A chiro, a arms dealer and a Brexit donor meet in a bar.

The arms dealer: my job is so secret, I cannot tell my neighbour what I do.

The Brexit donor: I have to keep things so close to my chest that not even my wife knows what I am doing.

The chiro: that’s nothing; my work is so secret that not even I know what I am doing.


But I am yet again intrigued by a survey aimed at finding out what chiropractors are up to. One might have thought that, after 120 years, they know what they are doing.

This survey described the profiles of chiropractors’ practice and the reasons, nature of the care provided to their patients and extent of interprofessional collaborations in Ontario, Canada. The researchers randomly recruited chiropractors from a list of registered chiropractors (n=3978) in active practice in 2015. Of the 135 randomly selected chiropractors, 120 were eligible, 43 participated and 42 completed the study.

Each chiropractor recorded information for up to 100 consecutive patient encounters, documenting patient health profiles, reasons for encounter, diagnoses and care provided. Descriptive statistics summarised chiropractor, patient and encounter characteristics, with analyses accounting for clustering and design effects. Thus data on 3523 chiropractor-patient encounters became available. More than 65% of participating chiropractors were male, mean age 44 years and had practised on average 15 years. The typical patient was female (59% of encounters), between 45 and 64 years (43%) and retired (21%) or employed in business and administration (13%). Most (39.4%) referrals were from other patients, with 6.8% from physicians. Approximately 68% of patients paid out of pocket or claimed extended health insurance for care. Most common diagnoses were back (49%, 95% CI 44 to 56) and neck (15%, 95% CI 13 to 18) problems, with few encounters related to maintenance/preventive care (0.86%, 95% CI 0.2 to 3.9) and non-musculoskeletal problems (1.3%, 95% CI 0.7 to 2.3). The most common treatments included spinal manipulation (72%), soft tissue therapy (70%) and mobilisation (35%).

The authors concluded that this is the most comprehensive profile to date of chiropractic practice in Canada. People who present to Ontario chiropractors are mostly adults with a musculoskeletal condition. Our results can be used by stakeholders to make informed decisions about workforce development, education and healthcare policy related to chiropractic care.

I am so sorry to have mocked this paper. I shouldn’t have, because it actually does reveal a few interesting snippets:

  1. Only 7% of referrals come from real doctors.
  2. The vast majority of all patients receive spinal manipulations.
  3. About 6% of them are under 14 years of age.
  4. Chiropractors seem to dislike surveys; only 35% of those asked complied.
  5. 23% of all consultations were for general or unspecified problems,
  6. 8% for neurologically related problems,
  7. 5% for non-musculoskeletal problems (eg, digestive, ear, eye, respiratory, skin, urology, circulatory, endocrine and metabolic, psychological).
  8. Chiropractors rarely refer patients to other clinicians; this only happened in less than 3% of encounters.
  9. Apart from manipulation, chiropractors employ all sorts of other dubious therapies (ultrasound 3%, acupuncture 3%, , traction 1%, interferential therapy 3%, soft laser therapy 3%).
  10.  68% of patients pay out of their own pocket…

… NO WONDER, THEY DO NOT SEEM TO BE IN NEED OF ANY TYPE OF TREATMENT: 54% of all patients reported being in “excellent/very good overall health”!

58 Responses to WHAT DO CHIROPRACTORS DO? They exploit the healthy and wealthy!

  • Great post! And that is a perfect joke for any party!
    Having spent a decade watching the internal-workings of DCs I can say you are accurate. Additionally, since one human cannot “treat away” another humans’ pain “source” in the arena of spinal/back/neck pain…WHAT they do, in terms of their manual and gizmo “adjusting” is, and has always been entrepreneurial-theatrics aimed at the appearance of having substance and efficacy. However MOST of the time they strongly suggest they in fact actually do know and treat the SOURCE/CAUSE of the pain, not just the symptom…masking-pain is for those nefarious MDs and big Pharma companies.
    When you are adept at siphoning money from the worried-well you become very adept at exploiting coincidence and natural attrition for your own greed. A legacy of pride for sure. That may be why so many chiroquackers, like pickpockets, conmen and carnies get their kids into their businesses…larceny runs in families.

    • @MK
      “That may be why so many chiroquackers, like pickpockets, conmen and carnies get their kids into their businesses…larceny runs in families.”
      As a physiotherapist these comments are highly unprofessional Michael Kenny.
      What is the professional code of conduct for physiotharapists in your part of the world?
      What does it say about comments like this?

    • I had chronic asthma and migranes. Within 3 months through chiropractic i was off inhalers and my migraines stopped. Also lost weight and was in the best shape of my life. Hope you some day discover the benefits of it because right now your comment is pretty ignorant given the fact that you had no experience of your own.

      • Hi Gabi.

        Here’s something I wrote just for you in June 2002. It was one of my responses to viewer mail that the producers of A Different Way to Heal? forwarded to me after this particular episode of PBS’ “Scientific American Frontiers” first aired:

        Maureen M. asks:
        Dear Mr. Badanes, Last night on Scientific America you seemed to be very negative towards chiropractic manipulation. How can you explain why my back feels so much better after I’ve had a visit with my chiropractor? I’ve been to many doctors over the years about back problems and my chiropractor is the only one who has been able to give my back relief without using pain killers.

        Badanes’ response:
        No, I CAN’T explain why you find “relief” at the chiropractic office. But, I’d wager your chiropractor can’t, either –even though I imagine you’ve been offered a chiropractic reason why you might. In any case, you haven’t said anything about your complaint, what’s been diagnosed by anyone who’s seen you, and what therapies you’ve tried, biomedical and/or otherwise. So there’s no way for me to reasonably comment on the specifics of your case.

        Naturally, I’m pleased that your back feels better but I’d be reticent to simply recommend “chiropractic” as a remedy for back pain or anything else on the BASIS of your testimonial –or even hundreds like it. Similarly, and for the same reason, I seriously doubt you’d tell me you DON’T feel better if I supply any number of anecdotes from patients who said they received NO benefit from seeing the chiropractor or who claimed they were injured by one. That’s because each of our stories are just hearsay and rumor –nothing you’d want to rely-on when choosing or recommending a medical intervention.

        The fact is, patients often respond to all KINDS of empty therapies and for no good reason. Even so, while they are pleased with the “result” they associate with the particular medicine or event, it’s incumbent on the scientific practitioner to do better. DD Palmer, for example, the “father” of the chiropractic (featured in the historic part of the SAF segment), treated Harvey Lilliard with the first Spinal Adjustment. He reasoned that his spinal treatment restored Lillard’s hearing. Does this mean that he had discovered the cure for deafness and should then open a clinic for the deaf? Of course not. One thing had nothing to do with the other and for all we know, Palmer just dislodged some earwax when he “cracked” Lillard’s back.

        Like I say, I’m pleased you have rapport with your chiropractor and that you enjoy and apparently benefit from your sessions. On the face of your testimonial, however, I would be unable to distinguish your report from someone who enthusiastically insists their lymphoma disappeared after a visit to Lourdes or after getting sprinkled with “Tirta” (Holy Water) by a Balinese priest. I couldn’t explain any of this, either. I just wouldn’t choose these medicines on the basis of these stories if I were the patient and I wouldn’t recommend or use them for patients as a science-based practitioner.


        Gabi Star: Hope you some day discover the benefits of it because right now your comment is pretty ignorant given the fact that you had no experience of your own.

        I’ve had lots and lots of experience with “chiropractic” and chiropractors.


  • It seems to me most chiropractors know exactly what they are doing… Also 68% of patients pay out of pocket money and 39% of patients reffer others… This shows patients are happy with the results… But please dont let me stop you from turning everything against the profession.

  • I have an additional point that you may have overlooked. For further research as it seems not to have been addressed in the original study to which you referred.

    11. Produce soft porn. or at least Benny Hill style titillation.

    See this chiropractic video titled:
    “Don’t Watch This If You’re Offended By Hot Chicks Wearing Yoga Pants Getting Adjusted”

  • Couldn’t agree more. Then I googled searched chiros physios and medical doctors in North York Ontario. Even included hospitals. Weird. The physics and chiros all had great reviews… the doctors not so much the 3 hosptials even worse. I mean if all these people are paying out of pocket. Even if 1 through 10 are valid. Something must be wrong. Personally my medical doctor had no clue what was going on with my back. Started naproxen. Three weeks xray and T3.s… three months later MRI and dilaudid nothing wrong ish with the MRi. 6 months upto 8mg of dilaidid a day. Going downhill fast. 10 visits to my medical doctor and their partners ni help one visit to an aggrisive chiropractor. Told me it was my sacril ileum joint. Beat me up on my low back. Body checked me on my side. 12 vist and 1 month later I was 99 percent good. 2 years later still weining off dilauded. Still need 1 mg a day or my systems just shut down. I hate to debate in case studies but in my mind those real doctors nearly killed me and didnt know what and sacril iliac joint was.

  • “Distribution of most frequent problems managed as reported by chiropractors.
    Back problem
    Neck problem
    Back syndrome with radiating pain
    Sprain/strain of joint nos
    Bursitis/tendinitis nos
    Shoulder problem
    Muscle problem
    Osteoarthritis, other (not spine)
    Non-musculoskeletal problem
    Musculoskeletal disease, other
    Neurological problem
    Hip symptom/complaint
    Musculoskeletal symptom/complaint other
    Health maintenance/preventive care
    Kyphosis and scoliosis
    Knee symptom/complaint
    Ankle problem
    Tennis elbow
    Jaw symptom/complaint
    Injury musculoskeletal nos

    • Activator Technique
      Logan Basic Technique
      Gonstead Technique
      Directional Non-Force Technique (DNFT)
      Thompson Technique
      Pettibon Spinal Biomechanics
      Mears Technique
      Spinal Stressology
      Toftness Technique
      Chiropractic Biophysics Technique
      Atlas Specific/HIO (Toggle Recoil)
      Pierce-Stillwagon Technique
      NUCCA Technique
      Barge (Tortipelvis/Torticollis) Technique
      BioEnergetic Synchronization Technique (BEST)
      Sacral Occipital Technique (SOT)
      Applied Kinesiology (AK)
      Neuro Organizational Technique (NOT)
      Perianal Postural Reflex Technique
      Meric Technique
      Receptor Tonus Technique (NIMMO)
      Lemond Brain Stem Technique
      Grostic Technique
      Neuro Emotional Technique (NET)
      Holographic Diagnosis and Treatment
      … plus at least 50 more.


      • @John Badanes
        I have not heard of many of those old techniques and had to look them up.
        That list is outdated. Probably from old the days when you bathed in the Kool Aid with Sid Williams.

        I had a conversation with a critical physiotherapist about the more recent proliferation of techniques within chiro and physio. We came to the conclusion that to be successful a new technique needs to follow two simple rules.
        1. The word “functional” must be in the title.
        2. The title must be followed by an “R” in a circle or (TM).
        You need to keep up to date John. 😉

  • Take your oxycontin and shut the heck up. I’m a DC and most of my patients come to me after going through the medical route and having failed therapy.

  • Lol. Classic old man speaking. The war between chiros and MD’s is ending. It’s only the old geezers who are still fighting (on both sides). Haha. Not sure who wrote this, But he’s probably close to 70 yo or older.

  • I would love to see results of the same survey aimed at “real doctors”….

  • Professionalism! Think about it for a moment. As the author and owner of this article and domain, you declare you are a professional with MD, and other earned designations following your name. Do one of your designations contain DC? No!
    So be professional. Don’t put down other professionals in Heath care. It’s unprofessional. You work and practice in the realm of sick care. Chiropractors practice in health care. Learn the difference. Just like you need to learn what doctor means. Or just stop the rhetoric
    btw, Ontario and the chiropractic college in Ontario is a disgrace to the chiropractic profession and thus producing chiropractors practicing in Ontario that don’t know what they’re really doing. So next time just ask a professional. Probably something your parents should’ve done when learning to spell you name Edward lol

    • You work and practice in the realm of sick care. Chiropractors practice in health care.
      nice platitude; only second to the primitive ad hominem that follows.

    • but chiros are not health professionals- clothing themselves in such terms is just done in order for them to ‘compete’ with real ones. That is precisely the problem.

  • Mr Bromberg,
    Why did you not “go through the medical route” and then take up chiropractic as a post grad?

    • @RR
      Know quite a few chiro’s AND physio’s AND RN’s who have gone on to study medicine. Zero for all three going the other direction. But then again a GP has a license to do just about anything they like and charge it to public health. We have GP’s doing acupuncture, naturopathy, ultrasound, interferential, cold laser, herbal medicine, homeopathy etc.

    • I understand what you mean but to me a post grad study implies a specialism on top of a basic graduate study. How would the nonsense of chiro fit this model ? . It would be like reading Enid Blyton after having read Jean -Paul Sartre!

  • Over the years I have seen all sorts of therapy for my back which has ended up with me having several operations on my back. When my back first went with a severe prolapsed disc i saw a chiropractor who who gave me no manipulation just by putting blokes under my pelvis. And I was getting better having also spending six weeks lying down which he told me what to do. But I was young and naively took the advice of the surgeon which I deeply with hindsight if I would have stayed with John Adam and done what he it would have saved me 27 years of grief. Eventually having spinal fusion which got rid of my legs pain. But many years later I injured my thoracic area and went to a different chiropractor Jeff schur who put me on a Cox machine which brought back all my leg pains even though he said the chances of injuring me was one in
    four million. Which resulted in me paying for private pioneering surgery with good results. The trouble and loss of work and psychological problems I suffered from this man words cannot describe.😠😠😠

  • In defense of chiropractors who are Board Certified & licensed homeopaths.

    “As both a homeopath and chiropractor, I have seen the effect of homeopathy in helping thousands of patients to overcome both physical and emotional illness in my New York City private practice of 30 years, as well as through my work as the Project Coordinator for Haiti with Homeopaths Without Borders NA in 2010. I have taught homeopathy to health professionals in countries as diverse as France, Kenya, Tanzania, and Trinidad. Since the 1980s, I have helped other chiropractors integrate homeopathy into their practice by developing curricula in homeopathy for chiropractic colleges, medical schools and teaching hospitals around the world, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Columbia Presbyterian, and New York University Hospitals.”

  • but chiros are not health professionals- clothing themselves in such terms is just done in order for them to ‘compete’ with real ones. That is precisely the problem.

    • Doctors of Chiropractic are not competing with Medical Doctors. They both serve a purpose and should work together. I see both for different reasons.

      They both learn the same schooling for the their first 4 years of post grad, and then in the 5th year, they decide if they want to either be a “medical doctor” or a “natural doctor / Chiropractor.”

      The notion that Chiropractor want to be medical doctors is just plain ignorant. If Doctors of Chiropractic wanted to be Medical Doctors, they would have done so. It’s the same amount of post grad schooling. Doctors of Chiropractoc don’t want to be Medical Doctors. The same as Dentists don’t want to be Medical Doctors or Chiropractors.

      • but they do love to confuse the public with a doctor title; good for business, I suppose.

        • Excellent comment(s) @Paul.

          I have to laugh at Ernst’s efforts to save humanity from chiropractors and homeopaths because he’s sure the health care consuming “public” is comprised of hundreds of millions of uneducated imbeciles.

        • @EE
          And now we have physiotherapist DPT’s calling themselves doctor. LOL 🙂

        • DC’s don’t confuse the general public with “Doctor” title. They ARE Doctors so not sure why you are so concerned. The only ones I see trying to confuse the general public is by MD’s like yourself. Not sure what you are so afraid of? DC’s provide an integral part of overall health care, which MD’s are not educated about nor qualified to discusses.

          • The General Chiropractic Council supposedly regulate chiropractors in the UK. They state:

            If you use the courtesy title “doctor” you must make it clear within the text of any information you put into the public domain that you are not a registered medical practitioner but that you are a “Doctor of Chiropractic”. Failure to do so could lead to an allegation of misconduct.

            The ASA will take action in relation to advertisements implying that chiropractors are medical practioners.

            I don’t think there are any chiros in the UK who also hold a general medical qualification.

            This is a list of conditions chiros are allowed to claim to be able to treat:

            Ankle sprain (short term management)
            Elbow pain and tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) arising from associated musculoskeletal conditions of the back and neck, but not isolated occurrences
            Headache arising from the neck (cervicogenic)
            Inability to relax
            Joint pains
            Joint pains including hip and knee pain from osteoarthritis as an adjunct to core osteoarthritis treatments and exercise
            General, acute & chronic backache, back pain (not arising from injury or accident)
            Generalised aches and pains
            Mechanical neck pain (as opposed to neck pain following injury i.e. whiplash)
            Migraine prevention
            Minor sports injuries and tensions
            Muscle spasms
            Plantar fasciitis (short term management)
            Rotator cuff injuries, disease or disorders
            Shoulder complaints (dysfunction, disorders and pain)
            Soft tissue disorders of the shoulder

            The list is complete: there are no other conditions they can claim to treat.

          • Ron, your comments are so elementary. We can all see how small minded your thinking is. You compare Doctors of Chiropractic to Unicorns. Really. That’s your contribution to this post? Anyways… moving on.

          • So, demeaning me is your contribution? I think that is the very definition of small-minded, Paul.

            And bringing “everyone (We can all see. . .)” into it somehow supports your attack? Schoolyard bullying. But, to be expected, I guess.

            Yes, please move on. (In keeping with your need to feel superior, however, I suspect you’ll want the last word. Go ahead. I will say nothing more.)

  • When you discredit fellow doctors and try to regard only yourself as a “Real” doctor, you end up looking like an ignorant ass, who then becomes less credible in anything you say.

    Who are Doctors and who can hold the title of “Doctor.” The latin definition of a Doctor is an educator.

    Healthcare professions for which members may be called by the title of doctor are: medicine, dentistry, clinical psychology, optometry, chiropractic, veterinary medicine, podiatry and, more recently, pharmacy.

    You are therefore implying that none of the professionals above are educators / doctors. You are simply ignorant to facts.

    Your conclusions of the paper are also very weak and small minded.

    Good luck.

    • Paul, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you write like (and offer the same logic as) a certain Calgary chiroquacker who has blocked me on twitter rather than offer evidence of his blathering.

      Is that you, boo boo? (Please say it is—I miss you.)

      Even if I’m mistaken, you should look him up. Maybe between the two of you, you can come up with something better than this drobbletwop. Sorry, but I won’t be waiting up.

      • @Ron

        Nope. Not a chiropractor. Nor do I live in Calgary, Ron.

        My suggestion to you though would be to post useful comments, instead of taunting and name calling people on forums. I can understand why someone would have blocked you in the past.

        • Your comments are useful?

          “Doctors of Chiropractic are not competing with Medical Doctors. They both serve a purpose and should work together.”

          They do confuse the public as chiros are not real doctors.

          So, you aren’t a chiropractor? You just believe in them? Do you also believe in the power of unicorns? Like unicorns, chiroquackers serve no useful purpose. Their entire premise is based on woo. Just like your uniformed comments, Paul.

        • @St Paul: what kind of person defends the indefensible propositions and uselessness of Chiroquackery IF they ain’t one?!! Are you thinking those reading this blog need your non-perspicacious insights? At least they (DCs) have an excuse….sales and income! Entrepreneurial theatrics masquerading as healthcare for 125 years. But I’ll contend you are a DC…and if not you missed your calling. A life lived believing in testimony. Quite a legacy.

  • My comment is I could hardly walk before seeing a chiropractor. Now I can with ease.
    No further evidence needed…

  • Your article is coming from the perspective of the American medical association ( …not even spelling this in caps as it does not deserve it) in the 50s when they tried destroy chiropractic. I had a miraculous recovery through my adjustments to the point that i was ready to go to school to become a chiropractor and i know many who had similar experiences. That was in 2014 and have neen in the best shape of my life. If you had the wits to dive deeper and learn more about it believe me you would withdraw your idiotic article now.

  • Oh look another anti vaxxer whom also thinks they know more about the spine than experts. Chiropractors are recognized as proper medical professionals aside from USA.

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