Archive for Chiropracty & Pseudoscience

A Pain in the Neck

Posted in Opinion, Pseudosciences with tags , , , , , on June 4, 2009 by jackpot12

b5a78a620777adc0 One of the things that struck me when I was a Chiropractor was how many people would come up to me during various advertising fairs and say, “My Chiropractor hurt me, I don’t want any of those forceful thrusting type adjustments again.”

They never made a whole lot of sense to me either, which is why I decided about half way through my training to abandon them in favor of the non-force techniques. What I found was that the non-force techniques made even less sense, (in fact none at all) and were 100% placebo just like homeopathy.  It took me another two years to pull my head far enough out of my ass to start looking for a new career.

If selling a placebo effect is something you can stomach and feel okay with, then this is for you.if you have a heart that trumps your interest in truth, you’re golden. I’m deeply jealous of these people.

It was never okay for me. Most of my friends never encountered this conundrum because most of them never took seriously the idea that (verified by all respectable research) the placebo effect is the primary agent of all these techniques- the golden thread that makes them all similar, despite their differences. The real reason it works.

When I brought up my thoughts to my peers they would say, “but its way better than medicine, medicine kills people”, or they would say something that revealed the fact that they did not believe such and such technique worked due to the power of belief and suggestion. To this day I am baffled by how many intelligent people, trained professionals, still underestimate the influence of the mind in these obscure healing arts practices, chalking up the benefits to some pseudomechanical explanation with not a shred of evidence to back it. With every new study showing that homeopathy does absolutely nothing at all different from a placebo for instance… the more popular it becomes.

In the short span of time I was in practice I remember patients who came to me because they did not like the forceful style of their other Chiropractor, but they were sold on the whole idea of Chiropractic, a hope giving alternative to chemical intervention. I remember this one very healthy and intelligent professional woman who came in and told me that her neck involuntarily jiggled now after getting adjustments from her last Chiropractor, a guy I knew. This did not happen before the adjustments.

The involuntary wiggling is caused by damaged mechanoreceptors in the spinal joints sending screwed up information to the brain about the joint’s location in time and space. The brain randomly wiggles the neck because it cannot get an accurate read on where the joint is positioned, much like vertigo (and something called “cervicogenic vertigo” is caused by the same thing).

Do you think she ever told him?

Of course not. And all the people at the fairs that gave me similar stories, did they tell anyone? No, just me because they knew I didn’t like it either.

I don’t receive spinal manipulations anymore, but when I visited a friend from school last year, he offered to crack me (I refuse to use the word “adjust” because there is nothing being adjusted, only manipulated outside of its natural range of motion). I submitted hesitantly and was extremely sore for the next three days.

Do you think I told him?

Of course not.

As he talked to me about how it bothered him when some of his patients would suddenly quit their regimen of manipulations, I felt it was obvious why many of them do. But they don’t tell the truth to him about why they quit.

A look at the research supports my experience.

For further information about my experiences with Chiropractic see

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