On this blog, we are often told that only a few chiros still believe in Palmer’s gospel of subluxation. This 2023 article seems to tell a different story.

The authors claim that the term demonstrates the widespread use and acceptance of the term subluxation and
acknowledges the broader chiropractic interpretation by recognition and adoption of the term outside the profession. In particular, it emphasizes the medical recognition supported by some of the medical evidence incorporating the
construct of a chiropractic vertebral subluxation complex and its utilization in practice.

The vertebral subluxation concept is similar to the terms spinal dysfunction, somatic dysfunction, segmental dysfunction or the vague vertebral lesion. These terms are primarily used by osteopaths, physiotherapists, and medical doctors to focus their manipulative techniques, but they relate primarily to the physical-mechanical aspects. In this respect, these terms are limited in what they signify. The implication of just plain osseous biomechanical dysfunction does not incorporate the wider ramifications of integrated neural, vascular, and internal associations which may involve greater ramifications, and should be more appropriately referred to as a vertebral subluxation complex (VSC).

The authors also claim that, in recognition of acceptance of the subluxation terminology, a 2015 study in North America found that a majority of the 7,455 chiropractic students surveyed agreed or strongly agreed (61.4%) that
the emphasis of chiropractic intervention in practice is to eliminate vertebral subluxations/vertebral subluxation complexes. A further 15.2% neutral, and only 23.3% disagreeing. It is suggested that ‘modulation’ of vertebral subluxations may have attracted an even higher rate of agreement.

The authors conclude that the evidence indicates that medicine, osteopathy, and physiotherapy have all
used the term ‘subluxation’ in the chiropractic sense. However, the more appropriate, and inclusive descriptive term of vertebral subluxation complex is widely adopted in chiropractic and the WHO ICD-10. It would be most incongruous for chiropractic to move away from using subluxation when it is so well established.

A move to deny clarity to the essence of chiropractic may well affect the public image of the profession. As Hart states ‘Identifying the chiropractic profession with a focus on vertebral subluxation would give the profession uniqueness not duplicated by other health care professions and, therefore, might legitimatise the existence of chiropractic as a health care profession. An identity having a focus on vertebral subluxation would also be consistent with the original intent of the founding of the chiropractic profession.’

The term ‘vertebral subluxation’ has been in general use and understanding in the chiropractic profession as is ‘chiropractic subluxation’ and ‘vertebral subluxation complex’ (VSC). It is a part of the profession’s heritage. Critics of concepts regarding subluxation offer no original evidence to support their case, and that appears to be just political opinion rather than providing evidence to substantiate their stand.

The evidence presented in this paper supports the contention that there would be no vertebrogenic symptoms associated with physiologically normal vertebral segments. The term designated by chiropractors to identify abnormal or pathophysiological segmental dysfunction is the vertebral subluxation. It has been a part of chiropractic heritage for over 120 years.


Vis a vis such a diatribe of compact BS, I am tempted to point out that “critics of concepts regarding subluxation offer no original evidence to support their case” mainly because it is not they who have to produce the evidence. It is the chiropractic profession that needs to do that.

But they are evidently unable to do it.


Because chiropractic subluxation is a myth and an invention by their chief charlatan.

It is true that this fabrication is intimately linked to the identity of chiropractic.

It is furthermore true that chiros feel unable to throw it overboard because they would lose their identity.

What follows is simple:

Chiropractic is a fraud.





18 Responses to Chiropractic subluxation: the myth must be kept alive

  • Oh dear.
    Now intending chiropractors, and even qualified chiropractors with integrity, will have to train as medical doctors, physiotherapists or conceivably, osteopaths.
    So be it.
    It’s called ‘progress’.

    (P.S. Whatever happened to ‘innate’?)

    • Whenever I encounter the term “innate intelligence” I think of I.Q. (Intelligence Quotient). So, if there’s a test to find out how smart we are, why haven’t the chiros come up with an I.I.Q. – a way of testing our Innate Intelligence Quotient?

      OK, I admit that this is a silly concept – but certainly no sillier than the concept of “innate intelligence.!”

    • “Whatever happened to ‘innate’? “

      LOL, this is what’s happening on this side of the pond, Dr. Rawlins.

      A Google search with the following words “innate chiropractic” will give you a dizzying array of chiropractic practices using the word ‘innate’ in practice name.

      Innate Chiropractic: claims that they can treat a range of conditions from addiction to HIV and infertility by getting rid of subluxations.

      Innate Chiropractic & Wellness Studio: at your service for the wellness-oriented clientele to fine tune their innate wellbeing.

      Innate Chiropractic Center will treat “a wide gamut of health and pain problems” such as mood/panic, diet, gastro or intestine problems…… massage therapy, x-rays and Chiropractic adjustment. Wasn’t sure why the last three were listed as conditions they can treat, but I guess you need to go to a chiro get your “chiropractic adjustment” treated.

      INNATE FAMILY CHIROPRACTIC: will treat your whole family with a “whole-body approach to help them achieve optimal health”

      Innate Health Chiropractic:
      “Chiropractic care allows your body to heal naturally from the inside out and function the way it was designed to. With the body’s innate ability to heal itself and through embracing the 4 Pillars to Health, we believe you can achieve your true wellness potential.
      FAITH. Experience purpose, fulfillment, and freedom in this life.
      FUNCTION. Discover natural healing through a healthy nervous system.
      FITNESS. Embrace movement as a way of life.
      FOOD. Fuel the trillions of cells that give life to your body.”

      I can go on and on but I will stop now and let you pick from the list above if you want to get your subluxations vanquished and innate life force fine-tuned to perfection.

  • “It is furthermore true that chiros feel unable to throw it overboard because they would lose their identity.”

    And this:

    Chiropractic: it’s the money, stupid!
    Published Tuesday 02 April 2019

    Blue Wode: I understand that Medicare only pays for manual manipulation of the spine to correct subluxations. Is anyone able to confirm this?

    ‘DC’: Yes, that is true.

    [my bolding]

    • Richard Rawlins wrote: “Whatever happened to ‘innate’?”

      In the UK, apparently it is still duping the public if the following handful of examples are anything to go by. They are lifted from the first pages (of 17 page returns) of a Google search for: UK “innate intelligence” chiro

      “Chiropractic works with the innate intelligence of the human body which is co-ordinated by your brain and nervous system; this in turn co-ordinates millions of vital bodily functions through instructions and information sent through the nervous system to the organs and the cells of the body.”

      “Adjustment…allows innate intelligence to flow unimpeded through the nervous system”

      “Your adjustments fire up your innate intelligence and your bodies in born ability to heal itself.”

      “Chiropractic adjustments aim to correct nerve interference by improving nerve supply, thus maximising the innate healing potential of the body.”

      “Destiny is a vitalistic chiropractor and owner of Destiny Chiropractic in West Malling, Kent. She uses specific chiropractic adjustments to re-connect people with Source energy, their innate intelligence and their own natural healing abilities…Destiny is frequently asked to present talks on chiropractic to peers and students at seminars across Europe…Destiny is a passionate supporter of the only chiropractic orphanage in the world, based in Haiti (apparently providing chiropractic care and cranial-sacral therapy )…Destiny holds a Bachelor of Science degree and Doctorate in Chiropractic from the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic and University of Portsmouth. She is a Member of the United Chiropractic Association and is registered with the General Chiropractic Council (reg no. 01284).”

      “Our vitalistic belief is that we are all born with an innate intelligence which allows our body to heal itself, regulate itself and adapt to its environment, and the nervous system plays the most vital role in all of this.”

      The above can be viewed as extremely pertinent evidence regarding what the Professional Standards Authority had to say about Innate Intelligence in its paper from its Academic & Research Conference 2015:

      “The statutory regulation of chiropractic in the UK has influenced how chiropractors portray themselves and how they practise, however: • The challenge of Innate Intelligence has not gone away. • The public image of chiropractic and what is said in private are not always the same. • The struggle for hearts and minds is ongoing.”

      See p.12 here:

    • Yes, when chiropractic was moving to get into the Medicare system the original draft did not have the word subluxation mentioned. This was intentionally done by the ACA. The ICA, the traditionalist chiropractors, objected and said if the word was not included they would lobby to exclude chiropractic from Medicare. It was decided to go ahead and put the word in instead of getting into a long and expensive battle.

      • FWIW…”A physician, Johannes Hieronymi, in his published dissertation of 1746 (38), appears to have been the first person to use the term “subluxation” with regard to spinal dysfunction. In 1820–1821, the publications of medical physicians William and Daniel Griffen and Edward Harrison (38) not only used the word “subluxation” but also described the use of spinous and transverse processes as levers to adjust subluxations.”

        • QUOTE
          Vertebral subluxation, Wikipedia

          The use of the word vertebral subluxation should not be confused with the term’s precise usage in medicine, which considers only the anatomical relationships.[7]

          According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a chiropractic subluxation is a “dysfunction in a joint or motion segment in which alignment, movement integrity and/or physiological function are altered, although contact between joint surfaces remains intact”. Chiropractic subluxation should not be confused with the medical condition subluxation, which is a “significant structural displacement” visible on static imaging studies such as X-rays [my emphasis]. Chiropractic is a field of alternative treatment outside scientific mainstream medicine, whose practitioners (chiropractors) are not medical doctors.

          END of QUOTE

          7. Guidelines for Chiropractic Quality Assurance and Practice Parameters: Proceedings of the Mercy Center Consensus Conference
          Scott Haldeman, David Chapman-Smith, Donald M. Petersen
          Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2004

      • Twenty Things Most Chiropractors Won’t Tell You
        The following is a guest post by Preston H. Long. It is an excerpt from his new book entitled ‘Chiropractic Abuse—A Chiropractor’s Lament’.…

        17. Insurance companies don’t want to pay for chiropractic care.

        Chiropractors love to brag that their services are covered by Medicare and most insurance companies. However, this coverage has been achieved though political action rather than scientific merit. I have never encountered an insurance company that would reimburse for chiropractic if not forced to do so by state laws. The political pressure to mandate chiropractic coverage comes from chiropractors, of course, but it also comes from the patients whom they have brainwashed.

        • Re one of the quotes in Pete Attkins’ post: “Insurance companies don’t want to pay for chiropractic care. Chiropractors love to brag that their services are covered by Medicare and most insurance companies. However, this coverage has been achieved though political action rather than scientific merit…The political pressure to mandate chiropractic coverage comes from chiropractors, of course, but it also comes from the patients whom they have brainwashed.”

          There’s also this to consider: Prof. Ernst’s anecdote about why insurance companies pay for dubious treatments …

          [Insurance company representatives] “We know the evidence, of course, and we know how flimsy it is…we still pay for it, because the competition does it too. We cannot be seen to offer less than they do. This is purely a commercial decision about being seen to be competitive.”


      • DC wrote: “when chiropractic was moving to get into the Medicare system the original draft did not have the word subluxation mentioned”

        Nowadays, it’s more than likely that chiropractors who deliberately choose not to use the word ‘subluxation’ (because of the baggage it carries) are simply using other ways to describe it. After all, there are 329 terms that relate to, are synonyms for, or have been used or cited in connection with describing a subluxation or aspects of a Vertebral Subluxation Complex. It follows, therefore, that the chiropractic subluxation can be anything a chiropractor needs it to be. The enormous list of terms in the link below are lifted from Rome P.L., Usage of chiropractic terminology in the literature — 296 ways to say ‘subluxation’, Chiropractic Technique 1996;8:1-12.


  • Prof. Ernst wrote: “Chiropractic is a fraud.”

    I don’t see how anyone could find fault with that statement. Indeed, here’s a timely reminder of how the apparent fraud has been perpetuated in recent times in the UK and globally:

    Firstly, in 2010, the vitalistic Alliance of UK Chiropractors (which claims to be the largest of the four UK chiropractic associations), pressured the UK chiropractor regulator, the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), into changing its original stance about there being no evidence to link imaginary chiropractic subluxations to ‘health concerns’.

    The pressure was applied by using a ‘dossier’ on the Vertebral Subluxation Complex which, incidentally, was co-authored by Peter Rome, one of the others in the paper being discussed in the blog post above. You can read the dossier in its entirety here:

    Shockingly, when the GCC caved in to the Alliance of UK Chiropractors, it seemed to provide no evidence to the public to support its U-turn. For readers interested, the astonishing links and references relating to the GCC’s chiropractor-friendly decision can be found here:

    In a nutshell, the GCC’s change of heart has meant that UK chiropractors, to this day, can detect and correct mythical chiropractic subluxations by linking them to ‘health concerns’ of their choosing.

    Internationally, things seem just as bad. For example, the current Secretary-General of the 85-country strong World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC), Richard Brown (former British Chiropractic Association president), is on record with this from 2017:

    “The WFC has unity as one of its core pillars. While it would seem very simple to cut adrift a section of the chiropractic community with whom we disagree, the reality is that this is neither possible nor desirable…The richness of the chiropractic profession lies in its diversity of approaches…Education is delivered differently. The philosophy of chiropractic care takes many forms, some aligned with other health professions, others quite distinct…The WFC values evidence-informed care and promotes research as a means of developing the chiropractic profession.”
    Ref: (pp 5-6)

    Some have suggested that it may be time for a chiropractic divorce but, unfortunately for chiropractors, a successful divorce would require an enormous public relations campaign that would likely further damage the reputation of chiropractors in general. Meanwhile (and notwithstanding that evidence-based ‘chiropractic’ is an oxymoron), the bottom line is that there continue to be no well-publicised directories available to the public and healthcare professionals to which they can turn in order to find chiropractors who do not treat fictitious subluxations, who read good, scientific journals, and who look consistently for best evidence and apply it. Ergo, IMO, it looks like the marriage will continue well into the future – in the form of an arranged one based on pecuniary interests – similar to what Michael C. Copland-Griffiths, former Chairman of the UK General Chiropractic Council, described some years ago:

    “In spite of strong mutual suspicion and distrust, the profession united under a group formed specifically to pursue regulation and secured the Chiropractors Act (1994)…..Regulation for a new profession will literally ‘legitimise it’, establishing its members within the community, making them feel more valued. In turn, this brings greater opportunity for more clients and a healthier bank balance.”

    • Blue Wode cites a quote that refers to “… the richness of the chiropractic profession…”

      Richness! Hah! Hah! That’s my first good laugh of the day. The only “richness” of that business can be found in its practitioners’ getting rich from fleecing their customers out of large amounts of money for which they get nothing in return.

  • A recent BBC inside health podcast on back pain included a chiropractor on the panel- he said very little however and the host seldom invited his opinion

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