Resolved: Chiropractors are quacks and their patients are suckers

Resolved? I think not.

My chiropractor is a wonderfully talented individual with a wealth of knowledge and skill. When I was having recurring problems with my back he was the person I went to. His treatment gave nearly immediate relief and the exercise he advised has kept me from going back for many years.

The last time I saw him was when I had been in a car accident and could barely stand up due to multiple dislocations of most of my vertabrae. He had me back in fighting shape after half a dozen visits.

He lives 50 miles from here and I’m thinking that I should probably book an appointment the next time I am in his area, it’s been a long time since my last check-up.

I never considered myself a “sucker” either.

LightTracer wrote:

[QUOTEWell, 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.[/QUOTE]

That’s not the only reason. According to

“For years, the AMA made no bones about their disapproval of chiropractic, which was featured in their Committee on Quackery. But the chiropractors fought back and won a significant lawsuit against the AMA in 1976 for restraint of trade.”

Eve wrote:

Nonsense. We all know “vegan” is derived from the star Vega. :wink:

Eve, THANK YOU!! I’m glad somebody else shares my confusion over the word. Chiropractic - the “ic” makes it an adjective. But everyone treats it like a noun. I keep thinking it should be “chiropractice”.

Steve Wright, the problem is that in the English language, certain suffixes are applied to root words to indicate their status. Nouns have “tion” and “ment” and “or” and “er” and “ice”. Adjectives have “al” and “ive” and “ic”.

Of course the English language is rife with exceptions to every rule, so this just happens to be an (stupid in my opinion) exception.

On the one hand, I am personally acquainted with a husband/wife team of chiropractors who are sensible, caring people who never claim to fix something they can’t.

OTOH, the Better Half has a female acquaintance who went to a chiropractor for back pain last week, and was told that the problem was that she had “dislocated a rib”, specifically, the top rib on her left side.

Anybody in this thread care to explain how you dislocate a rib? :smiley: And yes, she was quite certain that he said “rib”, not “vertebra”. She seemed puzzled, too.

Oh, and the “doctor” wants to see her three times a week, for as long as her bank balance holds out. She’s got a nice little retirement nest egg socked away. :rolleyes: The obvious question is, whether he’d have diagnosed anything at all if she’d been on Medicare…

Hey, is there any legitimacy to a printout showing muscle stress that was supposedly detected electrically? My wife’s chiropractor recently gave her one. Seemed a bit fishy to me, but I do know that muscular tension can be detected with electrodes.

As a medical student myself, and having been through the application procedure to the various medically related post-graduate institutions, and furthermore having witnessed plenty of chiropractors, podiatrists, etc, etc in day-to-day medicine, I have 3 things to say:

  1. The people that apply to and attend schools of chiropractry are invariably “medical school rejects.” I’m sure there’s exceptions, but the MAJORITY of people in a D.O. (Osteopathic med), Podiatry, or Chiropractic school are only there because they couldnt get into medical school.

  2. Chiropractry violates the a central principle of medicine. Curative (fix) AND Palliative (feel better) measures are the hallmark of “good” medicine (sure, there’s plenty of M.D.'s who do one or the other, but they’re “bad” doctors, and the vast majority of the field aims to do both). Chiropractry is purely palliative. As an example, while doing a neurology rotation, I see lots of people with slipped/herniated disks. TONS AND TONS of them have been to the chiropractor. Most of them just needed a simple surgical procedure that’s cheap (as surgery goes), and on an out-patient basis. However, many had been going to the chiropractor for YEARS with little cure, but plenty of pain relief. Worthless. Just plain worthless. If you have a damn knife through your hand, taking tons of tylenol wont make the pain go away. ONLY TAKING THE DAMN KNIFE OUT WILL.

  3. Chiropractry is on the average considerably more expensive than a visit to the REAL doctor. Yet, a neurologist will take maybe 2 visits pre-surgery, and maybe 2-3 more post (at the very most), and you’re done. Your back should stop hurting. Chiropractry patients typically visit many many times continually over many years.
    So dont argue with me. Chiropractors are quacks, pure and f’ing simple.

I am not arguing the existence of quacks, because I think quacks come in all flavors, including people who have graduated medical school.

But I have a close friend and a brother in law who have each graducated chiropractic college in the last two years, and I know this much: the schooling they receive is almost the same as medical school. It is unbelievably intense, grueling, and comprehensive. I think the only things they don’t study are pharmacology and psychiatry.

What they end up doing with that education can be quackery, just as it can be with an MD, but there’s no denying the quality fo the ediucation itself.

(I do not visit a chiropracter, so I have no srtrong feelings either way. But the education amazed me so I just thought I’d mention it.)


Duck Duck Goose wrote:

Actually, there is a little joint in the sternum – the place where the ribs meet in the front of the ribcage. This joint flexes slightly, and it’s even possible to “crack” the sternum joint the same way you can crack your knuckles. (Or the same way a chiropractor cracks your intervertebral joints.)

No, it isn’t. To see my neurologist, it costs almost $400 per visit. To see my chiropractor, it costs $35 per visit.

My chiropractor is great and helps me be more comfortable and the adjustments help me move better. He also said that I needed to see the neurologist I am currently seeing because he couldn’t help me with the problems I am having beyond back pain. That does not sound like a quack to me.

How open minded of you. I’m sure that you are a credit to your med school with such an open and inquisitive nature.


As someone with two herniated discs, and someone who has been going to conventional doctors for three years to try to either FIX or FEEL BETTER and getting neither of them. I’d like to cordially invite you to eat me.

I’ve BEGGED for back surgery, and been told that the ‘insurancce doesn’t want you to do that’, and in fact, the HMO would prefer that I try “chiropractic” or “osteopathy” before they even consider the surgery.

sign me,

still hurting three damn years later,


Don’t tell me not to argue with you! Medical students are the part of the totem pole that is imbedded in the ground! One of the great pleasures of being an attending is tormenting medical students! :slight_smile:

You overgeneralize. There is little difference between osteopathic and allopathic education these days, except that the osteopaths get very useful training in joint manipulation for musculo-skeletal complaints, a discipline I often wish I’d been trained in when I was in med school at Johns Hopkins. Many talented students choose to pursue the DO degree for this reason.

As regards Chiropracty, things there are not so cut and dried either, although I agree that their fundamental tenets, as put forth by D. D. Palmer, are a load of hogwash. But many chiropractors reject this, and practice manipulation for disorders of the spine and back and neck. Distraction, manipulation, ultrasound, hot packs, and regular exercise regimens along with TENS units can be very helpful for chronic musculo-skeletal back pain.

As I’ve said here at SDMB before, avoid the chiropractors who diagnose your tendency towards liver disease by looking at your x-rays, and then recommend 2 times weekly manipulations for life to keep hepatic carcinoma at bay. And avoid those who try to sell you other things at their office (this advice stands for all health practitioners, AFAIAC).

But if your doc and physical therapist tell you that you’ve got a bad back, and they’ve taken you as far as they can towards reducing your pain, well then a competent back-cracker could help make your symptoms more manageable.

BTW, don’t be so quick with your procedures on bad backs. A bulging disk on CT or MRI doth not automatically a surgical candidate make. Many people have back pain, many have bulging disks on studies. The two are related far less frequently than originally thought. Many orthopods and neurosurgeons have learned this to their chagrin.

Qadgop, MD

LightTracer, you had me up until

Well, yeah, I always feel better when I’m in pain when it eases. But if the chiropractor is the one CAUSING the increased pain, is it reasonable to credit him/her with easing it? Is the pain actually less than it was before she went or does she just think it’s better because it hurt worse after the manipulation and has returned to the previous pain level? A lot of what you’re describing sounds like a placebo effect.


No bones about chiropractic. Heh heh heh…

Eve, what’s so wrong about pronouncing vegan “vee gan”? “Vejehn” sounds even stupider, and as a writer and editor you should know that the root word often doesn’t control the pronunciation of words formed from it.


Who’s telling you this, the chiropractor or the HMO? If the former, ignore them. If the latter, request an explanation in writing of the guidelines for approving the surgery you need. With that, talk to your primary doctor and have him or her submit a request for authorization, along with the supporting documentation showing that you meet the criteria. If they still refuse to authorize it, appeal it. Take it all the way up to the state insurance commissioner’s office. Yeah, every insurance company is going to want you to utilize less expensive treatments first, but if it’s been three years and your condition is not being addressed, then obviously this is not an appropriate course of treatment.

“Eve, what’s so wrong about pronouncing vegan ‘vee gan’?”

—Nuthin’, as long as you only eat vee-gah-tables.

This is one of my favorites. It has become almost generic, but I’ve most often seen it attributed to Roger Brinner, an economist for Data Resources International.

First of all, what do you think i’ve been doing for three years? It’s my DOCTOR, my GP who is advising possible chiropractic, osteopathic or massage treatment.

As much as you may feel chiropractors are quacks, I went to one six years ago for two months and felt IMMEASURABLY better from a waitressing injury. (discombobulated neck from carrying trays)

My doctor currently is about 10% concerned with how I feel and 90% concerned with prescribing new and exciting pills or other ‘non drastic treatment’. Meanwhile, my back still hurts.

I think I’ll take the chiropractor.


I have no idea what you’ve been doing for the last three years, other than begging someone somewhere for back surgery. I can’t say as I understand why you’d beg for back surgery with one breath then praise your chiropractor with the other. Isn’t the reason you’ve been begging for back surgery is that the chiropractic treatment isn’t working for you?

And if your doctor is not interested in treating you as a person, find another doctor.

Sorry, dude, you can’t throw something like that out there without a cite.

I don’t believe it.

IMO, for many individuals with back symptoms and some headaches, chiropractic can provide some symptomatic relief. Of course, so could massage therapy.

And the mere fact that a chiro can produce sounds from your spine does not mean that he is actually accomplishing anything beneficial.

Well, let’s see… I’ve had back pain for 26 years now and I’m not likely to ever be “cured.” You see, I have scoliosis and, while the 5 years of wearing a back brace did help, I will always have a curved spine. In addition to the congenital defect, I injured the lower dics (right where the curve is) a few years back.

Now, when I was going to see a regular M.D. for relief, I was usually given a prescription for ibuprofen and bed rest. Not bad, but not really helpful

After the injury, I decided to try a chiropractor; this woman was recommended by someone whose opinion I valued. That turned out to be one of the best health decisions I’ve ever made. Yeah, I had to make frequent visits at first (3 a week for 5 weeks) but damnit! I was barely able to walk on my first visit and by the time I left I was actually able to stand upright. The visits tapered off as I improved and I’m now seeing her twice a year and as needed. (For example, if I’m not taking breaks to stretch while I’m studying.)

She has never tried to cure me of anything except back pain nor has she tried to tell me that chiropractors can heal leprosy and raise the dead. It’s all about the back and how to keep it healthy. She has, however, recommended certain types of exercise and forbidden others. I can dance, use the treadmill, lift weights (carefully!), and practice yoga. I cannot do any running (as exercise,) martial arts are verboten, as are any high-impact sports. Nor does she expect me to run to her office at the slightest twinge; most days some stretching, a little heat and maybe an ibuprofen or two, are more than enough to relieve my back pain. Oh, and I bought a new mattress. A really, really firm one.

As for the expense: she charges on a sliding scale. Her practice is accepted by most insurance companies but I’m just a poor, struggling student for whom real insurance is but a distant dream. I pay the minimum amount, which hasn’t changed in 9 years.

I’ll never be free from pain but I can keep it to a minimum and part of that process is seeing my chiropractor when, and if, necessary and paying attention to her advice.