    Neither the majority, nor the minority of Chiropractic 'treatment' has any sort of scientific research behind it.
    (At least research that supports it!)

    If you might reveal such supportive research, the British Chiropractic Association would pay you their eye-teeth for it!

    But you do NOT, the BCA do NOT, and no-one does.

  10. Allo V Psycho
    Please note in the introduction of Gray's Anatomy 27th Edition, pgs 17-18: "The nervous system (neurology) includes the Central Nervous System, which is composed of the brain and spinal cord, the Peripheral Nervous System, which is composed of the nerves and ganglia, and the Sense Organs, such as the eye and ear. Its function is to control and co-ordinate all the other organs and structures, and to relate the individual to his environment."

    Perhaps you should actually read the book. You and your other "skeptic" friends allow your prejudices to cloud your judgement and to therefore miss the obvious and the logical. By the way, run from any doctor that says he or she can "cure" anything. Removal, suppressing, covering, or modifying a condition or disease is not the same as "curing". You can kill some bacteria, but the body itself does the "curing".

    Carry on, as I am sure you will.

  11. Bless your heart, anonymous, I've been teaching this stuff for three decades: have published papers in anatomical conferences; and been an invited speaker nationally and internationally at anatomical meetings. I know where the mistakes are in Grays, and have even had input into fixing some of them. And as a result I know thatyou can't interpret a generic statement in an introduction that way. What I know about you is that you don't know the proper name of the textbook, have read at least one part of the intro, and can't tell good evidence from bad.
    For your benefit, there are a number of organs which are controlled by endocrine and exocrine factors, by controls in blood and gut components, and by environmental influences. Yes, they are all innervated, just as they are all vascularised, and they go wrong through viruses, bacteria, genetics, and environmental factors - and none of these are addressed by chiropractic. Some musculoskeletal things, maybe - I don't have any problem with that. Good evidence for successful treatment of colic, asthma, otitis media and other childhood illnesses by chiropractic is negligible: i take it we agree on that.
    As for GPs, well, yes they can cure a number of conditions, others they can refer, or manage. I might return to that another time. And I will indeed carry on, of course.
    Best wishes,


  12. As for what too many chiropractors seem to think they know about neuroanatomy, see this site as an example:
    Click the link to the chart "Vertebral Subluxations and How They May Affect Your Body"
    I have found this chart and similar ones on many chiropractors' web sites, e.g.,,, and more.

    What I find most astonishing is not only how they associate various body organs and symptoms with completely whacky and improbable nerves, such as C2 with "eyes, optic nerves, auditory nerves, sinuses, ...", or Th4 with "Gall bladder conditions, jaundice, shingles" (sic! -- I may have attended a suboptimal medical school, but as far I was taught, Herpes Zoster is a virus that may lodge in other spinal nerve roots too).

    The most astonishing thing in my view is that these charts don't relate the organs and symptoms to spinal *nerves* but to *vertebrae*!! :-) Does that mean that chiros purport to be able to "help the body heal itself" from shingles by manipulating vertebra Th4? Or from "certain cases of blindness" by manipulating vertebra C2?

    The longest lists of organs and symptoms are found for C1, Atlas, supposedly for chiro-historical reasons. (In some chiros' and sub-chiros' view, countless ailments are caused by a "badly positioned Atlas". See this suspect site:

    A funny consequence of this focus on vertebrae rather than nerves, C8 is consistently omitted. Perhaps they don't know of its existence?
    Or are no symptoms ever caused by disturbances in the "energy flow" of C8? :-D
    Which nerve do they believe is "impinged" by a "subluxation" of C7?
    I am curious.

  13. Thanks, Okjhum, that chart is pure comedy gold. What happened to the cranial nerves, and their areas of supply? C6 causes tonsilitis? What is particularly interesting/amusing is that the areas mapped to the nerves don't even correspond to the spinal dermatomes. I had (rashly, I suppose) assumed that these would be 'basics for chiropractors'. But apparently not - and when I think about it, Palmer invented his speculations before the first comprehensive dermatome maps. However, I do have a text from 1888 which does give a more accurate indication of nerve supply to the extremities than this chart [Windle BCA (1888) A handbook of surface anatomy and landmarks] It would be fascinating to trace the lineage of the chiropractic chart in their literature.
    Perhaps anonymous can help us out after his intensive study of 'Grey's Anatomy'. Which areas does C6 supply again?

  14. Allo v Psycho

    Having been in private practice for four decades and actually "helping" people, not just reading books and papers (although have been doing a good bit of that as well), perhaps you can explain the sympathetic response from stimualtion of the neuroceptors in the facets and the effect upon the endocrine glands and vascular system. While you are at it explain the microbiology concept that the "virulence of the disease is indirectly proportionate to the resistance of the host". Also, just how did you change the wording regarding the nervous system and it's over all control and coordination of all body function?

    GP's "cure" people? No, antibiotics kill bacteria, and antivirals kill virus and the body does the rest.

    You seem to buy into the unstated philosophy, as noted in "Medical News", that "if we eliminate all disease, we will be left with health" which even they admit is false.

    Fundamental difference of approach that we have, and they are not mutually exclusive, is that you are interested in "preventing death" and most chiropractors are interested in "promoting health", both are appropriate at different times. I have no argument with the appropriate use of drugs and surgery, but their use is appropriate only when the individual's resistance is too low.

    Carry on.

  15. @Anonymous, you dodged the questions. Please read them again. And you said "antibiotics kill bacteria, and antivirals kill virus and the body does the rest." So, at least you mentioned very plausible mechanisms by which the body is helped to heal itself. What plausible mechanisms can you quote for the spinal manipulation's promoting of health? What happens in which tissue when you selectively manipulate, for instance, C1?

  16. Dear Anonymous,
    You ask "how did you change the wording regarding the nervous system and it's over all control and coordination of all body function?"
    I didn't have to. The quote you give, as you know, is from the 1938Edition. I will check for you when it changed, but that will take some library work. However, as I indicated, recent editions (I checked 38th, 39th, and 40th) say no such thing.
    You request "explain the sympathetic response from stimualtion of the neuroceptors in the facets and the effect upon the endocrine glands and vascular system". I think no one has suggested that manipulating the back does nothing - even if it is just causing pain! Chiropractors have proposed that chiropractic 'treats', 'helps with' or by implication 'cures' otitis media. How?
    You ascribe to me the philosophy "if we eliminate all disease, we will be left with health" and then attack the philosophy. However, I never indicated that I held such a philosophy. This is a straw man.
    You demand “explain the microbiology concept that the "virulence of the disease is indirectly proportionate to the resistance of the host"”. I’m not quite sure of your point here. Yes, some conditions are worse in the immunocompromised. Some affect, even kill, people even when they are perfectly healthy. Can you offer me any evidence that chiropractic improves immune system function?
    You state “you are interested in "preventing death" and most chiropractors are interested in "promoting health". You cannot make this statement about me, since you do not know. me; and it is in fact quite false. I am deeply interested in public health and disease prevention, and I hope I pass this on to my students. But since you raise the issue, can you provide me with any evidence that chiropractic alone can make a difference to any life threatening condition such as cancer or HIV/AIDS?
    I’m sorry if I implied that I had been ‘reading’ papers in anatomical journals over the last decades. I meant to indicate that I had been writing them.
    I have addressed your questions; perhaps you could know address ours? And I take it you are a practicing chiropractor and therefore have something to lose by admitting you might be mistaken?

  17. @Anonymous,

    It is easy to see that the nervous system is not needed to control most organs. Transplanted organs work normally with no innervation. Re-innervation may take place slowly (over years, if at all) but it is limited and insignificant. Similarly, in the case of spinal cord damage most visceral organs continue to function normally.

    If there is convincing evidence for any of chiros' claims (beyond being as good as masseurs for low back pain) why isn't it published? Maybe you have been "helping" people; but that does not distinguish you from a masseur.


  18. Allo V Psycho

    Will respond to your post a bit later as I am a bit busy this AM

  19. Perhaps Mr. Anonymous is having problems with his "prostrate gland"? See L4 in the chiro-anatomy chart.

  20. The Midpen Chiro link has a copy of the Chiropractic Oath, which states "I do not prescribe, treat, or diagnose conditions."

    It seems that the modern chiropractor wants the income from supplying "treatments" without the responsibility of proving that they work.

  21. Wow...

    I viewed this blog as I was in search of another topic...

    I am not of any medical background but I did find this to be a very interesting blog in that people in these professions can be very catty - 'meow and roar' -

    My question is how did it come to this??

    What ever happened 'To each his own' - As there are places on this planet where medicine is not in reach of people and they survive somehow...

    Doesn't seem to be a right or wrong way - just a difference of training and experiences. When we throw stones at other people because they dont do it our way what does that say about us?

    At the end of the day - why did you choose your professions? Stick with your passion and let other people stick with their passion.

    Seems to me that if what you doing works for the people you are helping/healing then all the better.

    I learned alot by reading this... 1- professionals aren't always professional 2 - Thinking Is Indeed - Dangerous even for the learned and scholarly.

    READ -
    Medical Apartheid by Harriet Washington for further insight as to why people don't always trusts Doctors.

    Continued heath and healing to all...

    Kathe X

  22. St Paul ChiropracticDecember 15, 2009 at 3:43 PM

    Really appreciable blog. BCA is taking right step towards chiropractors treatment. Treatment tricks should be considered.

  23. I was diagnosed with OA of the hip 4 years ago by a top specialist that my GP referred me to (cost me £160 for a 10 minute appointment). He was very definite that OA was my problem and assured me that there was no other problem causing my symptoms. He told me to just accept it and adapt my life accordingly. Go back when I needed a hip replacement I was in my early 40's.

    I went to a chiropractor. He took xrays and told me that whilst I had degenerative changes they weren't bad enough to cause symptoms and if I stopped the wear caused by faulty movement patterns there was no reason why it should ever cause a problem. He pointed out that my pelvis was twisted and rotated and said that the problem was in my SI joint and that it would be an easy fix.

    Chiropractor didn't manage to fix the problem and he did cost me quiet a lot of money. HOWEVER, he had shown me what I needed to fix to resolve the problem. I tried all sorts of physios, osteopaths, trigger point therapists. None solved the problem but most added a little bit of info that helped me find the solution. The chiropractors diagnoses was accurate - better than any of the other specialists I saw.

    4 years down the line I've pretty much fixed the twisted pelvis and the symptoms have gone completely. I now pass all the tests for OA with flying colours - I'm cured (something that the medical profession insist isn't possible) ! It's taken lots of research and trial and error but basically just fixing a whole bunch of faulty movement patterns and muscle imbalances. The scary thing is that had I taken the doctors advice and just 'lived with it' I would have ended up with OA as I was so twisted that every time I moved I was grinding down the joints.

    So who's the "Quack"? The highly respected and expensive specialist (who's opinion carried such weight that once he'd given his diagnosis no one would consider anything else). Or the Chiropractor that was right about the diagnosis, was right that it could be fixed, but just didn't manage to fix it himself? The specialist was using widely accepted tests and methods to make his diagnoses so how many other people have been misdiagnosed?

    The medical profession doesn't have all the answers. When you try alternative treatments you know that it's hit and miss. The terrible danger with doctors is that they often make bold claims, claim that they're backed by science and research yet all too often that science and research turns out to be complete bunkum.

    I think it's good to challenge alternative medicine and point out flaws, but I for one am glad that there is somewhere to go when the 'quacks' in the medical profession let you down.

  24. Lady says to pharmacist: "Why does my prescription medication have 40 side effects?"
    Pharmacist replies: "Cause that's all we've documented so far."

    Prescription drugs, surgery, pain killers, etc, just numb your pain and don’t do anything to fix the problem, yet they are responsible for 106,000 deaths per year.

    Chiropractic is the fastest growing drugless healing profession in the world today!

  25. Hi Seattle Chiropractic,

    "Prescription drugs, surgery, pain killers, etc, just numb your pain and don’t do anything to fix the problem, yet they are responsible for 106,000 deaths per year."

    Argument from irrelevancy - doesn't give any credence to chiro.

    "Chiropractic is the fastest growing drugless healing profession in the world today"

    Argument from popularity - no proof of evidence.

    Same old empty nonsense from the spine wizards.


  26. I think you have to be careful when you quote something. In reading your article, I don't think you took them out of context, but it would have been very easy to do. To clarify, chiropractic care doesn't cure people of ailments; the body cures people. Chiropractic care just removes any interferences that the body may encounter.

  27. Hi Mark,

    Are you a medical doctor or a chiropractic one?

    What are these interferences, that no-one has ever seen, or provided evidence for? Your comment is nonsense rhetoric and doesn't make any actual sense, certainly in a scientific sense.