In her article “Chiropractors are Bullshit” SciBabe discussed her views on the chiropractic profession. Now the chiro ‘Dr’ Michael Braccio has published a rebuttal (excerpts from it are below). Here I will provide a rebuttal of his rebuttal. For clarity, the bold quotes are by SciBabe (as quoted by the ‘Dr’), what follows is the rebuttal by the ‘Dr‘ himself and my re-rebuttal is in italics.
“There is scant medical evidence that a chiropractor is your best treatment option for…anything”
Since most people initially seek care from a chiropractor for low back pain, it seems appropriate to focus there. The most recent clinical practice guidelines recommend heat, exercise, spinal manipulation, acupuncture, and massage as first-line therapies for low back pain. All of these services (with the exception of acupuncture) are services commonly provided by chiropractors for low back pain.
The current low back pain guidelines used to advise healthcare providers on the can be found here: American College of Physicians (ACP), National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), Towards Optimized Practice (TOP), and Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT).
“Medical doctors often refer patients to the proper experts, and outside of a narrow scope of experts, this rarely includes someone who is a ‘duly-licensed non-M.D.,” because that person’s views on medicine would not be aligned with their standards of care.”
Clinical practice guidelines are intended to provide healthcare professionals with information on the most effective treatment options for various conditions based on the current research. As stated above, the current standards of care for low back pain include spinal manipulation and other therapies commonly provided by chiropractors.
Guidelines are often not up-to date. It is true that proper doctors rarely refer to chiros.
“We didn’t have proper scanning equipment to identify issues in the spine”
Imaging technique has definitely improved since the 19th century, however, this statement reflects an inadequate understanding of low back pain (and pain in general). Abnormal radiographic findings in the spine are common in asymptomatic individuals and are more closely associated with age than they are pain severity. In fact, the current practice guidelines for low back pain discourages routine imaging due to the high false positive rates.
Yet far too many chiros do use imaging – not for diagnostic but for financial reasons, I suspect.
“It appears there is a link between chiropractic manipulation and risk of stroke due to potential artery dissection.”
The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association (also endorsed by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and Congress of Neurological Surgeons) released a scientific statement stating that the association between stroke and chiropractic manipulation was not well established and probably low. These patients are likely already presenting with a stroke that is in progress, regardless of treatment provided.
I am not sure what a ‘low association’ is. The risk of stroke is, however, real. To deny it is a violation of the precautionary principle that governs all healthcare.
“Chiropractic beliefs are dangerously far removed from mainstream medicine, and the vocation’s practices have been linked to strokes, herniated discs, and even death.”
This statement is made without context. All medical interventions have an associated risk when performed, but their occurrence rates vary. The risk of death from cervical manipulation has been estimated to be 1 in greater than 3,330,000 to 3,730,000 manipulations while the risk of death from gastrointestinal bleeding from NSAIDs is estimated to be 1 in 1,200 patients.
Medical error has also been reported as the third leading cause of death in the United States and many of the commonly used medications have also been linked to adverse events such as stroke and death (ibuprofen, tramadol, and duloxetine).
Even if all of this were true (which it isn’t), it would not be a good reason to tolerate unnecessary harm by chiros (look up ‘tu quoque fallacy).
“Chiropractors can also cause damage by being used for primary care or emergency medical needs, as their training is not appropriate for such care…The chiropractor somehow missed that her son’s arm was broken, and the injury was not detected until many days later when they visited an emergency room.”
I am not privy to the case referred to above to specifically comment on it, but it is inappropriate to condemn an entire profession based on a single case. In SciBabe’s interview on the Joe Rogan Experience, she describes her experience with spinal manipulation performed by her Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) for an episode of low back pain. It turned out that her lower back pain was caused by a fractured rib (fractures are a contraindication for spinal manipulation) which was also somehow missed. It is biased to berate the entire chiropractic profession based on a single case and not hold other healthcare professions to a similar standard.
Yes, that would be biased! But the case was a mere example, one of many. It is undeniable that chiros want to be upgraded to primary care physicians, a role for which they are not sufficiently educated or trained.
And finally, “don’t let a chiropractor fool you by reciting the warning label from a vaccine that they’re not qualified to administer.”
Similarly, please do not take medial advice from someone who is not licensed to administer it.
MY CONCLUSION + ADVICE:
‘Dr’ Braccio is using very tired pseudo-arguments which have all been addressed and invalidated hundreds of times.
My advice to him: book yourself urgently on a course of critical thinking.
My advice to consumers: ask yourself who has an axe to grind; perhaps ‘Dr’ Braccio is worried about his and his colleagues cash-flow? Neither SciBabe nor I have such reasons to misguide you.