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Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 | ISSN 1556-5696

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the latest additions to MichaelShermer.com and SkepticBlog.org

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An Open Letter to Bill Maher on Vaccinations

Michael Shermer shares his open letter to Bill Maher urging him to reconsider his postion on vaccination. This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post on October 16, 2009. • READ the blog post

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In this week’s eSkeptic, J. D. Haines, MD reminds us that chiropractic is a dangerous threat to public health. In an age where phenomenal medical discoveries have improved the health and extended average longevity to almost 80 years, chiropractic remains a holdover from the days of the snake oil salesmen.

J. D. Haines, MD has over 20 years experience in family and emergency medicine. He is a Fellow of American College of Sports Medicine, and Clinical Associate Professor of Family Practice at the University of Oklahoma.


engraving

engraving of a spinal column from Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body, 1918.

Fatal Adjustments
How Chiropractic Kills

by J. D. Haines, MD

When Kristi Bedenbaugh wanted relief from a bad sinus headache, the 24 year-old former beauty queen and medical office administrator made the mistake of consulting a chiropractor. An autopsy performed on Kristi revealed that the manipulation of her neck had split the inner walls of both vertebral arteries, resulting in a fatal stroke.

The chiropractor’s violent twisting of her neck caused the torn arterial walls to balloon and block the blood supply to the posterior portion of her brain. Studies confirmed that the blood clots formed on the two days she received her neck adjustments.

Kristi died in1993. Four years later, South Carolina’s State Board of Chiropractic Examiners fined the chiropractor $1000 and sentenced him to 12 hours of continuing medical education in the area of neurological disorders and emergency response.

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Supporters of chiropractic are quick to claim that cases like this are rare. Try telling that to Kristi’s family — no matter how great the odds, the outcome was 100% fatal for her. The real problem is that there are no valid statistics concerning the risk of stroke after neck manipulation. Aside from anecdotal reports like Kristi’s and a few surveys, little clinical research has addressed this problem.

Two recent studies reveal the tip of the iceberg. In 1992, researchers at the Stanford Stroke Center surveyed 486 California neurologists regarding how many patients they had seen within the previous two years who had suffered a stroke within 24 hours of neck manipulation. One hundred seventy-seven neurologists responded, reporting 55 patients between the ages of 21 and 60. One patient died and 48 were left with permanent neurological impairment.

A review of 116 journal articles published between 1925 and 1997 reported 177 cases of neck injury caused by manipulation. Sixty percent of these cases resulted from injury inflicted by chiropractors.

The real tragedy is that cervical spine manipulation is totally worthless in treating problems like Kristi Bedenbaugh’s. So, however rare the incidence of adverse outcome, the risk always outweighs any perceived benefit. There is no medically proven benefit whatsoever to chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine.

While it may be argued that chiropractic is helpful for some cases of low back pain, the claims that over 90 different medical illnesses may be successfully treated by spinal manipulation is without any scientific evidence. The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics stated on May 27, 2002, “For neck and low back pain, trials have not demonstrated an unequivocal benefit of chiropractic spinal manipulation over physical therapy and education.” The report continues: “Repeated reports of arterial dissection and stroke associated with cervical spine manipulation and cauda equina syndrome associated with manipulation of the lower back suggest a cause and effect relationship.”

The report concludes, “Spinal manipulation can cause life-threatening complications. Manipulation of the cervical spine, which has been associated with dissection of the vertebral artery, appears to be especially dangerous.”

The major problem with chiropractic is that it was founded upon the false premise that correction of vertebral subluxations will restore and maintain health. Chiropractic philosophy maintains that disease or abnormal function is caused by interference with nerve transmission due to pressure, strain, or tension upon the spinal nerves due to deviation or subluxation within the vertebral column.

Daniel David Palmer, a tradesman who posed as a magnetic healer, discovered chiropractic in 1895. Palmer’s first patient was a deaf janitor who had his hearing restored after Palmer adjusted a bump on his spine. According to Dr. Edmund Crelin, “Magnetic healing was a popular form of quackery in the 19th century in which the healers believed that their personal magnetism was so great that it gave them the power to cure diseases.” Palmer summarized his new science:

I am the originator, the Fountain Head of the essential principle that disease is the result of too much or not enough funtionating [sic]. I created the art of adjusting vertebrae, using the spinous and transverse processes as levers, and named the mental act of accumulating knowledge, the cumulative function, corresponding to the vegetative function — growth of intellectual and physical-together, with the science, art and philosophy — Chiropractic. It was I who combined the science and art and developed the principles thereof. I have answered the question — what is life?

Palmer’s egotistical and ridiculous claims are familiar to those who have studied leaders of religious cults. Incredibly, Palmer’s philosophy remains the basis of modern-day chiropractic thinking. Palmer’s claim that chiropractic answers the question, “What is life?” would be laughable if not for a gullible public who readily accept quackery.

The public is led to believe that physicians disparage chiropractors out of some sort of professional jealousy. Yet there is only one reason that physicians judge chiropractors so harshly. Medicine is scientifically based, whereas chiropractic is not supported by a single legitimate scientific study.

In the first experimental study of the basis of chiropractic’s subluxation theory, Dr. Edmund S. Crelin, then an anatomy professor at Yale University, demonstrated that chiropractic theory was erroneous. As retired chiropractor Samuel Homola writes, “Using dissected spines with ligaments attached and the spinal nerves exposed, he used a drill press to bend and twist the spine. Using an ohm meter to record any contact between wired spinal nerves and the foraminal openings, he found that vertebrae could not be displaced enough to stretch or impinge a spinal nerve unless the force was great enough to break the spine. Crelin concluded, ‘This experimental study demonstrates conclusively that the subluxation of a vertebrae as defined by chiropractic — the exertion of pressure on a spinal nerve which by interfering with the planned expression of Innate Intelligence produces pathology — does not occur.’”

Physicians have long recognized that spinal nerves are commonly pinched by bony spurs and herniated discs, resulting in musculoskeletal symptoms, without any effect on visceral function, as claimed by chiropractic. Chiropractic theory ignores that the autonomic nervous system maintains the function of the body’s organs, even in spinal cord lesions.

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Chiropractors are notorious for performing unnecessary X-rays and so-called maintenance care that often corresponds to the duration of the patient’s insurance coverage. The greatest threat of chiropractic, however, may be to infants and children. As Homola explains, “Parents are lured by claims that spinal adjustments at an early age can prevent the development of disease and that vaccination may not be necessary.” There remains no medical or scientific basis for the treatment of infants and children. A more subtle danger represented by chiropractic is the campaign for public acceptance as primary care providers. The clinical training received by chiropractic students is greatly inferior to that of medical students and residents.

In today’s climate of government-sanctioned alternative therapies, the ignorant consumer may be fooled by slick marketing to believe that chiropractors are qualified to treat a broad range of diseases. As alternative medicine gains wider acceptance, public health will surely suffer. Stephen Barrett, MD, has written that the real enemy of chiropractors is themselves:

Your basic enemy is yourself. Your colleagues engaged in unscientific practices, economic rip-offs, cheating insurance companies, selling unnecessary supplements and generally overselling themselves. Most chiropractors would like to believe that the number of such colleagues is small. I think it is large and may even be a majority.

As far back as 1924 essayist H. L. Mencken recognized chiropractors as quacks:

Today the backwoods swarm with chiropractors, and in most States they have been able to exert enough pressure on the rural politicians to get themselves licensed. Any lout with strong hands and arms is perfectly equipped to become a chiropractor. No education beyond the elements is necessary. The takings are often high, and so the profession has attracted thousands of recruits — retired baseball players, work-weary plumbers, truck-drivers, longshoremen, bogus dentists, dubious preachers, cashiered school superintendents. Now and then a quack of some other school — say homeopathy — plunges into it. Hundreds of promising students come from the intellectual ranks of hospital orderlies.

As practiced today, chiropractic is a threat to public health. In an age where phenomenal medical discoveries have improved the health and extended average longevity to almost 80 years, chiropractic remains a holdover from the days of the snake oil salesmen. Every year trusting and naïve Americans suffer needless injury and death due to dangerous cervical spine manipulation. The investigation of the true frequency of complications from chiropractic is a duty that public health officials have long neglected and should undertake at once.


Mr. Deity and the Science Advisor

The science advisor (played by PZ Myers of Pharyngula fame) informs Mr. Deity that his design for the humans leaves something to be desired.

WATCH this episode >
DONATE to Mr. Deity >


Don't Be Such a Scientist (cover)

Don’t Be Such a Scientist!

This week on Skepticality, Swoopy catches up with biologist-turned-filmmaker Dr. Randy Olson, whose latest book, Don’t Be Such A Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style deals with the image and communication issues facing scientists in the new media era.

Some of the book’s key messages (don’t be so cerebral; don’t be so literal-minded; don’t be such a poor story teller; don’t be so unlikable) are also on display in Dr. Olson’s newest feature film, Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy. The new movie, a mockumentary that humorously relates just how hard it is to get a film about science made in style-conscious Hollywood, is the closing film at the Imagine: Science Film Festival in New York this week.

LISTEN to episode #113 (34MB MP3)


Stewart Brand will be speaking on
Monday, October 26, 2009 at 7:00 pm

upcoming lectures…

Whole Earth Discipline

An Ecopragmatist Manifesto

with Stewart Brand

NOTE SPECIAL DAY/TIME FOR THIS LECTURE:
Monday, Oct. 26, 2009, 7 pm
Baxter Lecture Hall, Caltech

According to Stewart Brand, a lifelong environmentalist (and creator of the Whole Earth Catalog) who sees everything in terms of solvable design problems, three profound transformations are under way on Earth right now. Climate change is real and is pushing us toward managing the planet as a whole. Urbanization — half the world’s population now lives in cities, and 80% will by midcentury — is altering humanity’s land impact and wealth. And biotechnology is becoming the world’s dominant engineering tool. In light of these changes, Brand suggests that environmentalists are going to have to reverse some long held opinions and embrace tools that they have traditionally distrusted…

READ MORE about this lecture >
VIEW all upcoming lectures >

followed by…

Carl Zimmer will lecture on
Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 2:00 pm

The Tangled Bank

An Introduction to Evolution

with Carl Zimmer

Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009, 2 pm
Baxter Lecture Hall, Caltech

Zimmer, an award-winning science writer (New York Times, Discover), takes readers on a fascinating journey into the latest discoveries about evolution. In the Canadian Arctic, paleontologists unearth fossils documenting the move of our ancestors from sea to land. In the outback of Australia, a zoologist tracks some of the world’s deadliest snakes to decipher the 100-million-year evolution of venom molecules. In Africa, geneticists are gathering DNA to probe the origin of our species. In clear, non-technical language, Zimmer explains the central concepts essential for understanding new advances in evolution, including natural selection, genetic drift, and sexual selection. He demonstrates how vital evolution is to all branches of modern biology — from the fight against deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria to the analysis of the human genome.

READ MORE about this lecture >
VIEW all upcoming lectures >

Important ticket information

Tickets are first come first served at the door. Sorry, no advance ticket sales. Seating is limited. $8 Skeptics Society members & Caltech/JPL Community; $10 General Public.

47 Comments »

47 Comments

  1. Sean says:

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    • Jessica says:

      Anyone ever heard of SPECIFIC UPPER CERVICAL CHIROPRACTIC?? Do your research before making any kind of opinion. Here are a FEW testimonials/opinions of those who believed and discovered…

      http://www.upcspine.com/testmon1.asp

      And be sure to check out the entire website and Google for your own research. Thank you for believing.

      WELCOME TO A NEW LIFE…

  2. richard goldhahn jr M.D. says:

    Much enjoyed Dr. Haines’ article re Chiropractic. Where can I get the references he mentioned but didn’t cite?
    When I was in Albuquerque in the AF in 1970, I became aware of the Spears Chiropractic Clinic in Denver that had a Cerebral Palsy Clinic, where they manipulated patient free of hope and wallets all the time! I was on their mailing list and suddenly the mailings stopped-probably found out I was a feared allopath!
    Dick Goldhahn

  3. Bill says:

    After suffering a childhood sports injury, my back and neck were in constant pain. I started going to chiropractic in my early twenties for a total of seven years of spinal manipulation. My back and neck was worse than ever. By age thirty I had arthritis in my spine no doubt caused by the injuries and chiropractic.
    The chiropractic adjustments felt good at first but within a day or two my bones would snap back into their former position leaving me in worse pain than before the adjustments. It becomes addictive, much like kids cracking their knuckles.
    Today, at age fifty, I do yoga stretching and have an inversion traction table which I hang upside down on several times a day and am better than ever. No more bone crunching! My back is getting stronger and my posture is becoming much better. Posture is key. Stretching and exercise work! Don’t fall for the chiropractor scams. Thanks so much for this very insightful article. I hope people take notice.

    • Jessica says:

      ***************READ READ READ*****************************

      Anyone ever heard of SPECIFIC UPPER CERVICAL CHIROPRACTIC?? Do your research before making any kind of opinion. Here are a FEW testimonials/opinions of those who believed and discovered…

      http://www.upcspine.com/testmon1.asp

      And be sure to check out the entire website and Google “Upper Cervical Chiropractic (your ailment here)” for your own research. Thank you for believing.

      WELCOME TO A NEW LIFE…

  4. J. Alfaro says:

    Interesting article on Chiropractic…

    Never thought I would say this myself, but…although the article states that there is no evidence that chiropractic works, I am one of those individuals who visits a chiropractor semi-regularly (at least, when I have pain) and I must say that the pain goes away instantly when I have the manipulation performed. Is this just all in my mind?? I get a numb tingling in my left arm which I assume is due to my poor posture, motorcycle riding habits and constant video gaming…and the second the manipulation is performed, the tingling sensation goes away and will not reappear for about two weeks to a month…

    I consider myself a skeptic and am pretty self aware, but I cant believe that I am fooling myself and that this $40/visit I spend is a waste of money AND a risk to my health! SAY IT AINT SO!!!

    • Jessica says:

      ***************READ READ READ***********************

      Anyone ever heard of SPECIFIC UPPER CERVICAL CHIROPRACTIC?? Do your research before making any kind of opinion. Here are a FEW testimonials/opinions of those who believed and discovered…

      http://www.upcspine.com/testmon1.asp

      And be sure to check out the entire website and Google “Upper Cervical Chiropractic (your ailment here)” for your own research. Thank you for believing.

      WELCOME TO A NEW LIFE…

  5. Mike says:

    Thank goodness we have the md’s to protect us against unneeded lab tests, surgeries, procedures and drugs!(insert laugh tract here). They also tried to eliminate those quasi-mds the infamous DO’s. Say hows that working out for you? Spend more time getting rid of the thousands of incompetent drug pushing murderous md’s. Then see what happens to the health of the country, not to mention your malpractice insurance rates. In the spirit of fairness, I’m sure we will next see an article on all the patients md’s tried to cripple or drug, who have been helped by DC’s. Lets hope we don’t need to insert another laugh tract after this statement.

  6. Tom says:

    Hello Everyone,
    It’s always interesting to me that medical doctors who bad mouth chiropractic use “Doctor” Stephen Barrett as a resource. Go to quackpotwatch.org to learn more about this “doctor”.
    I am a chiropractor. Michael Shermer uses chiropractic care, as he needs it. I know, because I have conversed with him through emails. Mr. Shermer and I agree that their are chiropractors that make claims regarding chiropractic that are not realistic. Chiropractic care cannot cure every condition under the sun. So how does chiropractic work? By keeping the joints your body in the proper position, weather it be your spine, your wrist, or any other joint, they stay in better shape and last longer. Do the tires on your car last longer if they are in alignment? Same principle. Now imagine an office building or factory, filled with computers and complicated machinery. For this office or factory to work properly and maintain function, it is critical to maintain the lines of communication, otherwise things don’t work the way they are supposed to. That is the same principle as our brain sending and receiving the necessary information to monitor and control every organ and cell in our bodies. Our nervous system is that line of communication. Chiropractic is about keeping our bodies running as best as they are able. How? By keeping the lines of communication open, and keeping the structure that supports our bodies in a position to do so. It’s that simple.
    It is truely a tragedy when something when something happens, like what happened to Kristi Bedenbaugh. There is a risk to every medical or chiropractic procedure. Chiropractors have patients sign Informed Consent forms, just as you would before receiving medical treatment. In rare cases, and I am not saying this is what happened to Miss Bedenbaugh, people are born with congenitally weak and fragile vertibral arteries. There is no common or simple test for this condition, and almost nobody who has it, is aware of it. Why? Because it will usually be uncovered during an autopsy. People with this condition can die from a whiplash trauma, and in some cases, high blood pressure. A fall, or bump to the head, could rupture those weak and fragile arteries. That the case Dr. Haines mentions is from 1993, should let the reader know how rare these episodes are. The following is a quote from Dr. Haines article:

    A review of 116 journal articles published between 1925 and 1997 reported 177 cases of neck injury caused by manipulation. Sixty percent of these cases resulted from injury inflicted by chiropractors.

    Let’s do the math. Sixty percent of 177 is about 106 people. That means that, medical doctors or osteopaths, I assume, were responsible for the other 71. I am being very conservative here; let’s say that at least one million chiropractic neck adjustments were performed over that 72 year period. That means the death rate for a procedure that actually helped hundreds of thousands of people, is less than a tenth of one percent! Name any medical procedure for the conditions these people suffered from that has that kind of safety record. There isn’t any. My malpractice insurance costs pennies to the dollar what a medical doctor pays. Do you know why? Because chiropractic care is safe and effective. It works. Premiums for malpractice insurance are determined by actuaries, and insurance companies based on claims made, not by chiropractors. Based on that, insurance companies think medical treatment is far more dangerous to you than chiropractic care.
    There is not enough space here to address this biased and erroneous article. You realize Dr. Haines, and I am talking in the present, not 1925 or 1993 that the single most preventable cause of death in this country are medical mistakes. You know what they say about people who live in glass houses.

    • Dayna says:

      Hello Everyone,
      I guess I didn’t understand that chiropractic care held all the answers. I believe that Dr. Haines was addressing a specific fatal complication of cervical maniuplation and not attacking the main stream physical therapy procedures that they perform.
      My personal problem with chiropractors is that they are allowed to be called doctors when they have obviously not earned a legitimate medical or doctoral degree. Being a scientist and a chiropractor is impossible because there is no science in chiropractic.
      All of these lengthy angry responses are obviously emotional rather than rational. Dr. Haines’ observations were based on scientific fact and yes, possibly bias, due to his practice of real medicine.
      Dayna RN

  7. TRJ says:

    I am a scientist and a chiropractor and work hard to provide evidence-based and quality care to my patients. I like many of my colleagues, work closely with physiotherapists, medical doctors, orthopaedic specialists, and kinesiologists.

    Although we are no longer in the 1950’s, it appears that the “skeptics” are still drinking of the kool-aid of economic and political opponents of chiropractors, and would rather sling mud based on anecdote and “arguments from authority” rather than work together to improve the health of patients. Perhaps an exposé of medicine, iatrogenic patient mortality and morbidity rates, and actually examining how evidence-based medical practise REALLY is, would alter some of the so-called “open minded” skeptics, instead of merely head bobbing and hand wringing when it comes to discussing subjects they disapprove of. There is a plethora of evidence showing that even the most vigorous forms of chiropractic are as safe as normal neck movement. There are blood flow studies and cadavar studies dating back almost 10 years which have studied these subjects. Some of the better work is being done at the Kinesiology Dept of University of Calgary, Canada, where W. Herzog PhD actually took the time to study the mechanics of neck movement and vertebral artery flow. Wow novel concept! Research to support a theory!

    “Therefore, we conclude from our preliminary results on
    the mechanics of the vertebral artery, that stresses and
    strains of the vertebral artery during neck manipulation
    are well within the normal range experienced during
    everyday movements.” Herzog, 2002

    Notice he did not say “risk free” he said it was “comparable to normal neck movements.” Therefore, I can have a stroke from getting a hair cut, watching movies, sneezing, etc, if I am susceptible to that kind of phenomena. If I happened to have the misfortune of having a stroke, and if by coincidence I went to the chiropractor sometime in the last year, it will be VERY likely that the “normal activity” that the attending doctor pins as the cause of the stroke, will be the neck adjustment. This will further cause opponents of the profession (like the author) to arm themselves with this as further “proof” that neck manipulation is dangerous. Don’t get me started on MD’s over-reporting/under-reporting adverse effects in hospitals. It is an arcane art that has little semblance to reality, in spite of some improvements recently.

    I encounter many bizarre and unscientific medical practises in my own work, and a lot of the doctors have the lofty MD after their name, some have other training. In spite of this, I do not waste time writing newsletters, or evangelising about the evils of allopathic medicine, since people would think I am a biased buffoon, who has it in for medicine. I do not. Medicine has things it does very well, and there are many things I can think of going to a medical doctor for.

    I used to be puzzled by the phenomena of scientists and clinicians who normally are quite unbiased, but will froth at the mouth when it comes to beating up on a subject they know little about. Now I find it mainly irritating and fatiguing, so I am pulling the plug on your newsletter.

    The days of the boogey-men are over, and it is time to try to work on our own professions and improve quality of care standards, improve collaboration and cooperation, and not stopping to throw stones, based on unfounded beliefs that should have died in the middle of the last century.

    Thank you for your time,

    TRJ BSc, MSc, DC
    Canada

    • Dan says:

      Chiropractics is based on BS. They had good lobbyist and received insurance approval by mistake years ago. The Spin Doctors is one good book. In my experience anyone that has been helped by a chiropractor it was because some other modality other than chiro was used. Their theories do not hold up.
      GO’s or Osteopaths are better trained than a general physicians in allopathic medicine. Allopaths and Orthopedics do not know about anything but drugs and surgery. Or, poor PT they do not understand and think it is strength imbalance or weakness that is the cause. Occassionally it is but most is back pain is coming from the front. The Illiopsoas muscle. The problem is not the spine opr the back the problem is in the front!

      Stehen Barrett is a puppet and full of allopathic hot air.

  8. Will says:

    Chiropractor – 2 years or education past a high school diploma

    Physical Therapist – 4 years to get a BS, 3 more years of specialized physical therapy school, 1.5 years of Clinic duty under experienced therapists.

    Who would you trust?

    • Bill Lauretti, DC says:

      I don’t know where Will gets his information, but he really should do some homework before shooting off some foolish comments about chiropractic education. A minimum of 3 years of undergraduate education are required for admission (including an extensive science curriculum), and chiropractic school is five academic years.

      At New York Chiropractic College, where I teach, it’s a demanding 4,620 hour program including anatomy with human dissection, physiology, pathology, and extensive education in whole-body physical diagnosis and diagnostic imaging. Our students are trained in a wide range of therapeutic procedures including manual therapies, exercise therapy and passive modalities. The program also includes a 1.5 year long internship that includes 1,320 hours of supervised clinical experience. Many of our interns serve in multidisciplinary settings including Bethesda Naval Hospital, three VA hospitals, university health clinics and local community hospitals. See
      http://www.nycc.edu/AcademicPrograms_DCprogram.htm
      for more details.

      Bill Lauretti, DC
      Associate Professor of Chiropractic Clinical Sciences
      New York Chiropractic College
      Seneca Falls, NY

      • Double T says:

        There is one problem with your statement, all of the training is done under the roof of chiropractors. Your just tooting your own horn. Checking out the so called demanding schedule at NYCC compares in no way to a ten year medical school training (and more if your specializing in surgeries). Don’t forget competitive marks in undergrad education (high 90’s at least). And to call yourselves doctors? How about taking a five year medical training at medical school for example then chiropractor schooling? Maybe then you might actually have some say.

    • Double T says:

      Good point Will. It can be noted that physiotherapists will tell you when your pretty well okay to recover on your own and no need to come back. A chiropractor on the other hand will keep asking you to come back. Something else to add is the continual updates and removal of gadgets in chiro clinics which is embarrassing.

      • Carlos M Gonzalez DC says:

        My doctor said I would have to takes these medications for life. What a joke! That’s what the pharmaceutical industry trains it’s doctor drug pushers to say. I can’t even begin to tell you how many of my patients have told me this same scenario they went through only to tell the doctor “no thanks” I’ll exercise and lose weight!

    • Jessica says:

      ********READ READ READ***************

      Anyone ever heard of SPECIFIC UPPER CERVICAL CHIROPRACTIC?? Do your research before making any kind of opinion. Here are a FEW testimonials/opinions of those who believed and discovered…

      http://www.upcspine.com/testmon1.asp

      And be sure to check out the entire website and Google “Upper Cervical Chiropractic (your ailment here)” for your own research. Thank you for believing.

      WELCOME TO A NEW LIFE…

    • Carlos M Gonzalez DC says:

      You must be a physical therapist and pissed off because you can’t call yourself a “doctor” unless of course your went on to get your PhD in physical therapy. Get over it and get your facts straight before you write!

    • Carlos M Gonzalez DC says:

      Get your facts straight Will. Do a the proper research before you try to look educated.

    • Carlos M Gonzalez DC says:

      Get your facts straight Will.

  9. Richard Kim, MD says:

    As a neurosurgeon, I read this article with great interest. It struck me as a reasoned, well-written article. The comments, however, not surprisingly, show more bias. The reports of vertebral artery (VA) and cauda equila (CE) injury come as no surprise. I’m sure the vast majority of neurologists and neurosurgeons have seen this and recognize its pathophysiology. VA dissection may also occur from mechanisms other than chiropractic manipulation, such as wrestling, choke holds, and others. This is not news, but the exact incidence of VA injury with chiropractic manipulation is unknown. It’s probably low, as one commenter pointed out, if expressed in statistical units such as number of injuries per 100,000 manipulations. But the point is that it happens, and is well known to happen.

    The other side of the issue is whether this small risk is worth the potential benefit. Several commenters bash the medical system as causing more harm to patients than do chiropractors. Certainly surgical procedures carry risk, sometimes very substantial, as do medications. But these treatments have some proven efficacy for the condition they are intended to treat, and the overall frequency or magnitude of the risks of treatment should be less than that of the disease. These are decisions we have to make every day, with every patient.

    What is the value of chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine, and does this value justify the small but real risk of serious injury or death? I can’t go into the science here, which was alluded to in the article. I can only shake my head and wonder at the lack of scientific basis of an entire field of practice.

  10. kenn pappas says:

    It is particulary distressing when an alleged skeptic, i.e., the chiropractor basher, provides research on the history of chiropractic to dis the practice, but has no real concept of the benefits. Many people, including me and several of the other people who have posted on this site, can personally attest to the benefits of chiropractic. However, this argument is not proof of the benefit of chiropractic for everybody. Nor is it possible for all members of any practice to be 100% correct all of the time. Aspirin has different effects on different people. It is merely one variable to state that aspirin can block pain receptors, for instance. However, aspirin causes vertigo with some people, sinus congestion, not to mention other reported symptoms. There is no such thing as a universal effect with any drug or any manipulation of the spine, nerves, tissues or any other body part. The most responsible surgeon in the world can have a person die on the table when performing a cardiac procedure. What a classic argumentum ad hominem … to point to one chiropractor who caused a person to die because of an alleged malpractice, and from this example, to draw the conclusion that all chiropractors are charlatans. This type of reasoning is not skepicism; it’s a form of bashing without factual or statistical information to rule out the potential benefits of chiropractic. Most chiropractors, at least those totaling over two dozen which I have personally interviewed, practice muscular-skeletal manipulation, and use x-rays to interpret misalignments or other observations that indicate points of tension or stress. Most chiropractors admit that a single adjustment will not “cure” a problem with stress and discomfort, and most will not be absurd enough to claim that chiropractic works 100% of the time. Chiropractors in general (again, based on the ones I’ve interviewed) will also use x-rays to pass the client onto an orthopedic surgeon or practitioner of another medical discipline if he or she believes the problem cannot be treated by musculoskeletal manipulation.

  11. Birchann Paffenbarger says:

    Dr. Haines accusations that chiropractic is dangerous are unfounded. There is little evidence that chiropractic manipulations of the neck are the cause of strokes as Haines claims. In the article entitled “Risk of vertebrobasilar stroke and chiropractic care: results of a population-based case-control and case-crossover study” in the 2009 Feb issue from the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics (32(2 Suppl):S201-8) found that “the increased risks of VBA (vertebral basilar artery) stroke associated with chiropractic and PCP (primary care physician) visits is likely due to patients with headache and neck pain from VBA dissection seeking care before their stroke,” (Cassidy). This and many other studies found a correlation between patients seeking care for specific types of head aches (not asymptomatic patients) are more likely to suffer strokes weather they seek treatment from a medical doctor or a chiropractor. There is not any evidence of patients with out specific symptoms suffering strokes simply due to neck manipulations from a chiropractor. Sadly, there is little evidence that specific orthopedic tests can rule in or out a patient who is at risk of stroke.
    Dr. Haines statement that “Medicine is scientifically based, whereas chiropractic is not supported by a single legitimate scientific study,” is baseless. Much research has been done on the effectiveness of spinal manipulation. Dr. Haines assertion that “There is no medically proven benefit whatsoever to chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine,” is simply not true. Resolution or dramatic decreases in perceived pain have been reported throughout the scientific literature. The journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association has noted this in the 2009 Aug issue (53(3):173-85 ), in an article entitled “Neck pain and disability outcome following chiropractic upper cervical care: a retrospective case series”.
    Chiropractic education is very rigorous. After the undergraduate requirements of a bachelors degree or three years of basic science classes, chiropractors have five academic years in specific scientific training on anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology as medical students do. In addition, the curriculum includes chiropractic technique education, this includes an extensive internship program where students practice chiropractic under strict supervision prior to graduation. On the National Chiropractic Board of Examiners website (https://www.nbce.org) there are links to all eighteen accredited chiropractic colleges in the United States, each of the schools will list their curriculum and entrance requirements. Comparing these curriculum’s to that of medical schools will prove that Dr. Haines claim that “The clinical training received by chiropractic students is greatly inferior to that of medical students and residents,” is baseless.
    It may benefit Dr. Haines to do some investigative research into any profession he wishes to slander in the future. Or, at the very least, stick to proven and valid facts.

  12. Tom Jones says:

    I have been going to a Chiropractor for about 5 years and had my neck adjusted at each visit. I am still alive.

  13. Chet says:

    Chiropractor Tom said some things that I frankly don’t understand.
    He said:
    <>

    Tom…what does this mean? Do the joints in the body somehow get into the wrong position? Where is the evidence for this? And then, where is the evidence that shows by manipulating these joints somehow makes us healthier?

    I know that chiros use the term “subluxation”. I’ve read from several sources that the definition of a subluxation is a chiropractic one and doesn’t exist is the lexicon of neurologists, radiologists and neurosurgeons. Is this true? Please explain what you mean by subluxation. Would a board-certified radiologist be in accord with your definition?

    I’ve also read that one of the main criticisms of chiropractic is the complete lack of solid scienfific evidence for what they do. Where is the solid scientific body of literature – good literature, not some fly-by-nightj journal – that backs the chiropractic profession.

    Tom then goes on to make analogies to tires being out of alignment and factories working better by maintaining lines of communication. He said that chiropractic is about keeping our bodies running as best as they are able. How? By keeping the lines of communication open, and keeping the structure that supports our bodies in a position to do so. What is he talking about???

    Please explain
    chet

  14. Rush says:

    Perhaps we should ask Dr. Haines how many people died under his care? Im pretty sure more then all chiropractors combined. I do not support DCs but they are “boy scouts” in comparisons to MDs as far as malpractice, dubious treatment and billing is concerned. Just another self serving article. MDs are drug pushers for big pharma nothing more.

    • Double T says:

      Pretty narrow minded thinking on Rush statement. MDs work on many cases that may be life threatening, chiropractors don’t, they, well manipulate spines and do holistic type remedies. Anytime I meet a chiro who calls him/herself a doctor, I say your an embarrassment to the real medical profession.

      • Spelling bee says:

        How about you study English instead of medicine? Your spelling of “your” should have been “you’re”.

      • Carlos M Gonzalez DC says:

        Double T …you obviously have some baggage you’re carrying. There are many types of “doctors” …medical doctors MD, doctors of chiropractic DC, naturopathic doctors ND, doctor of physical therapy, naturopathic medical doctor NMD. One problem is our society has been so brainwashed to think and believe there is only one doctor… the MD. Wake up and get with the times!

  15. Jessica says:

    Anyone ever heard of SPECIFIC UPPER CERVICAL CHIROPRACTIC?? Mr. Michael Shermer??? Do your research before making any kind of opinion. Here are a few testimonials/opinions of those who believed and discovered…

    http://www.upcspine.com/testmon1.asp

    WELCOME TO A NEW LIFE…

    • Jessica says:

      And be sure to check out the entire website and google for your own research. Thank you for believing.

  16. Fred says:

    Science-Based Medicine? You gotta be kidding me. Where’s the science? Can you find it in the research that supposedly supported making Statins the most prescribed drug in the world? Sorry. The evidence is clear: they don’t work. Go here to get clear on that: http://thehealthyskeptic.org/images/statintrialsummary.pdf Yet the American Heart Ass. continues to recommend them as well as (and this is about as lame as it gets) recommending the same low fat, high carb diet that was proven to be a major CAUSE of heart disease as well as diabetes! Where’s the science? Where’s the evidence?

    Every time I see some type of “skeptic” (what a truly ridiculous word) bashing chiropractic, they use the exact same argument as the ones before. Sure it’s easy to poke fun at D.D. Palmer. He was a quirky guy. Magnetic healer? The science is clear and plentiful that there is clear and measurable therapeutic effect from the laying on of hands in most any form. Look it up for yourself silly skeptic. Fact is, Palmer was a visionary (yes, a weird guy, too). He appreciated, perhaps for the first time in modern history, that there was some form of intelligence that underlies the function of the human body. To deny the presence of this intelligence and promote the idea that all of life is just a series of mechanistic or chemical reactions is…well…too incredibly narrow a view to even deal with here. You need more help than I can give you.

    Chiropractic, when properly practiced, deals with stress and interference in the nervous system. Remember…that system that controls every function of the body and mind? Medicine has never even considered that something might just be wrong with this fundamental communication system except as deep pathology such as MS. Isn’t it at least possible that nerve system interference could be related to some forms of disease? How ignorant not to consider such a premise or to dismiss it based on your egotistical and incomplete views. Does this mean that chiropractic is the cure for all ills? Certainly not. Just that a dysfunctional nerve system is a serious thing and should be considered ALWAYS before prescribing toxic drugs or dangerous surgery. Is that such a radical idea? If you answered yes, ask yourself how many people that you know are truly healthier as a result of such treatment. HEALTHIER = MORE energy, MORE vitality, MORE peace and well being, MORE ease and flexibility in the body and so on (sounds a lot like my patients). Do your medical friends really experience that, because I have rarely seen it in over 20 years of practice.

    In summary, I just want to say that most of you “skeptics” seem far more interested in being right without any real critical thinking on your parts. That makes you look really dumb to anyone but your own little inbred circle. I have tested the chiropractic premise again and again over the past 20 years. And while it’s certainly not intended to be a panacea for all disease, it has come through so many times that your little minds would probably explode if you took a really objective look.

  17. jamie says:

    I’m more confused than ever after reading this.

    The article and many comments seem to perpetuate the chest-thumping cynicism of MDs, particularly surgeons and specialists, that I’ve observed. There seems to be an attitude that anyone who hasn’t been through the torture (their words, not mine) of many years of traditional medical school and internship/residency can’t possibly have valid ideas that contradict their own. It’s almost as if their difficult education has caused psychological trauma and PTSD is preventing them from applying common sense and empirical observation to alternative therapies.

    As an example, I recently became interested in the alternative therapies of Dr. Andrew Weil, who runs his own center based at U. of Arizona Medical School. I was curious but skeptical, and wanted to shortcut researching their efficacy myself by asking some specialists at that medical school what they think of his practice. Their response was simply “well, he didn’t even do a residency.”

    I thought, well there must be some efficacy to his methods if this well-respected medical school would give him his own department. Presumably he’s shown some scientifically valid results. But all they could tell me was that he didn’t have to go through the years of grueling work (some might say hazing) that we did, so he’s probably a sham. This is hardly a scientific approach.

    I read this article without a clear opinion for or against chiropractic, but leaning against it just based on common hearsay of its quackery. I’ve never been to a chiropractor (am wary of anyone messing with something as sensitive as my spine). And I stay away from MDs as well whenever possible (don’t trust the influence of big pharma and the high costs they have to cover to maintain their practice). I would consider myself an open-minded skeptic and relatively neutral.

    Now, I still have no idea who to believe. I’m beginning to think that perhaps most MDs have too much baggage to properly evaluate anything outside their own training.

    • Carlos M Gonzalez DC says:

      Jamie, you’re on the right track with your thinking. The only thing I will tell you is that if your spine gets out of wack a good Chiropractic can do wonders!

  18. Steve says:

    I remember the great astronomer an alternative medicine skeptic Carl Sagan who proclaimed that the science behind astronomy is the same science behind medicine that would cure him. He died a few months later from the iatrogenic effects of his chemo and radiation treatments.
    The medical industry is the number one cause of death, higher than cancer,heart disease,diabetes,suicide,murder,and car car accidents COMBINED.
    It was medical doctors that devised the Nazi extermination factories and performed horrible experiments on inmates.
    Medicine has no cure for 99% of all illness. Even the simple common cold eludes the medical profession. There has been no improvement in most cancers. Doctors consider a cancer patient cured if they live 5 years. Well guess what, without chemo and radiation, most cancer patients will live well beyond 5 years. You see, its the medical treatments that kill the patient. I urge you to look into what I have posted. The truth is out there.

  19. Alan says:

    Please all you Chiros trying to defend a practice that has no basis in anything other than in your minds, sublexation is a theory never proven to do anything, placebo effect is as high as 60%, you could hit ur victims in the head with a bag o crap and cure them. If you wanted to be a real health care provider should have went to MD school, but I bet you tired that. I have never met a person that stated they wanted to grow up and be a chiro and I have never heard of anyone not being admitted to chiro schools. On top of that, when you look at chiro bios, most are hacks that went to little know colleges and might have graduated, then after boucing around at various jobs decided on chiro school or should i say ‘learn how to bill medicare/caid school’. Chiros stick to your fring pseudo science and sleep in the bed u made.

  20. Eric says:

    I am a chiropractor.

    It’s quite amazing to me, that MD’s get so caught up in the “chiropractors aren’t REAL doctors” stuff… I never will understand it. Why do you really care? Moreover, why does someone like an RN (with two or three years) feel the need to bash a chiropractor who has at least eight years of college (WELL beyond anything a nurse does). By the way, my mother and sister are RN’s… which I greatly respect. Like I always say, RN’s get great bang for their educational buck. I don’t know too many other jobs where you can go to school for as little as two or three years and command $45,000 plus in most places. My mother’s pay is approaching $80,000 a year… wonderful money for where we live.

    Are there bad chiropractors? ABSOLUTELY. Do the bad chiropractors outnumber the good ones? I honestly couldn’t tell you, but perhaps. Do I feel I can cure everything? No way.

    Here’s what I can tell you. I evaluate everyone on a case-by-case basis. There is no… “Come in three times a week”… until you run out of money or until time ends.
    I often hear, “Chiropractors want you to continue to see them for the rest of your life”. Yeah… and that’s different than any other “doctor” how??? Yep… in 1st grade my eye doctor told me, your eyes are good, don’t worry about every checking them again. In fourth grade, the dentist told me, don’t come back again… your teeth are all perfect.

    So let me get this straight… I should monitor what’s going on with my teeth… and I should monitor what’s going on with my eyes, but to say to hell with my spine?

    I have a couple more ABSOLUTELY TRUE comments (god strike me dead)…

    Last year my wife was in a MVA… she totaled her car. I began working on her right away. I used all the therapies you’d find in a physical therapists office, but I also adjusted her. Within three weeks she was at about 80%. It took another month before that last little bit of pain reduced to nothing. About a week after that, it was Christmas and my brother-in-law comes to town. He asks my wife, “So, after the accident, what doctor did you see?” My wife tells him I worked on her. He says, “No, I mean a real doctor”… which was fine with me, because I’ve heard all of this type of talk directly from their mouths (actually… it’s ALWAYS online and never face-to-face). Here is my question: What would a “real doctor” do with whiplash/muscle spasms? Let’s see… here’s a script for pain relief, and here’s a muscle relaxer. Oh, and I almost forgot… he’s a script for the physical therapist down the road so he/she can try and fix you later.
    MD’s that work in the emergency rooms and in trauma are AMAZING. What I do doesn’t compare to that. But what most MD’s do… is sit in an office, running from room to room prescribing the same thing over and over.

    An accident patient I have been seeing the past month weeks (because physical therapy FAILED horribly), came liming into my office after she had missed the past two weeks of appointments with me. I asked what happened and she said, “I don’t know… my knee started bothering me 10 days ago and I went to the MD. He thought it might be a blood clot behind my knee and I was rushed to the ER. After determining it wasn’t a blood clot, I was sent to an orthopedic surgeon decided he couldn’t do anything with it either… so I was prescribed pain killers and muscle relaxers” (surprise, surprise). So, 10 days later you’re still stumbling around? “YEP… and it’s still killing me, I can’t straighten my leg out.” I loosened the muscles using the activator and trigger point… then adjusted the knee. Leaving the office she was about 50% better than when she came in. By the next morning she was 90% better. Two days later she was at or near 100%. Who knows how long it would have taken if I were a “real doctor”.

    Lastly… this is just a GEM… from just today too:
    I had a patient come into my office (she was referred specifically to me because she heard I was excellent) in SEVERE low back pain. It was so severe I could barely do any orthopedic tests on her. She told me about the burning… the numbness… the shooting pain into the foot and the toes. It was pretty clear to me she needed an MRI stat. I have been practicing for three years as a chiropractor, and I almost instantly know when someone is hurt beyond what I can do for them. (I don’t like surgery because of the many bad results I’ve seen, but sometimes you have no choice.) I wrote the script for the MRI. The patient had already made an appointment with a female D.0. before she came to my office. So, the day after she left my office, she went to that appointment. The D.0. told her she has nerve damage and needs an x-ray first. Ummm… Okay… x-rays are exactly what I like to order to ensure I get great detailed views of the soft tissue. So the D.0. orders the x-rays, I order the MRI. Of course the x-rays showed next to nothing and the MRI showed extensive damage to L5-S1 disc. I of course call the patient and recommend she get a consult with one of the better back surgeons I know down the road. This surgeon will ofter alternatives… shoots… never block, before jumping to surgery. The D.O. refers the patient to: (drum roll please)……. ….. …… a hip and knee specialist?!?!?! WTF??????? When I talked with the patient, even THEY were questioning why they would be going to a HIP and KNEE specialist. ABSOLUTELY TRUE. I and with that I said to the patient… and many of these “guys” have the nerve to call us “quacks”.

    In closing… there are bad chiropractors. There are also bad MD’s, D0’s, RN’s, PT’s, lawyers… etc. It’s not cool to bash all of us because YOU think what we do is BS. By the way, I refer to MD’s and PT’s… because it’s the right thing to do. Heck, last month I had a new patient come in with significant back pain. On her second visit the pain had not significantly improved (which is rare in my clinic). A couple of kidney punches later I determined she needed to see her MD immediately as I suspected a kidney infection. Patient got in the next day, had the labs done where it confirmed the kidney infection. It was just in time, as the patient was two days away from going on a vacation out of the country.

    Anyway… can’t we all just get along??? (Apparently not)

  21. chappie says:

    I’ve seen chiropractors for 30 years off and on. Some are better than others. The best are great. The drug industry, surgeons and most MD’s know that money talks and thats really all they care about.

  22. bodhi2600 says:

    Dear Dr. Shermer,

    interesting, your skeptical stance on chiropractic (feature article, fatal adjustments, how chiropractic kills) maybe you’re also skeptical concerning the value of hairdressers as well. VBS is known to occur in their care too. a little hair washing, a little rotation and stroke goes the unsuspecting customer.

    now, how about providing some equally interesting information on iatrogenic illness and death.

    a few stats concerning patient deaths due to medical procedures will certainly quell the arrogance of your medical brothers.

    i just purchased your book, the believing brain. haven’t started it yet but i must admit…
    now i’m a bit worried about your selective focus.

    dd

  23. bodhi2600 says:

    The Safety of Cervical Manipulation: Putting Stroke Risk in Perspective
    By Anthony Rosner, PhD, LLD [Hon.], LLC

    Several studies have attempted to link chiropractic manipulation to adverse events, the most serious and widely studied being strokes following dissections of the vertebral artery.1-6 To begin to shed light on this problem, several retrospective studies against large population bases have been conducted.
    a large sampling of such studies indicates that the number of serious complications or cerebrovascular accidents (CVAs), as established by researchers from both the chiropractic and medical professions, ranges from one case per 400,000 manipulations to zero in 5 million.

    Data from the Rand Corporation suggests the rate of vertebrobasilar accident or other complications (cord compression, fracture or hematoma) is just 1.46 per million manipulations, with the rates of serious complications and death from cervical spine manipulation estimated to be 0.64 and 0.27 per million manipulations, respectively.

    The risk estimates attributed to cervical manipulation are significantly less (by orders of magnitude) than those associated with various medical procedures and lifestyle activities, as shown in Table 2.16,17-23 In an exhaustive review of risk estimates from multiple phases of life, it can be seen that substantially greater risks attributed to the medical procedures have been deemed “acceptable” by the routine adoption of such terminologies as risk-adjusted mortality rates and net clinical benefits.24 The risks inherent in other lifestyle activities, also appearing to be readily accepted by the public at large, are apparent in Table 2 and again outweigh those associated with cervical manipulation by several orders of magnitude, in striking contrast to the dire warnings about the risks of cervical manipulation in the media.
    for complete article see:
    http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=55350

    dd

  24. Luden says:

    Although her death did occur after having a chiropractic neck manipulation there has not been a cause and effect relationship established between chiropractic manipulation therapies and vertebral artery dissection. Studies have shown that patients who see their medical doctor for symptoms of vertebral artery dissection are just as likely to experience a stroke as those who seek chiropractic care. Your description of chiropractic manipulation as a violent twisting of the neck which causes vertebral artery dissection is inaccurate and misleading, if the adjustment was performed as taught in accredited chiropractic colleges.
    Your claim that there is no medically proven benefit to adjusting the cervical spine is also false. The benefits of cervical adjusting for reduction of pain, radicular symptoms and headaches are vast. Beyond that a recent study showed that chiropractic manipulation of the upper cervical spine creates a sustained measurable dropped in systolic blood pressure. This is just one of the few benefits of chiropractic manipulation.
    Lastly, it must be recognized that not all Chiropractors practice the subluxation theory. Many chiropractors practice very differently from this using evidence based practice and treating areas of hypo-mobility, disc herniation, and soft tissue dysfunction, among other issues. These more modern chiropractors tend to recognize the “bone out of place” pressing on a nerve model as outdated and unlikely and are trained to diagnose and treat what they can and recognize and refer problems that may be outside their scope of practice. Chiropractors are indeed well trained competent doctors who undergo rigorous schooling and board certification. Chiropractors are not medical doctors and do not claim to be but that does not make them any less competent in their diagnoses or treatments.

  25. Tom says:

    I will agree that MD’s don’t like Chiropractors. I will also agree that the quality of care available from both MD’s and Chiropractors can vary from Excellent to Poor. (Thus the joke: “What do you call Med Students who graduate in the bottom 10% of their class?” You call them “Doctor…”). I also know from personal, family, and friend’s experience, that MD’s cannot deal with some problems that Chiropractors can.

    A very personal experience: Six years ago my wife of 45 years developed an intense pain in her neck (that sometimes spread to her left shoulder) that hurt so badly that we went to the ER. They checked her and said she must see her Family Physician. We got in the next day. This is an MD we’d known and respected for more than 30 years. I went in with my wife to see him. He took her through perhaps 20 different positional and rotation tests with her arms, shoulders and neck, but failed to find any problem. He gave her a prescription for pain pills and sent her home. She hurt so badly that she could not even sit and watch TV, only lying down in one particular, stationary position in bed allowed her to rest and sleep. We saw the doctor two days later. Nothing had changed, and the pain pills were useless. He repeated the same tests, gave her a stronger prescription, and sent her home. On a Wednesday morning she awoke with her left arm and (A) Thumb, Index and Middle fingers numb, while her (B) Ring and Little finger were not numb. Even I know that finger set A and B are served by different nerves, so understood that this should tell him exactly were the problem is. But he was unable to identify exactly where the pinched nerve was in her neck, but suggested that she have an MRI “immediately,” but would not make the call for us. On the way home, I asked (and begged) my wife to see my Chiropractor, to see if he could give her some relief. She refused, multiple times. When I called for the MRI from home I was told that (no matter how important it was) they could not see her until the following Wednesday (a full week). So we prepared for the painful week ahead. However, on Saturday morning, I woke up and my wife did not. We found that, apparently, the days of virtual motionless rest had allowed blood clots to form in her legs. During that night, they had broken loose and moved to her lungs = 100% fatal. So we had a funeral instead. BTW – On Wednesday, I received a very huffy call from the MRI office complaining that my wife had missed her appointment. They shut up immediately when I explained that she died 4 days ago because they refused to see her.

    Strangely, about a month later I developed a similar intense pain in my neck and went to see my MD. He repeated the same motion tests he’d done on my wife, and again found nothing. He was writing a prescription for pain pills when I walked out of his office in disgust (never to return). On the way home, I stopped at my Chiropractor’s office. He could see the pain I was in, and saw me within 15 minutes. I described what hurt and what didn’t. He reached around my neck and pressed a point just to the left of my spine – no effect. Then he pressed a point just a bit lower – it was as if I’d been hit by lightening. Now that he knew exactly which nerve was pinched, he “adjusted” my left lower neck/upper back area – the pain was 90% gone. For $12 dollars he sold me a pulley and weight system that hangs from the top of a door that I used for 20 minutes, twice a day at home. It took the weight of my head off my neck, and allowed the nerve to heal as I slowly tipped and rotated my head to different positions. After a week the pain was gone, but I continued for the full month. The problem has not returned in six years.

    Clearly, the “rules” that MD’s are taught to use here were inadequate, while the Chiropractor found the exact spot within a minute, and prescribed a treatment plan that worked.

    So, mister MD – I should just have continued to follow my MD’s lack of knowledge, until he finally figured out what the Chiropractor knew immediately? And perhaps died waiting? I don’t think so.

    I’m not certain it’s related, but about a month later, my MD closed his practice and went into research.

  26. Harold Cable says:

    I have to laugh at all the information listed here on this site.
    Skeptic.com is exactly that skeptical…
    I am a lover of science and that is what drives me, my passions and my life.
    I hear an idiotic statement about Chiropractic being NON-SCIENTIFIC is not only laughable…but a travesty to this site and the statements that the moderator is scientific.
    The comment that chiropractic is like the snake-oil salesman makes me think that maybe some of you naysayers should come forward about 100 years into the present day…(which is 2013 and not the early 1900’s).

    Here is a little science for you all. When you have an irritated nerve in your body…it WILL affect it’s function….and therefore consequently everything connected to it can get irritated also. This is not hocus pocus or a psuedo-science…it is a fact of science.
    A+B=C. Every action has a consequent reaction.

    Now if you take a signal from the brain, send it down the spinal cord via the corticospinal tract to the (for example purposes) sciatic nerve which:

    “supplies nearly the whole of the skin of the leg, the muscles of the back of the thigh, and those of the leg and foot. It is derived from spinal nerves L4 through S3. It contains fibres from both the anterior and posterior divisions of the lumbosacral plexus.” (Thanks Wikipedia for the quote)

    And we get an stressed joint (due to trauma, bad habits or even bad diet leading to this stressed area) this leads to inflammation of an area or joint space which will lead to irritation of a nerve.

    Well when you irritate the nerve…let’s say again…”the Sciatic nerve” and it causes pain in your buttock or back of leg, or causes numbness in your skin of your thigh. This is a symptom of the irritation, and NOT the problem itself.

    So Since A+B=C, and we should be able to reverse the effect by working up the Sciatic nerve to find out where the irritation is….working down from the brain via the corticospinal tract to the sciatic nerve and there is not any symptoms on the way down, but past a certain level of the spine (or sacrum) there is a definitive problem or irritation…chances are that that preceding level is the culprit of disfunction.

    So if you take that joint….which will probably be restricted due to muscular tension and guarding and thus cause irritation. And you help it move in the directions that it normally should (because that is what a joint is made for…MOVEMENT). You should notice an alleviation of the irritation and consequent dysfunctional reactions…and your body should return to NORMAL FUNCTION.

    THAT IS SCIENCE, Not only is it Scientific, it is Re-Produceable and Verifiable via many techniques and disciplines ranging from Medical to Chiropractic to Physical or Massage therapists.

    So I have to have a huge belly laugh when I hear such BLATANTLY STUPID RHETORIC… and say…please study some more before you open that hole in the front of your head. Oh and “scientifically” we call that a “mouth.”

    HAHA….Love IT!!

    • clem martin says:

      Cute story, but inaccurate.

      Consider that pain is an ascending afferent sensation/stimulus and the corticospinal tract is an ascending pathway. The corticospinal tract would carry information to the cortex not to the sciatic nerve.

      Sorry. This kind of neurophysiological error loses chiropractic credibility in the scientific community.

      • Douglas Ellington says:

        Clem, the corticospinal track is a descending pathway not an ascending pathway. Also this tract does not carry information to the cortex. It receives it’s signals from the cortex where it arises from and ends in the grey matter on the spinal cord at the level that it terminates. Along the way areas that receive neuronal input by the corticalspinal tract will send signals to the ventral root that goes to the striated muscles which induce movement. When the corticospinal tract ends in the grey matter it can synapse with the lower motor neurons that don’t innervate muscles. Thus the corticospinal tract is efferent and not afferent as you suggested.

        As we are all human and all make errors don’t make a judgement on one person. Neuroanatomy is very complex and it appears that Harold made a simple example to help with his explanation. Does it go into all complex details of neuroanatomy? No. Is there more to what all occurs? Yes. A lot more and it is way beyond the scope of this forum. No one remembers everything they’ve been taught and studied.

        Making a judgement on many people based on an error of one, due to human nature, is very flawed. Let he who is without guilt cast the first stone.

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