Resolved: Chiropractors are quacks and their patients are suckers


Golly, what side of the issue are you on?

It’s been done. Somebody will be along to point you to the old thread(s) in a minute.

So are optometrists and opthamologists if you have 20/20 vision. If a chiropractror claims to be able to solve anything besides back pain, then he’s a quack.

My wife recently started going to a chiropractor. Some of the reading materials they sent home with her were a bit smarmy, I think, I’ll have to check them out when I get home so I can provide examples - one part I remember was a Q&A where the question was ‘Is getting adjusted addictive?’ and the answer was that technically it wasn’t, but once you know how good it feels to be adjusted you won’t want to go out of adjustment again, and you are more sensitive to your spine being out of whack. Another thing that makes me suspicious is they told her that spouses often fail to see chiropractic treatment as ‘real’ and they wanted her to bring me in on her next visit so they could help convince me it was legit so I could provide a ‘support system’. She told them that wasn’t necessary, I’m behind her all the way and they kept insisting it was a good idea to bring me in anyway. I have some doubts about it, but my insurance covers it and if it makes her feel better, it’s all good.

Good points - they told her on the first visit that treatment often includes a combination of painkillers, muscle relaxants, and tranquilizers - get some damn good 'scrips out of this. Also, they are helping my wife get a boob job and have it covered by our insurance, she has large breasts and they hurt her back and are generally uncomfortable for her, she’s been wanting a reduction for a while now.

I used to go to a chiropractor about every 2-3 months for an adjustment - always walked out feeling better than when I walked in, never had any problems.

So, um… I disagree.


Chiropractors - particularly the more sensible ones - have genuine expertise with the spine. So, if you have a back problem, they can help you with it. A friend of mine has a floating vertebra, and swears by chiropractors when it comes to keeping that condition under control.

On the other hand, a chiropractor who claims to be able to cure anything other than back pain should be looked at with the greatest suspicion.

The “regular adjustments” thing is a feature of several “alternative” therapies, and seems to me to be deeply dubious - it looks as though they regard the human body as a delicate, temperamental mechanism which needs to be re-tuned at regular intervals. My medical knowledge is, frankly, extremely limited, but what little I do know suggests that, in fact, the body is quite good at getting itself back into working order. Of course, a visit to the alternative health practitioner of your choice may make you, subjectively, feel better - but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the treatment is objectively doing you any good.

I am sure that many, perhaps most, chiropractors are competent professionals who provide genuine relief for patients with back problems. However, there are others who claim that their spinal manipulations can cure a wide variety of other ailments. Some of these are dangerous quacks. I am speaking from personal experience here.

A few years ago, when I was in school, my mother began going to a chiropractor, and recommended that I go. I had no health problems, but my mother said the chiropractor could diagnose problems I didn’t even know I had, and then cure them. So I went a few times, just to keep mom happy.

The chiropractor would begin our sessions by taking my temperature, but not in any normal way. She held a wand-like device near various parts of my body, and “readings” would appear on a printer. I could not make sense of the printouts, but the quack assured me that they showed my body temperature was too high.

I would then lie on a table, which the doc would adjust to a near-vertical angle, for my adjustment. However, this was not what you would ordinarily think of as an adjustment. The doctor would tap on various points on my back repeatedly. There was no deep manipulation of the muscled, no massaging, nothing that felt like it affected anything deep in my body. Just lots of tapping.

The quack usually said she could feel some tension at certain points, indicating that I had gone through some trauma, say from bumping a body part, or from a sudden stop in the car, or from some similar jolt. She claimed she could tell exactly how many days it had been since the jolt. The number of days was always betwen three or four weeks; long enough that I couldn’t remember every little detail of the day she gave, so I couldn’t say for sure that she was wrong. The doctor claimed that her tap-tap-tapping removed the lingering ill effects of the jolt. If I didn’t get these “adjustments” from her on a periodic basis, she said, the cumulative effects of many such jolts over the course of the lifetime would lead to many health problems in my old age, especially breathing problems.

At the end of a session, she would take another temperature reading, and show me that my temperature had gone down. Or so she said; I don’t know what those printouts showed. In any case, I think she may have got the results she wanted by pulling the trigger on the wand-thing for a shorter time.

I read in the newspaper a few months ago that the chiropractor was the subject of a hefty malpractice suit. It seems she told an epileptic patient to stop taking her medicine, since the adjustments were all she needed to avoid a seizure.

Again, I’m not condemning all chiropractors. I’m just saying the bad ones are really, really bad. What sort of training did this person go through? Did she actually believe what she told her patients? If anyone out there wants to go to a chiropractor, get all the information you can about them from someone you trust, and make sure they actually will be working only on your back.

Not only can chiropractors help with back pain, but some other kinds of pain, such as headaches, can be relieved, too. At least they were for me.

But my ex-brother-in-law the chiropractor was one of those flaming wackos who thinks adjustments can prevent cancer, etc.

A good clue as to whether you are seeing a quack chiro - do they consider themselves a partner to the standard medical community? Or do they make a lot of statements that would lead one to believe they have a disdain for traditional medical practices?

If it’s the latter, look for feathers, a bill and webbed feet.

When I was a freshman in high school I used to get head aches and neck pain (stress, probably) so I saw the chiropractor my mom worked for then - the woman when to the chiropractic college (last I heard there was only one just for it) yadda yadda. It helped, though the noise of bones going back into place was a little disconcerting, and I disliked having to lie still for so long after the adjustments. Eventually I stopped having both pains, so I stopped going. So…I think they help cure pain, and that’s about all I think about them.

A member of my family is a chiropractor, and has been for over 35 years. And yes, he’ll definitely agree with most of you: A good chiropractor can help back and neck pain, some shoulder and other joint pain, and can, to a limited extent, diagnose and/or help treat a few other maladies, just as an optometrist or dentist can uncover a problem that is technically not within their scope of expertise.

Anything else is indeed a quack.

And he’s been trying to argue “his side” for decades, since being a “chiropractor” is not as well-recognized as the more mainstream medcial professions, which leads to “quacks” simply hanging otu a shingle and declaring themselves a “chiropractor.”

Much as respected surgeons have had to fight the image of the back-alley and unsafe liposuctionist or fly-by-night boob-job cutter. Call it the “Doctor Nick” syndrome. :smiley:

If the chiropractor tells you you need to make “regular visits to keep things in line”, that he/she can cure- or even help cure- major or minor maladies that have little to do with the spine or the actual joint in question, that regular adjustment can provide certain benefits (prevent cancer, stop migraines, cure internal ailments like ulcers, etc, and so on) or, most notably, doesn’t actually make an adjustment- the “cracking bones” noise elfkin mentions, then yes indeed, that individual is a quack of the highest caliber.

Look at their certificate. If it doesn’t say “Palmer College” on it, chances are it’s bogus.

Setec- what you went to was the very definition of a quack. For various medical-ethics reasons, since they’re not actually accredited chiropractors, they can’t actually adjust/manipulate you. Therefore they come up with some voodoo, like the temperature wand or a reflex-hammer massage or just a plain backrub, to at least make it look like they’re doing something.

These cracks always looked painful/dangerous… Has anybody ever had their neck snapped or something from one of these guys?

A great website for separating the wheat from the chaff, chiropractic-wise:

You would be wrong.

Chiropractors can’t treat chronic lower back pain either. Their practice is based on the idea of a chiropractic subluxation, or partial dislocation of the vertebrae putting pressure on nerves and creating health problems.

These alleged subluxations cannot demonstrated on X-ray, and no two chiropractors will diagnose the same subluxations.

Chiropractors can relieve acute spasm of the lower back almost as well as ibuprufn (the effects of adjustment do not last as long as ibuprufn - there is no long lasting effect). They cannot treat any other medical problem.

I was involved in a thread with a set of such spine crackers on another board. One of them claimed to be able to treat nerve deafness. How he could do this with adjustments of the neck and spine, when none of the nerves that control hearing pass thru the spine (the auditory nerve is a cranial nerve) he never explained.

The plural of anecdote is not data. Check out for extensive discussion and tons of scientific studies on this and related subjects.


Two kinds of chiropractors: those who think they can fix your back and those who think they can fix your life.

Avoid the latter.

Shodan wrote:

That’s not quite true. According to, which is part of the highly skeptical Chirobase website, a chiropractor can also relieve muscle-tension headaches.

Then again, ibuprofin can do that, too…

That is the best line I’ve seen. is there an attributation for it???

Eons ago, when I was in college and taking some nursing courses, it was a common fact that all Chiropractors were Snake Oil Salesmen - and women, peddling a bunch of crap to the ignorant masses. This was reinforced by people who had attended Chiropractic courses who told us how the students were taught to hype up certain treatments and encouraged to get certain machines that looked impressive but gave dubious treatment results.

According to the instructors, Chiropractors could cure almost all illness by manipulating the bones.

Well, Medical Doctors were, naturally, not real pleased with this misinformation and pretty well hated Chiropractors. That is, until sometime in the 80s when Doctors suddenly discovered that a Chiropractor could manually manipulate minor spine and joint displacements back into alignment within an hour while they had to put the patient in traction for a week or so. New doctors, while knowing full well that Chiropractors could not cure almost all illnesses, started sending some patients to them for bone adjustments.

Chiropractors could actually do some good for patients with arthritis, in less time than a physical therapist could, with less pain and expense. Adjusting the spine by realigning the vertebrae was actually pretty much a good thing. Chiropractors could help free stiff joints, manipulate the neck to adjust it and actually ease chronic stiff necks, some headaches, back pain and, naturally, the patients worry.

Chiropractors started showing up rejecting the big hype they learned in some schools and were not claiming to be able to cure all illnesses, stopped buying impressive but dubiously beneficial equipment, and concentrated on the manipulation of bones and tendons. Their skilled hands, in cooperation with medical doctors, could shorten the duration of some injuries, sometimes even decrease the potential need for corrective surgery, decrease the need for weeks in traction, kept arthritic joints mobile, stretched contracted tendons, muscles and stiff joints and, in quite a few cases, shortened the duration of specific illnesses.

Many people with various aches and pains have found it cheaper to go to a chiropractic and get expertly pummeled, cracked, popped, stretched and worked to ease certain pains and problems than to go to a doctor, get expensive x-rays, tests, examinations and have to take costly medications that would cure the problem over a greater length of time. So, some doctors recommend chiropractic’s now and many chiropractic’s refer patients to doctors.

A chiropractic knows more about manipulating the bones than a doctor does, and realizes that doctors know more about diseases of the body than they do. Now, there is a form of cooperation being produced, though there are still some problems to overcome.

My Aunt has crippling arthritis and is in assisted living but going regularly to a chiropractic, with her doctors blessings, not only makes her feel better mentally, but helps keep her joints mobile, helps keep her muscles in tone, gets her out of her expensive but tiny room now and then, and gives her something to look foreword to. She might be in pain afterwards for a time, but she always feels better when it eases.

Sure, nothing less than joint replacement could really help her, but she’s too old and too sick to undergo such major surgery. So, the chiropractic is actually helping her to live a better life and her doctor has no problem with this.

I will let better-informed Dopers take on LightTracer’s claims—but as a writer and editor, something has been driving me crazy (hijack ahead): “chiropractic” is an ADJECTIVE. “Chiropractic” what? Treatment? Practitioner? Shouldn’t you go to a chiropractor for chiropraction? Or chiropracty? If they can’t even use the English language correctly, why should I trust them with my spinal column?

And don’t even get me started on how those fluff-headed “vegans” don’t know how to pronounce a word whose root is “vegetables” . . .

This online medical dictionary gives the name of the discipline as “chiropractics”… but it also lists “chiropractic” as a noun, as do other online dictionaries I’ve checked. Evidently, it’s just one of those words that’s both a noun and an adjective, depending on context. Probably puts on a false beard and moonlights as a preposition as well.