Chiro-Quackery? Is Chiropractic Care Science or Pseudoscience?

ChiroQuackery? Is Chiropractic Care Science or Pseudoscience?

There’s a great discussion going on at Anne’s Anti-Quackery & Science Blog between a pediatrician and a chiropractic “professional” that calls himself a “doctor.”

Clark Bartram of the blog, Unintelligent Design, posed the question, “how organs systems continue to function after transection of the spinal cord due to trauma” in response to Anne’s entry that questions the chiropractic industry with some well-known problems like the “fantasy” of subluxation and the occasional stroke that can result from simply cracking a neck. The “doctor of chiropractic,” Steven L. Vanden Hoek, responds to Bartram’s questions and criticisms with a list of studies and texts. This was about a month ago and Bartram hasn’t responded yet, but, as busy as he seems in the blogsphere, I can see how he may have forgot it.

Still, I’m eager to see what his response(s) may be. I’m not a medical professional and at the mercy of those with educations in the field when it comes to understanding the chiropractic industry and whether it’s just flim-flam or if there’s something to it. My gut tells me it’s poppycock, since there seems to be so much snake oil and salesmanship associated with it. Vanden Hoek’s own website looks like an advertisement more than a place to get information. Moreover, I’d trust a spinal manipulation to a medical professional that actually had to spend a significant chunk of his life educating himself (or herself) in the field of medicine. But I can’t say that I’d have as much confidence in someone that went to a trade school and came out in a few short years with a diploma that said “doctor.”

Maybe there’s a time and place to have a spinal manipulation, but chiropractors seem to be hobbyists compared to physicians; businessmen compared to actual doctors.

Skeptical links to chiropractic “medicine.”

Chiropractic’s Elusive “Subluxation”
Chiropractic’s Dirty Secret: Neck Manipulation and Strokes
Steer Clear of “Chiropractic Nutrition”
Chirobase – Your Skeptical Guide to Chiropractic History, Theories, and Practices
Operated by Stephen Barrett, MD, and Samuel Homola, DC
Improper Claims on Chiropractic College Web Sites
Skeptic’s Dictionary Entry
Do Chiropractors Treat Anything? Chiropractors claim they allow the body to heal itself. Medical professionals say that’s nonsense.
Subluxations not backed up by proof. Chiropractors still can’t prove that the misalignment” they claim to treat even exists.


5 Responses

  1. If you want to read an interesting discussion, check out the recent back and forth between myself and a credulous believer in a bogus diagnosis called Wilson’s Temperature(or thyroid)syndrome. It’s at

  2. Wow. That one is certainly getting a bookmark in case I ever run across the issue in the future!

    Its amazing what people will allow themselves to believe.

  3. I had forgotten about the chiropractor who was trying to argue with me over at Anne’s site until I stumbled upon this.

    That’s him. I especially enjoyed the following excerpt:

    ” tell you my story so you can understand the passion I have for the healing power of
    God’s creation – nature. I understand that manual therapies, nutritional therapies, and
    emotional therapies are important for full person healing. That is why I have spent
    hours training in the fields of E.F.T. (Emotional Freedom Technique), A.K. (Applied
    Kinesiology), D.H. (Digestive Health), N.H.S. (Natural Health Specialist), L.B. (Logan
    Basic), E.A.V. (Electric Acupuncture according to Voll), Herbology, Homeopathics,
    Breathing, and S.O.T. (Sacro-Occipital Technique)”

    I fear he is beyond help. There is no coming back from the realm of electric acupuncture and homeopathics. Breathing I am a fan of though. I guess one has to be “holistic” and “natural” to encorporate that into their practice.

  4. “Within a few months of beginning Chiropractic treatments my ear infections were gone
    and my allergies had reduced significantly.”

    I think I’d buy into the whole chiro thing a little more if they would simply stick to easing the pain of back aches and the like. At least getting your back cracked or neck popped to solve a back ache or headache seems intuitive enough. I’ve had a headache and cracked my own neck to relieve it before.

    But curing allergies and ear infections?

  5. Not to mention the sleazy used car salesman marketing tactics and use of testimonials as evidence. For several months before I left Nashville, a local chiropractor was running a full page ad in the city paper which was an admission of guilt for taking the credit for healing so many sick people. You see it was the chiropractic and its ability to free up the vital healing force from god which is in all of us. Oh, and he was running a special where you could get your exam and xray for 49 bucks. Not long after I moved to my current location some 15 hours away I stumbled upon the exact, word for word, ad run by a completely different local chiropractor. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. They have entire seminars and courses on how to drum up business by setting up booths at fairs or at schools to check for scoliosis in kids or using bogus diagnostic machines to convince people they need chiro care. It’s called Practice Builders and it is even in the curriculum at some chiropractic colleges. If you are really interested you should check out Sam Homola’s book on chiropractic.

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