Chiropractors - quacks or not?

I’ve always been a skeptic. Honestly.

I have some serious degenerative issues with my lower back. We have most of that under control now, thanks to modern medicine. My rheumatologist has sent me to a sports medicine and rehab specialist for some upper back issues (I spend too much time at the piano and/or working with dogs, it’s enough to seriously screw up your back and shoulders… not helping the lower back issues!)

The Rehab dude, a friendly old chap, has me doing all sorts of nifty exercises to help, but also sent me to their clinic chiropractor.

Chiropractors, to me, always sounded like pure quacks. A little “crack” here, a little “crack” there, and all better… Well, this guy turned out to be rather interesting. He’s into sports medicine, and treats a lot of the local pro-sports players (football, basketball, baseball). He’s into long-term improvement and strengthening rather than cracking and adjusting ad eternam.

I have to admit I have been walking out of his office with reduced pain, better range of motion, and far more relaxed muscles. Something must be working.

What’s your take on Chiros and their art?

Couldn’t live without one.

I started going when I was 15 due to gait problems and chronic neck pain. I discovered after the first couple of weeks that my right hand had been relatively numb for all of my life that I could recall to that point. (I am left handed and assumed without questioning it that peoples’ “off-hand” must have less acuity than their dominant hand. Sounds dumb but it just never came up before then.)

During the original workup, the chiro was looking at my spine and said, “Tell me, do you have difficulty with {medical issue}?”

Me: Um, er, yep.

Him: “Uh-huh. I can see that right here (jabs a vertebra part way down my back)” He had no medical history of mine prior to the first appointment.

Cut to a few years later. My wife is having increasing difficulty with migraines and muscle spasms in her neck. Doesn’t want to see the “quack”, but ultimately she’s pulling the car over once or twice a day to vomit from migraine-related nausea.

Three months of treatment and she hasn’t had a migraine since. that was about 10 years ago.

I have a very good friend who is an MD and a smart, reasonable fellow…until the topic of chiropractic comes up. Then, he starts frothing at the mouth about the absolute uselessness of the treatment. Now, I realize that in the extreme, some chiros will claim to be able to treat anything and that conventional medicine is unnecessary and barbaric, but certainly I have enough evidence personally to value the positive contribution chiro makes to my life and that of my family.

I was always skeptical as well. But after a stupid fall, I did some damage to my ribs and shoulder that the physical therapist just could not work all the way out. So I went to a chiro (recommended to me by two co-workers).

My chiro is a strange mix–he seems to believe some of the more “new age” parts of chiro that I don’t agree with, but he is a wonder for fixing my upper back problems, and working out the remains of a neck problem I have had for quite a while. He believes in both strengthening your muscles and better posture and all the bio-mechanical things I agree with and respects that I don’t necessarily believe chiro care can cure everything.

He also doesn’t insist that I come for a set schedule of appointments now that I’ve worked through the majority of my problem–I can go more for maintenance on the things that will probably never be quite right. One of the reasons I was skeptical of going was that other folks I knew that had gone to chiros in the past had ended up going once a month forever; since my chiro doesn’t seem to think that’s necessarily a benefit, I’m a happy to go see him when I need him.

So, I think chiropractic care is good if you can find a doctor you are comfortable with.

Thanks to you guys for your quick replies…

Yeah, I really lucked out. The Physical Medicine and Rehab doc sent me to an in-clinic chiro. He’s not into the new age stuff, or the “chiros can cure ya of all that ails ya!” He treats local pro-athletes, so he’s more into a kind of rehabilitation version of chripractic stuff. Sure, he does some pop n’ snap, n’ adjusting, but he’s also helping me develop an exercise program (he was on the medical staff for the US Sydney Olympic team and did a lot of PT kind of work) to help strengthen some stuff.

He’s a really interesting guy, and I’m glad he is not the kind to pull out the Hocus-Pocus that I have heard some people say when talking about chiropractic care…

There are some really *really * bad quacks in this lot. You have to be very careful.

DeHusband has had a herniated disk in his lower back for years. He was in an accident several years ago that gave him severe whiplash (which I never thought was a real thing until he couldn’t move). He goes to his MD who, after medicine and x-rays, sent DeHusband to certain chiropractor. The Chiro does several sessions on DeHusband’s neck and worked wonders. But the Chiro would only do a little with the lower back because DeHusband “should only have that treated by an MD” and consulted with DeHusband’s MD on an exercise regime to slowly strengthen his lower back. And the Chiro stopped DeHusband’s treatments without dragging it on for ever and a day. This guy helped and didn’t cause any harm.

YMMV. Just be careful and check out the Chiro before you go.

I had a good experience with a chiro and lots of lower back pain (herniatied disk and sciatic involvement).
He used a table that was basically a two piece thing that broke apart and pivoted at the hips (when you layed down on your stomach). This device was able to seperate my lower back parts and open the spacing between the disks allowing the compressed whatevers to decompress. Relief at last.
I now simulate the action of the table by hanging by my hands from the rafters in the garage and slightly rocking my hips back and forth while allowing the disks to seperate. It’s been working for a couple of years now.
I was so bad at one point that the back specialist would have operated if the pain persisted any longer.
I only have to relax my back by hanging about twice a week now. It used to be several times a day, so something is working. I credit the chiro for the initial recovery and I credit ME for figuring out how to take care of it myself.

Go you UncommonSense!

Sounds like traction with some rotation to it. We’re doing some of that in PT right now, and the chiro is doing some too.

Guess I’m on the right track with this guy. He’s pretty down to earth and more interested in long term progress than keeping me going once a week to cure me of the common cold and everything else :smiley:

It depends. I’m a skeptic, too, and if you go to CSICOP’s site or some of the ones they link to, you’ll find plenty of criticism of chiropractic and its underlying theory. Martin Gardner has written about them at some length.

On the other hand, Peper Mill has gone to them for yuears, following an auto accident. She and others have reported having chiropracters recommended to them by doctors. And the visits seem to make a difference.

There seems to be a trend – whever chiropractors are dealing with aches and pains associated with bones and joints that they fix through manipulations, massage, and sadistic-seeming stretching, they seem to have some success. It’s the ones who claim t correct physical conditions unrelated (in any clear way) to bones and joints (such as fixing your liver, or circulation, or whatever) that they become untrustworthy and off-the-wall.
I might go to a chiropractor for an aching back, but not for stomache trouble.

Chiropractice can be very helpful for back and posture problems, but a lot of what Chiropractitioners claim doesn’t echo !

I’ve been to two chiropractors, one indifferent, one excellent. I had screwed up my neck lifting heavy things the wrong way, and the good chiropractor was able to fix it in a way that was pretty close to instant gratification. The indifferent chiropractor, on the other hand, wasn’t able to do anything for me. So get recommendations first.

And by the way, I think it’s true that most chiropractors give a wide berth to the kind of quackery that was prevalent a few decades ago.

There’s a group of chiropracters that I’ve seen a link to before (unfortunately I can’t recall their name) who are the “good chiropractors” - against the subluxation quacks, etc. Their member list is often listed as a “good place to start” when looking for a non-quackish one, and if anybody has the association’s name I’m sure that would be of some usefulness in this thread.

I suggest reading up at I put them in the “Quack” arena along with naturopaths, acupuncturists and Amway salespeople.

The theory of chiropractic is total quackery.
A “good” chiropractor is one who ignores the theory of chiropractic.
Fails the smell test for me.

What’s really crazy is the Ohio BWC takes the word of chiropractors as medical diagnoses, even if it’s contradicted by actual doctors.

Elenfair- I hate to snark, but you are a member, and there’s been quite a few real good threads on this recently.

For example:

My Chiro is my best friend. Actually I don’t know him that well, but I couldn’t live without him. I need to make another appointment to see him.

Chiropractors primary function is the manipulation of the spine to reduce back pain. If they do anything else its quackery. :wally

Maybe this doctor knows that the plural of anecdote is not data.

I’m pleased that you and your wife have experienced pain relief, but you may be attributing too much of that to your chiro treatment:

Why Bogus Therapies Seem to Work

I’ve been to one several times and will go back if I feel I need to. He straightened me out, so to speak, and helped me with my neck and arm.

I’ve been going to a chiro regularly for the last couple months. It has definitely made a difference. I have a congenital spinal anomaly - a couple of my vertabrae are deformed. It’s not correctable, but the curvature was throwing the rest of my (otherwise straight) back out of whack. I couldn’t walk or stand for long periods of time without lots of pain. I had been assured when I was diagnosed with the anomaly when I was 12 that it wasn’t a big deal, so I actually went to my doctor to ask for advice on a breast reduction; it hadn’t occurred to me that it was my spine causing the pain. My MD took one look at my back and shipped me off to the chiro instead.

My chiro seemed pretty awed by my x-ray (I get a lot of “I’ve never seen anything like this before!” I’m special) and told me there was nothing he could do about the deformed vertabrae, but that the rest of my spine was curving to compensate. I was nervous about quackery too, but for the first time since I can remember, my shoulders are level. (Not that I was a freaky hunchback, but if I pointed it out, my left shoulder was visibly higher than my right.) I can walk for miles and am okay. I used to have to consciously release my shoulder muscles several times throughout the day, now they’re relaxed all the time.

Is it placebo or nothing more than a massage would do? I dunno, but I’m having a hard time caring.