No, I kid you not!
This abstract was actually published in the leading chiro-journal. The authors include three professors from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Research, Toronto, Canada. Its title is impressive but made my alarm bells ring a bit:
A Randomized Pragmatic Clinical Trial of Chiropractic Care for Headaches With and Without a Self-Acupressure Pillow.
And the actual texts does not disappoint those looking for of pure pseudo-science:
The purpose of this study was to determine if the addition of a self-acupressure pillow (SAP) to typical chiropractic treatment results in significantly greater improvement in tension-type and cervicogenic headache sufferers.
A pragmatic randomized clinical trial was conducted in a chiropractic college teaching clinic. Thirty-four subjects, including tension-type and cervicogenic headache sufferers, 21 to 60 years of age, male or female, completed the study. Group A (n = 15) received typical chiropractic care only (manual therapy and exercises), and group B (n = 19) received typical chiropractic care with daily home use of the SAP. The intervention period was 4 weeks. The main outcome measure was headache frequency. Satisfaction and relief scores were obtained from subjects in the SAP group. Analysis of variance was used to analyze the intergroup comparisons.
Owing to failure of randomization to produce group equivalence on weekly headache frequency, analysis of covariance was performed showing a trend (P = .07) favoring the chiropractic-only group; however, this was not statistically significant. Group A obtained a 46% reduction of weekly headache frequency (t = 3.1, P = .002; d = 1.22). The number of subjects in group A achieving a reduction in headaches greater than 40% was 71%, while for group B, this was 28%. The mean benefit score (0-3) in group B of the use of the SAP was 1.2 (.86). The mean satisfaction rating of users of the SAP was 10.4 (2.7) out of 15 (63%).
This study suggests that chiropractic care may reduce frequency of headaches in patients with chronic tension-type and cervicogenic headache. The use of a self-acupressure pillow (Dr Zaxx device) may help those with headache and headache pain relief as well as producing moderately high satisfaction with use.
Where to begin?
Perhaps it is best, if I simply concentrated on the bizarre research question: is chiropractic care plus the largely uncontrolled use of an ‘acupressure cushion’ better than chiropractic care alone? To savour the lunacy of it, we need to consider that:
- chiropractic is not plausible;
- chiropractic care is not proven to be effective for headaches;
- acupressure is not plausible;
- acupressure is not proven to be effective;
- a self-administered acupressure cushion is also unproven and even less plausible;
This, I fear, renders the study one of the most nonsensical trials I have seen for a very long time. To make the bonanza in pseudo-science complete, the article is supplemented with a most bizarre conclusion about the effectiveness of chiropractic (which, of cause, cannot be examined in a trial of chiro vs chiro).
All this leads me to fear that:
- the best journal of chiropractic is rubbish;
- a professorship in a chiro school may not mean that the professor has the slightest idea about research methodology;
- chiropractors will try to squeeze a conclusion that is favourable for their trade even out of a dead horse.