MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Trevor Zierke is a D.C. who published several videos that have gone viral after saying that “literally 99% of my profession” is a scam. “When I say almost all the usual lines chiropractors tell you are lies, I mean almost all of them,” he stated. Zierke then went on to give examples of issues chiropractors allegedly make up, including someone’s spine being “misaligned,” tension on nerves causing health problems, and someone having back pain because their hips are off-center. “Almost all of these aren’t true,” he concluded.

In a follow-up video, he claimed that the reasons most people are told they need to go to a chiropractor are “overblown or just flat out lies proven wrong by research.” He also noted that, while there are many scams, that “doesn’t mean you can’t get help from a chiropractor.”

In a third TikTok video, Zierke offered some valid reasons to see a chiropractor. He said that one can seek help from a chiropractor if one has musculoskeletal pain that has been ongoing for more than one to two days, and that’s about it. He stated that issues that a chiropractor couldn’t really fix include “GI pain, hormonal issues, nutrition,” among others.

In comments, users were largely supportive of Zierke’s message.

One said: “As a physiotherapist, I’ve been trying to tell this but I don’t want to like offend any chiropractor in doing so,” a commenter shared.

“Working in a chiropractic office, this is fair,” a further user wrote. “I have issues that I know an adjustment will help & other pain that would be better stretched/released.”

In an email, Zierke reiterated the intention of his videos: “I would just like to clarify that chiropractors, in general, are not a scam or are inherently scammers (I myself am a practicing chiropractor), but rather a lot of very popular sales tactics, phrases, and wording used to imply patients need treatment, and methods of treatment, have never been proven to be true,” he explained. “When chiropractors say & use these methods stating things that are not factually true—I believe it’s scammy behavior and practices. There are still a lot of very good, honest, and integral chiropractors out there,” he concluded. “They can provide a lot of help and relief to patients. But that’s unfortunately not the majority, and I’ve heard too many stories of people falling victim to some of these scam-like tactics from bad apple chiropractors.”

None of what DC Zierke said can surprise those who have been following my blog. On the contrary, I could add a few recent posts to his criticism of chiropractic, for example:

I rest my case.

31 Responses to Literally 99% of chiropractic is a scam

  • So why do we need chiropractors when the only valid service they offer can be better and more safely provided by physiotherapists?

    • good question!

    • Evidence that physiotherapists provide better and safer services than chiropractors?

    • So why do we need chiropractors when the only valid service they offer can be better and more safely provided by physiotherapists?

      Better? Safer? Your evidence please.

      “Moderate evidence suggests that chiropractic care for LBP appears to be equally effective as physical therapy.

      No serious adverse events were reported for any type of care.“

      https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0160037

      • Agreed, there is no evidence that physio for chronic pain of any kind is superior to merely remaining active.

        Specific exercises for chronic pain is one of several areas where physios also provide false information.

        • That doesn’t defend your original statement.

          I’ll take it you don’t have such evidence.

          • I provided discussion and citations on this in my paper “A sad state of affairs” on ResearchGate.

          • your paper doesn’t support your original claim.

            Also, why reference Rubinstein paper on SMT and acute low back pain, when your paper (June 2020) was on chronic pain and he published a paper (Feb 2019) on SMT and chronic back pain?

            Then there is this review, was it mentioned? Or did you cherry pick?

            “Subgroup analyses showed that manipulation significantly reduced pain and disability, compared with other active comparators including exercise and physical therapy.”

            Ian D Coulter et al. Spine J. 2018 May.

            These review papers, of course, came out after your paper:

            “Sufficient evidence suggest that SMT provides similar outcomes to recommended interventions, for pain relief and improvement of functional status.”

            Physiotherapy
            Volume 112, September 2021, Pages 121-134

            “SMT provides similar outcomes to recommended interventions for pain and functional status in the older adult with chronic LBP. SMT should be considered a treatment for this patient population.”

            Eur Spine J 31, 1821–1845 (2022).

            Also, chiropractic care is a multimodal approach.

            “There is varying quality of evidence that SMT has a significant short-term effect on pain relief and functional status when added to another intervention.”

            Spine: June 01, 2011 – Volume 36 – Issue 13 – p E825-E846

            “In summary, SMT may be as effective as other recommended therapies for the management of non-specific and chronic primary spine pain, including standard medical care or physical therapy. Currently, SMT is recommended in combination with exercise for neck pain as part of a multimodal approach.”

            Front. Pain Res., 25 October 2021

          • The latest Cochrane downgraded an earlier negative Cochrane by making even more negative statements about SMT. In well-designed studies not only is there not evidence of any efficacy at all, but improvements are correlated to such things as whether the therapist wore a white coat.

          • That review doesn’t support your original claim.

            “So why do we need chiropractors when the only valid service they offer can be better and more safely provided by physiotherapists?”

            Regarding the review:

            1. They combined studies of both SMT and mobilization

            2. They included studies by chiropractors, osteopaths and physical therapists

            3 chiropractic care includes more than SMT which was not covered in the review.

            4. No serious AE we’re reported in the studies reviewed.

            Safer and better? Try again.

  • Trevor Zierke is to be much congratulated for his professional and intellectual integrity.

    He would be an ideal person to explain why students train and become chiropractors and not osteopaths, physiotherapists or doctors.

    On the face of it, the answer could be: “because chiropractic is tolerant of, even promotes, tactics intendeded to mislead patients and take advantage of the gullible and vulnerable – and we can build a practice by using them.”

    There tactics are also used by swindlers, scamists, fairground hucksters, charlatans and dishonest magicians – but should not be used by healthcare practitioners whose intentention is to practice ethically and with integrity.

    All the tricks that Trevor Zierke describes, not being evidence based, are unwarranted and misleading and chiropractors who fail to obtain fully informed consent from patients are unethical.

    [Magicians are inherently honest: We say “I am going to fool you” – and then we do!
    Using sleight of hand or mind to steal or for other unethical purposes is a crime.
    Magicians ensure their ‘subjects’ know the experience offered is for entertainment purposes only]

    • Yes, this. There’s something about human nature that we want to believe and want hope, even if it isn’t real.
      The example of stage magician honesty that I like best is Derren Brown’s Seance, where he explicitly said the whole thing would be fake. In no time he had people at home being visited by their dead relatives and all sorts of strange things happening in the room.
      If you can do that when you tell people it’s fake I hate to think what you could get across humans if you tried.

    • RR: Trevor Zierke is to be much congratulated for his professional and intellectual integrity.

      Not really.

      A professional with integrity would submit a critique of the profession to a peer reviewed journal. Provide some data and references.

      That’s assuming he knows the data and has read the references, which I doubt.

      Interesting how this low level “critique” passes for applause amongst the skeptics.

  • I don’t think he knows the definition of scam.

    an illegal plan for making money, especially one that involves tricking people: (Cambridge)

    He’s just looking for his minute of fame, tickling the ears of skeptics, who will throw him away once he says something they don’t like.

    • Not going to lie, the impotent rage in your comment is making me really happy. Obviously chiropractic should be illegal then it would fit your definition perfectly.

      • John, there is plenty in the profession that I don’t like and disagree with. But I don’t see TikTok as a viable means to make those changes. It is simply a free platform for a nobody to get a minute of notice.

  • I had a hip pain for several years after some aggressive HIT exercise for a period. I went to a chiropractor and in a few minutes he identified that I had one leg slightly shorter than the other, maybe 1/2 cm. I then remembered that it was probably due to a problem as a toddler where I had to wear a brace on that leg for a period of time to straighten that foot. He did an adjustment which relieved the pain in the moment and put a small lift in one shoe. Problem solved that never returns unless I wear a pair of shoes without the lift for a couple days. Start using the lift and it goes away. No doctor had ever identified the difference in the length of the two legs in all the years that I had gone in for checkups.

    I guess I should be glad I am part of the 1%? Sorry, but I hear too many similar stories.
    Chiropractic treatment has its value where appropriate.

    • Stan

      I agree with you most of the time.
      But to say that one leg is longer is a misnomer. What actually had happened is the hips are not level from side to side, and this does occur frequently.
      This makes it appear that one leg is longer, and Chiros treat the problem as such, but it’s just not true in most cases.
      A good chiropractor will tell you as much.

    • So-called “Leg length discrepancy” is one of the scam chiro disgnosee. The way they measure leg length is not reliable. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17870420/

    • Stan: Was your ‘innate’ released? What was ‘adjusted’?
      Had you come and seen me, (an orthopaedic surgeon), I could not have identified a 1/2 cm leg length discrepancy without a scanogram (a full length XR of both legs).
      I doubt any practitioner could.

      And there lies the rub. Inter-observer and intra-observer tests simply show that a 5mm discrepancy is undetectable.

      If a shoe lift helped – great – but what height was it? If 5mm – you might have been over corrected!
      And none of this needs a chiropractor except to massage your psyche.

      • It might not Need a chiro but he was the first to identify the problem and his solution solved the problem. I would say that is reasonable “medicine”. I dont think an experienced chiro needs a scamogram for something that simple.

  • No wait, you mean subluxations aren’t real? Get outta here.

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