MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

cufimrfweaarb0r

I found this on Twitter; fascinating isn’t it?

So much so, that I decided to run a quick ‘reality check’: are any of these claims based on anything resembling sound evidence?

Here we go:

IT HELPS BRING ABOUT RECOVERY

This is the sort of woolly language that quacks of any type seem to adore. Recovery of what? Perhaps recovery from delusion? No evidence for that, I am sure.

IT CAN REDUCE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE

Yes, there are some studies on this topic. There is even a systematic review of the relevant trials; it was published by chiros in a chiro journal and it nevertheless concluded that there is currently a lack of low bias evidence to support the use of Spinal Manipulative Therapy as a therapy for the treatment of hypertension. Future investigations may clarify if SMT is effective for treating hypertension, either by itself or as an adjunctive therapy, and by which physiologic mechanism this occurs.

IT IMPROVES THE NERVOUS SYSTEM

Another woolly claim, if there ever was one. What does it mean? Nothing! Consequently, there also is no evidence to back it up.

BETTER POSTURE AND FLEXIBILITY

Chiros will probably claim that the exercises they sometimes recommend might lead to improvements in posture and flexibility of the musculoskeletal system. Even though there is not much good evidence for this, it might still be true. But chiropractic manipulations are unlikely to achieve these aims.

STRONG IMMUNE SYSTEM

There are some studies to imply that spinal manipulations stimulate the immune system. This is what I wrote about them previously: If we look at the actual research that might support such strange claims, we find that that it is scarce, flimsy and unconvincing. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has yet shown that people who receive regular chiropractic care are protected from conditions mediated via the immune system. Unless such a phenomenon can be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, we should be highly sceptical of the claim that chiropractic care stimulates the immune system and thus generates better health. In my view, regular chiropractic adjustments stimulate only one thing: the cash flow of the therapist.

LESS NEED FOR MEDICATIONS

This is one of the favourite claims of chiros. It is  supported by evidence showing that patients who see a chiropractor use less drugs than those who don’t. But that is due to chiros traditionally being anti-drug; they thus advise their patients not to take any drugs. Very different from claiming their patients need less medications, I’d say. In fact, it seems to me like saying people who regularly go to church pray more than those who don’t.

Why is any of this important?

Some might think that all of this is trivial, irrelevant and boring. I beg to differ.

It matters, I think, because such promotion and bogus claims are what consumers are constantly exposed to. Eventually, many will believe this nonsense, even if it is overtly wrong or stupid. What is being trumpeted loudly a thousand times might eventually be believed.

In other words, such advertisements are relevant because they shape the minds of the public. As responsible healthcare professionals, we ought to be aware of these campaigns and do what we can to correct the false impressions they generate.

6 Responses to Seven amazing benefits of chiropractic care

  • Marcia Angell is a senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School and former editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine. She is the author of
    “The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It.”

    Do we ask the Ford dealer whether his cars are any good?
    Direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising does exactly what it is intended to do — increase sales for drug companies. Increasingly, it does that by promoting medical conditions, as well as drugs. If the industry can convince essentially normal people that minor complaints require long-term drug treatment, its market will grow.

    The argument that ads educate consumers is self-evidently absurd. No one should look to an investor-owned company for objective, unbiased information about products it sells. Do we ask the Ford dealer whether his cars are any good?

    Advertising in health care can certainly have adverse effects, both to patients and to the financial well being of healthcare consumers. Doctors themselves complain about the time they must waste in convincing their patients that they don’t need the meds those patients learn about via advertising. Pharmaceutical advertising should perhaps be limited to educated doctors, not to the non-medically trained public. Yet “modern medicine” countenances such practices which are antithetical to public welfare for the express purpose of financially enriching drug companies.

    “In other words, such advertisements are relevant because they shape the minds of the public,” stated Edzard. I couldn’t agree more!

  • “LOSE WEIGHT WITH THE LAP-BAND! SAFE 1 HOUR, FDA APPROVED; 1-800-GET-THIN; 1-800-953-5000; PPO INSURANCE; FREE INSURANCE VERIFICATION”

    Advertising to those with poor self-images by bariatric surgeons who seek to enrich themselves is a dubious exercise. Surely there are benefits of the surgeries for those who absolutely require them. Baiting prospective patients with the subliminal hope that looking like Kim Kardashian is only a $30,000 payment from reality is unethical quackery. Quacky and self-interested advertising in all professions should be discouraged.

    • As a retired physician I partially agree with Logos. Medical advertising is distasteful and self serving but at least it is based on facts that have been approved by regulatory agencies. This is totally different from the chiro advertising and claims exposed by Dr. Ernst that is close to 100% false, like other alternative propaganda.

      • The examples of unacceptable advertising that have been given here lately do not reflect the state of art of medicine and do not exonerate the provision of alternative medicine.
        Our alt-med aficionados live in a bubble, all cocooned of course by their religious adherence but many are also contained by the “cultural isolation” that afflicts a large part of the inhabitants of the United States of America.
        The US is only partly representative of the world and the delivery of genuine healthcare in the US does not instantiate the state of the art in medicine globally.
        Technically it may in many respects be in the forefront but the actual provision of public and private healthcare is in most respects lacking, sometimes severely lacking over there.
        In my part of the world, Europe in general and the Nordic countries in particular, the provision of medical care is much less commercialised and less hindered by cost and liability issues.
        Medical advertising is in effect forbidden in my corner of the world. We are prohibited from advertising much more than the opening hours of our practice. In contrast, make-believe “therapists” ardently advertise their services and lately this has been greatly facilitated by the (near) gratis medium of Facebook and other social media.
        As an example, one of the larger chiropractic clinics in my country advertises on their website and Facebook pages ten reasons why parents should bring their children to them. Neither are these claims physically likely to be valid nor have they been substantiated in any credible way. They have even proclaimed that 95% of newborns have injuries from the birth process that necessitates chiropractic care, a blatant fabrication that made the rounds on chiropractic promotion sites a couple years ago.
        Such advertising is not only unethical, for-fee services based on such made up claims are simply fraudulent. Lately this chiropractic service seems to be edging their way into “chiropractic perinatal care”.
        If a physician in my part of the world advertised similarly incorrect information about their services for financial gain, trouble would ensue starting with severe reprimands from the Directorate of Health and progressive sanctions if unheeded .

  • If you really want research to back up these claims then perhaps you should try and do a little bit rather than immediately saying it’s all rubbish.

    Here is one for you. A recent study done that shows how a spinal adjustment can benefit the nervous system. http://www.jelectromyographykinesiology.com/article/S1050-6411(12)00043-0/abstract

    In the past chiropractic claims might have not been well backed up by research but recently there is plenty of research being done showing the massive benefits of getting your spine adjusted.

    • in what way do you think this articleproves that spinal manipulation is clinically effective?
      here is the abstract:
      This review provides an overview of some of the growing body of research on the effects of spinal manipulation on sensory processing, motor output, functional performance and sensorimotor integration. It describes a body of work using somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs), transcranial magnetic nerve stimulation, and electromyographic techniques to demonstrate neurophysiological changes following spinal manipulation. This work contributes to the understanding of how an initial episode(s) of back or neck pain may lead to ongoing changes in input from the spine which over time lead to altered sensorimotor integration of input from the spine and limbs.

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