Chiropractic: What does it do?

I know we’ve had threads on this in the past but it seems pretty filled with woo.

I’m at my county fair and staring at a chiro booth. It has a sign saying it can help ‘You or your child’ with:

Bed wetting
Sinus Problems
Ear Infections
Digestive Problems
Sleeping Difficulties

I can see a few of those. But some of them seem a really heavy lift to justify.

What’s the scoop?

The scoop is a scam.

From Wikipedia: “Systematic reviews of this research have not found evidence that chiropractic manipulation is effective, with the possible exception of treatment for back pain. A critical evaluation found that collectively, spinal manipulation was ineffective at treating any condition.”

I.e., over priced, poor quality masseuse who can easily cause permanent harm.

Note there are sort of two types of Chiropractors:

The old school completely woo and then some type. “Aligning your spine will fix your gallbladder.” Many of these have gotten into useless, overpriced supplements, etc. This sounds like the OP’s type.

The “modern” type that focuses on direct manipulation for easing pain in that body part, etc. I.e., the back stretching/popping stuff is to fix your back.

The first should be avoided since it’s flushing money down the drain completely. The second should be avoided since a physical therapist or a massage therapist will do a better, safer job.

The proper alignment of bills in your wallet.

The theory behind it is to thin your wallet down so it isn’t causing you to sit crooked. The best and cheapest solution is to buy a second wallet and distribute the load.

Some chiropractors do learn and apply some useful things, in the same way that some astrologers do - they are both bad fields that contain some good people. (Just as it’s impossible to keep all bad people out of other fields, it’s impossible to keep all good people out of chiropractic.) But the basis of chiropractic is not valid, and whatever good comes from a chiropractor is essentially by accident.

I went to a chiropractor who worked with physical therapists and massage therapists. The combination of them made some pretty serious improvements to my sciatica, far more than just PT and drugs alone (which is how I treated my first few flareups).

For sciatica or other back issues that specifically involve a misalignment of the spine, a chripcarter is actually pretty useful, IMHO, however, for pretty much anything else, I don’t really think so.
On second thought, maybe the bedwetting, as, if you tell your child that if they wet the bed again, they have to see the chiropractor again, that may actually be enough of an incentive to help out. j/k

That’s my experience, too. Very effective at treating some back and neck issues I’ve had over the years, but I stay away from attempts to treat other things, like stomach or liver problems or anything non-spine or non-joint related. And you have to find a good chiropractor, too, as there are lot of bad ones out there. Definitely get a recommendation from someone you trust.

I live in a city that has a college of chiropractic, so I’ve seen evidence of it all. Veterinary chiropractic? REALLY? If someone tried to give my cat an adjustment, they’d need to put on Kevlar beforehand.

If they do spinal adjustments for appropriate spinal issues, and like k9befriender said, work with OTs and PTs and are willing to refer patients to a physician, or even refuse to treat them if it’s not appropriate, they’re legitimate. OTOH, anything else? Woo city.

My mother was seriously injured by one when I was a baby, and spent a week in the hospital and later ended up having back surgery a few years after that, and for this reason, I just plain old won’t see one. She’s told the story many times of her childhood friend who went to one for her allergies :dubious: , and truthfully, back then (1940s), that was as good a treatment as anything “legitimate” medicine had to offer. And several years ago, one of my FBFs had her first grandchild, and posted pictures on Facebook of him having his first adjustment, at which time he was less than a week old! :eek: He didn’t look like he was enjoying this, either. She swore that a DC cured his mother’s ear infections, although (and I didn’t tell her this) chances are, she would have been done with them anyway because she got the right antibiotic.

I do have a friend who, shortly after her college graduation, was having chronic migraines that defied conventional treatment and her health insurance had not yet kicked in. She saw a poster somewhere about a time and place for free adjustments, to train chiropractic students, and had one. She never had another migraine! She doesn’t care how it worked, just that it did.

I did work many years ago with a pharmacist who started chiropractic school while we still worked together. (He’s now retired from both careers.) He had some real doozy stories, like being criticized for mentioning physicians, and there was the classmate who was taking his freshman year for the FOURTH time. Why was he doing this? Well, in addition to his tuition checks presumably being good, he thought that being a doctor would improve his chances of getting laid. (Dude, if the chicks weren’t lining up before, they won’t afterwards either.)

Also, they occasionally kill you. Which–to be fair–would cure all that ails you.

I visit a chiropractor now and again. His opinion, and mine, is that it can help back pain for many people. He feels in addition that it may help some other conditions related to back pain but I remain a little skeptical on that call.

I go to him because he strikes me as realistic and honest and the adjustment, when I am feeling the pain, help the pain go away. Anything else I head for my GP/GS.

Why would you doubt a health practitioner who works out of a booth at the county fair? :slight_smile:

In my experience lots of “old school” chiropractors stick to musculoskeletal complaints. The problem is that economic model greatly limits one’s income.

These days, your big money chiro has branched out into lots of lucrative areas. We have one locally who advertises a ton (including full-page newspaper ads) touting the services of his “integrative and functional medicine” operation, which claims to treat diabetes, food sensitivities and thyroid conditions (among other things) and offers “stem cell” treatments. Are these claims evidence-based? Hoo-hah, that’s just what those M.D.s beholden to Big Pharma would ask! A chiro like this doesn’t stuff you full of drugs (“nutritional supplements” might be another story) and gets to the magical “root cause” of disease. :dubious:

My advice would be to avoid like the plague any chiro who alleges (s)he can treat internal medical complaints, and (if you feel the need) only see one who does relatively gentle hands-on therapy for competently diagnosed chronic musculoskeletal pain that doesn’t respond to usual medical therapies such as rest, gentle exercise and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (bearing in mind that massage therapists and physical therapists have about as good a track record as chiros for handling such problems, probably don’t charge as much and are less apt to try to sell you woo). And above all, keep chiros away from your neck (see Darren’s link). The risk of paralysis or death isn’t terribly high from neck cracking, but any such hazards are unacceptable for a procedure with at best minimal benefit.

  • I once saw a chiro spreading the Good News at a booth at a Lowe’s home improvement center. I guess you gotta go where the [del]marks[/del] potential patients are.

I went to one about a year ago. My left arm and hand had slowly gone numb over the previous 3-6 months. The top of my arm and the back side of my hand plus the tips of my index and middle fingers had no sensitivity. My GP was recommending a neurosurgeon. My wife had used a chiropractor once or twice. I went to see what’s up. After about 4 visits, with neck adjustments, the numbness became a tingling. About 6-8 visits later most of the feeling had permanently returned. All together that was about 2 months worth of visits.
I know, anecdotes aren’t data. Most of the other ailment cures listed I put in the woo category. Ear infections?
We do have my teenage daughter visiting now for her all the time headaches. Our GP doesn’t really have a clue nor the specialist he recommended we send her to.

Mr.Wrekker was probably ADHD. A kid who couldn’t sit still and all that goes with that. His Mother was a stickler for kids being “seen but not heard”. She had high expectations. At the time no one could name his problem. A pediatrician wanted him on tranquilizers and she wouldn’t do it. So…she took him into a Chiropractor. He adjusted him for over a year. They claim he was cured by this Chiropractor.
Mr.Wrekker says he just taught him how to sit still for candy. After adjustments he would sit in a chair and not move, they timed him and he got m&ms for how many minutes he could sit. Expensive training, I’d say.

I think chiropractic is useful for some neuromusculoskeletal disorders and nothing else.

Chiroquackers are frauds, pure and simple. If you see one, you’re literally putting your life in their hands. The only thing they can reliably relieve is having too much money.

I had a friend eons ago who went to one for herself and her dog! Her money, her business, but my opinion of her dropped just a bit when I found out.

I am always impressed by the power and predictive value of patient testimonials.

Here are some especially convincing ones for urotherapy.*

*drinking your own urine. Works for musculoskeletal pain, or so they say.

It is probably better to treat pain with PT and massage than with chiropractic. If your spine is misaligned, in isn’t snapped back into place with adjustments - you have scoliosis or some other serious problem.

(Massage will give you better short term gains, PT is for long term).

Also trigger point injections. TPIs are great for certain types of muscular issues.

Kaiser Permanente is very big on proactive care and won’t spend a penny on anything that doesn’t have a strong evidence case for efficacy–they will not reimburse a penny for chiropractors, but they do for acupuncture so there you go.

All I know is that when I go to the chiropractor, I am at a 7 or 8 on the pain scale, and when I get off his table, I’m down to a 3 or 4. Massage therapy didn’t have nearly that much of an effect.

PT didn’t have nearly as good a short term effect, in fact, I’d usually be in more pain after a session than before. I will say that PT has probably had a very significant effect over the long term though, as I have not had a bad flare-up in many years now.

Chiropractic didn’t fix the problem, but he cured the immediate symptoms that was preventing me from being able to function.

That, and I haven’t wet the bed even once since I started seeing him. :wink: