The concept that the outcomes of spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) – the hallmark intervention of chiropractors which they use on practically every patient – are optimized when the treatment is aimed at a clinically relevant joint is commonly assumed and central to teaching and clinical use of chiropractic. But is the assumption true?
This systematic review investigated whether clinical effects are superior when this is the case compared to SMT applied elsewhere. Eligible study designs were randomized controlled trials that investigated the effect of SMT applied to candidate versus non-candidate sites for spinal pain.
The authors obtained studies from four different databases. Risk of bias was assessed using an adjusted Cochrane risk of bias tool, adding four items for study quality. Between-group differences were extracted for any reported outcome or, when not reported, calculated from the within-group changes. Outcomes were compared for SMT applied at a ‘relevant’ site to SMT applied elsewhere. The authors prioritized methodologically robust studies when interpreting results.
Ten studies were included. They reported 33 between-group differences; five compared treatments within the same spinal region and five at different spinal regions.
None of the nine studies with low or moderate risk of bias reported statistically significant between-group differences for any outcome. The tenth study reported a small effect on pain (1.2/10, 95%CI – 1.9 to – 0.5) but had a high risk of bias. None of the nine articles of low or moderate risk of bias and acceptable quality reported that “clinically-relevant” SMT has a superior outcome on any outcome compared to “not clinically-relevant” SMT. This finding contrasts with ideas held in educational programs and clinical practice that emphasize the importance of joint-specific application of SMT.
The authors concluded that the current evidence does not support that SMT applied at a supposedly “clinically relevant” candidate site is superior to SMT applied at a supposedly “not clinically relevant” site for individuals with spinal pain.
I came across this study when I searched for the published work of Prof Stephen Perle, a chiropractor and professor at the School of Chiropractic, College of Health Sciences, University of Bridgeport, US, who recently started trolling me on this blog. Against my expectation, I find his study interesting and worthwhile.
His data quite clearly show that the effects of SMT are non-specific and mainly due to a placebo response. That in itself is not hugely remarkable and has been suspected to some time, e.g.:
- Chiropractic manipulation for migraine is a placebo therapy
- Chiropractic treatments are placebos
- Chiropractic spinal manipulation = placebo!
- Manual therapy (mainly chiropractic and osteopathy) does not have clinically relevant effects on back pain compared with sham treatment
- Manual therapies for back pain: not better than a placebo
- Is spinal manipulation a placebo therapy?
What is remarkable, however, is the fact that Perle and his co-authors offer all sorts of other explanation for their findings without even seriously considering what is stareing in their faces:
SPINAL MANIPULATIONS ARE PLACEBOS
CHIROPRACTIC IS A PLACEBO THERAPY
This might be almost acceptable, if chiropractic would not also be burdened with significant risks (as we have discussed ad nauseam on this blog) – another fact of which chiros like Perle are in denial.
What does all that mean for patients?
The practical implication is fairly straight forward: the risk/benefit balance of chiropractic is negative. And this surely means the only responsible advice to patients is this:
NEVER CONSULT A CHIRO!
Bioenergy therapies are among the popular so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) treatments. They are used for many diseases, including cancer. Many studies deal with the advantages and disadvantages of bioenergy therapies as an addition to established treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation in the treatment of cancer. However, a systematic overview of this evidence is thus far lacking. For this reason, the available evidence was reviewed and critically examined in this paper.
A systematic search was conducted searching five electronic databases (Embase, Cochrane, PsychInfo, CINAHL and Medline) to find randomized clinical trials concerning the use, effectiveness and potential harm of bioenergy therapies including Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Healing Touch and Polarity Therapy on cancer patients.
From all 2477 search results, 21 publications with 1375 patients were included in this systematic review. The patients treated with bioenergy therapies were mainly diagnosed with breast cancer. The main outcomes measured were anxiety, depression, mood, fatigue, quality of life (QoL), comfort, well-being, neurotoxicity, pain, and nausea. The studies were predominantly of moderate quality and for the most part found no effect. In terms of QoL, pain and nausea, there were improved short-term effects of the interventions, but no long-term differences were detectable. The risk of side effects from bioenergy therapies appears to be relatively small. Most studies only had a passive control group. Accordingly, in contrast to the active bioenergy therapies groups, attention effects may strongly affect the results. In the comparisons with an active control group, for example a sham group, no effects were detectable.
The authors concluded that, considering the methodical limitations of the included studies, studies with high study quality could not find any difference between bioenergy therapies and active (placebo, massage, RRT, yoga, meditation, relaxation training, companionship, friendly visit) and passive control groups (usual care, resting, education). Only studies with a low study quality were able to show significant effects.
This conclusion will not surprise anyone who is capable of rational thinking. Energy healing methods are implausible; further research into this area is a pure wast of money and arguably unethical.
On the occasion of a talk that I recently gave in Italy, I was interviewed by VANITY FAIR ITALY. I gave it in English and it was published in Italian. As I don’t expect many readers to be fluent in Italian and since it was a good interview, in my view, I thought I give you here the English original:
1.How can we exactly define «alternative medicine»?
There is much confusion and a plethora of definitions, none of which is fully satisfactory. In fact, the term “alternative medicine” itself is nonsensical: if a therapy works, it belongs to evidence-based medicine; and if it doesn’t work, it cannot possibly be an alternative. I therefore have long been calling it “so-called alternative medicine” (SCAM). The definition I use for SCAM with lay audiences is simple: SCAM is an umbrella term for a diverse range of therapeutic and diagnostic methods that have little in common, other than being excluded from mainstream medicine.
2.Who uses it and why?
Predominantly women! Statistics say about 30-70% of the general population use SCAM. And with patient populations, the percentage can be close to 100%. They use it because they are told over and over again that SCAM is natural and thus safe, as well as effective for all sorts of conditions.
3.Focusing on terminology, is there a difference between «complementary» and «alternative» medicine?
Theoretically, there is a big difference between «complementary» and «alternative» medicine. The former is supposed to be used as an add-on to, while the latter is a replacement of mainstream medicine. In practice, this dividing line is very blurred; most SCAMs are used in both ways, depending on the actual situation and circumstance.
4.Are users different from non-users?
Yes, there has been much research on this and my reading of it is that SCAM users tend to be less intelligent, more religious, more superstitious, less trusting in science, and more prone to conspiracy theories, for instance.
5.Which forms of alternative medicine are the most popular?
There are certain national differences, but in most European countries herbal medicine, acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy, homeopathy, aromatherapy, and reflexology are amongst the most popular SCAMs.
6.Does it work?
With such a wide range – someone once counted over 400 modalities and my last book evaluated 202 of them (Alternative Medicine: A Critical Assessment of 202 Modalities (Copernicus Books): Amazon.co.uk: Ernst, Edzard: 9783031107092: Books) – it is impossible to answer with yes or no. In addition we need to consider the conditions that are being treated. Acupuncture, for example, is touted as a panacea, but might just work for pain. If you take all this into account, I estimate that less than 3% of the therapeutic claims that are being made for SCAM are supported by sound evidence.
Is it safe?
Again, impossible to say. Some treatments are outright dangerous; for instance, chiropractic neck manipulations can injure an artery and the patient suffers a stroke of which she can even die. Other treatments are assumed to be entirely harmless; for example homeopathy. But even that is untrue: if a cancer patient relies exclusively on homeopathy for a cure, she might easily hasten her death. Sadly, such things happen not even rarely.
Do its benefits outweigh its risks?
That depends very much on the treatment, the disease, and the precise situation. Generally speaking, there are very few SCAMs that fulfill this condition.
You said that these were the research questions that occupied all your life in Exeter. Did you find the answers?
We published more on SCAM than any other research group, and we found mostly disappointing answers. But still, I am proud of having found at least some of the most pressing answers. Even negative answers can make an important contribution to our knowledge.
7.What is the problem with the placebo effect?
All therapies can prompt a placebo effect. Thus an ineffective treatment can easily appear to be effective through generating a placebo effect. This is why we need to rely on properly conducted, if possible placebo-controlled trials, if we want to know what works and what not.
8.Is it true that some alternative medicines can cause significant harm?
9.What about herbal remedies? What do studies show about them?
Many of our modern drugs originate from plants, Therefore, it is not surprising that we find herbal remedies that are effective. But careful! This also means that plants can kill you – think of hemlock, for instance. In addition herbal medicine can interact powerfully with synthetic drugs. So, it is wise to be cautious and get responsible advice.
10.Which alternative therapies are overrated and why?
In my view, almost all SCAMs are over-rated. If you go on the Internet, you find ~5 000 000 websites on SCAM. 99% of them try to sell you something and are unreliable or even dangerous. We need to be aware of the fact that SCAM has grown into a huge business and many entrepreneurs are out to get your money based on bogus claims.
11.On the contrary, which therapies could be seen as an integration in routine care?
The best evidence can be found in the realm of herbal medicine, for instance St John’s Wort. Some mind-body interventions can be helpful; also a few massage techniques might be worth a try. Not a lot, I’m afraid.
12.Would you tell us what happened in 2005 with Prince Charles?
He complained about my actions via his private secretary to my University. A 13 month investigation followed. At the end, I was found not guilty but my funding, my team, my infrastructure had been dismantled. So, in effect, Charles managed to close down what was the only research group that looked critically and systematically into SCAM. A sad story – not so much for me but for progress and science, I think.
3.Why is alternative medicine still a controversial subject?
Mainly because the gap between the claims and the evidence is so very wide – and getting wider all the time.
14.Would you suggest the «right way» to approach it?
I often recommend this: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! I might add that, if you want reliable advice, don’t listen to those who profit from giving it.
Traditionally, strokes were considered a condition primarily affecting older adults. But in recent years, doctors have noticed a disturbing trend: the rise of stroke cases among younger adults, a demographic that was once considered low-risk. New data reveals an increase in the number of young adults facing an unexpected battle with strokes. Experts point to poor lifestyle choices as the main risk factor. Smoking, unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, and increased stress have played a role because they lead to problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity.
But one risk factor most people don’t consider has to do with chiropractic adjustments. US doctors say forceful and rapid neck rotations during these procedures can potentially cause damage to the vertebral arteries supplying blood to the brain stem. “We see five, if it’s a bad year, up to eight or 10 a year per hospital, and some of them can be quite devastating because the brain stem and the cerebellum are in an enclosed compartment and that only so much room,” said Dr. Melissa McDonald, with McKay Dee Hospital.
Stroke symptoms in young adults are similar to those seen in older adults: weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg; sudden change in speech, difficulty walking or keeping your balance; and sudden severe headaches and change in vision. Any of these symptoms require immediate medical attention, but doctors say younger adults tend to wait longer than older adults to go to the ER.
Dr. McDonald says younger adults face an increased risk of complications from brain swelling following a stroke due to the relatively larger size of their brains within the skull compared to older individuals.
Readers of this blog can hardly be surprised by this news. I have often enough reported on the fact that chiropractic adjustments can cause a stroke, e.g.:
- Another case of stroke due to chiropractic
- One chiropractic treatment followed by two strokes
- Cervical artery dissection and stroke related to chiropractic manipulation
- An unusual case report of a stroke caused by chiropractic neck manipulation
- New data on the risk of stroke due to chiropractic spinal manipulation
- Chiropractic neck manipulation can cause stroke
And what is the solution?
I’m glad you asked; it is simple! In the words of one neurologists:
DON’T LET THE BUGGARS TOUCH YOUR NECK!
We have discussed the homeopathic obscession with bovine mastitis before. For instance, we have looked at this systematic review which did exactly that. Its authors are highly respected and come from institutions that are not likely to promote bogus claims:
- Département de Sciences Cliniques, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, Canada
- Département de Sciences Cliniques, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, Canada
- Canadian Bovine Mastitis and Milk Quality Research Network, Canada
- Canadian Bovine Mastitis and Milk Quality Research Network, Canada
- Sherbrooke Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
- Canadian Bovine Mastitis and Milk Quality Research Network, Canada
- Département de Pathologie et Microbiologie, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montreal, Canada.
A total of 2,451 manuscripts were first identified and 39 manuscripts corresponding to 41 studies were included. Among these, 22 were clinical trials, 18 were experimental studies, and one was an observational study. The treatments evaluated were conventional anti-inflammatory drugs (n = 14), oxytocin with or without frequent milk out (n = 5), biologics (n = 9), homeopathy (n = 5), botanicals (n = 4), probiotics (n = 2), and other alternative products (n = 2). All trials had at least one unclear or high risk of bias. Most trials (n = 13) did not observe significant differences in clinical or bacteriological cure rates in comparison with negative or positive controls. Few studies evaluated the effect of treatment on milk yield. In general, the power of the different studies was very low, thus precluding conclusions on non-inferiority or non-superiority of the treatments investigated. No evidence-based recommendations could be given for the use of an alternative or non-antimicrobial conventional treatment for clinical mastitis. The authors concluded that homeopathic treatments are not efficient for management of clinical mastitis.
Did this finally stop homeopaths from claiming that their placebos work for mastitis?
I would not count on it!
Will it stop homeopaths to conduct trials of the subject?
Recently a new study has emerged. Its aim was to assess the potential of a novel homeopathic complex medicine in managing bovine mastitis. Twenty-four lactating Holstein cows with mastitis were divided into two groups: the homeopathic complex group received a homeopathic complex daily for 60 days at a dose of 20 g/d; the placebo group received the calcium carbonate vehicle without homeopathic medicines at the same dose and repetition. The main outcome measure was somatic cell count (SCC; cells/mL), with additional outcome measures including milk production (kg/d), milk constituents (percentage of protein, fat, lactose and total milk solids), and serum levels of cortisol, glucose, ammonia and lactic acid. All outcomes were measured at the beginning of the study and after 30 and 60 days. Milk samples were also collected from all animals at the beginning of the study, confirming a high (>0.2) MAR index for isolated bacterial cultures.
Assessment of SCC showed a statistically significant difference favoring the homeopathic complex versus placebo group at day 60. A reduction in serum cortisol levels and an increase in fat, lactose and total milk solids in animals treated with the homeopathic complex at day 60 were also seen. Other outcome measures did not show statistically significant inter-group differences.
The authors from the Paranaense University-Praça Mascarenhas de Moraes, Umuarama, Paraná, Brazil, concluded that the results of this non-randomized, open-label, placebo-controlled trial suggest the potential for a novel homeopathic complex medicine in management of multiple antibiotic-resistant bovine mastitis, thus offering dairy farmers an additional option to antibiotics and making dairy products safer for consumer health and milk production more sustainable.
Here are just some of the most obvious points of concern:
- The trial was supported by the manufacturer of the homeopathic product, yet the authors declare no conflicts of interest.
- The exact nature of the product remains unknown to anyone like me who tried to obtain the information by searching the websites of the manufacturer, etc.
- The trial was non-ramdomized and open label, i.e. wide open to bias, yet the authors do not shy away from drawing firm conclusions.
- There is no plausible rationale for homeopathy in this (or any other) indication.
- Homeopathy for animals contradicts the gospel of Hahnemann, its inventor.
- Overwhelmingly, the evidence fails to show that homeopathy is effective for bovine mastitis.
I do understand that manufacturers smell a lucrative market, but I still think that, for serious veterianarians, scientists, journal editors, etc., the subject should be closed.
Much of the discussions on this blog are directly or indirectly related to the subject of research integrity. Research integrity refers to the ethical and professional standards that researchers must adhere to while conducting research. It involves conducting research in a way that allows others to have confidence and trust in the methods and findings of the research. Research integrity includes honesty, rigour, transparency, open communication, care and respect for all participants, and accountability. According to the ‘Concordat To Support Research Integrity‘, the core elements of research integrity are:
- Honesty in all aspects of research, including in the presentation of research goals, intentions and findings; in reporting on research methods and procedures; in gathering data; in using and acknowledging the work of other researchers; and in conveying valid interpretations and making justifiable claims based on research findings.
- Rigour, in line with prevailing disciplinary norms and standards, and in performing research and using appropriate methods; in adhering to an agreed protocol where appropriate; in drawing interpretations and conclusions from the research; and in communicating the results.
- Transparency and open communication in declaring potential competing interests in the reporting of research data collection methods; in the analysis and interpretation of data; in making research findings widely available, which includes publishing or otherwise sharing negative or null results to recognise their value as part of the research process; and in presenting the work to other researchers and to the public.
- Care and respect for all participants in research, and for the subjects, users and beneficiaries of research, including humans, animals, the environment and cultural objects. Those engaged with research must also show care and respect for the integrity of the research record.
- Accountability of funders, employers and researchers to collectively create a research environment in which individuals and organisations are empowered and enabled to own the research process. Those engaged with research must also ensure that individuals and organisations are held to account when behaviour falls short of the standards set by this concordat.
These points apply to all types and aspects of research and to all individuals involved in it. Obviously, they apply also to research of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). I will therefore briefly discuss each point in respect of SCAM research.
Honesty in research is an important ethical prerequisite. In SCAM, we regularly see that the honesty seems to be in short supply. There are many ways in which lack of honesty shows itself. For me, the most impressive one is when SCAM researchers disclose – as they often do – that their aim is to demostrate that their assumptions/theories/hypotheses are correct. In such cases, they abuse the tools of science which are not for confirming hypotheses but for testing, i.e. trying to falsifying them. This blog offers plenty of examples for this phenomenon (e.g. here or here)
The lack of rigor in much of SCAM research is legend and has become a constant theme on this blog. How often have we seen useless and unnecessary observational studies or pilot studies on subjects where controlled trials already exist? How often have we lamented over misinterpretation of a study’s findings? How often have we reported research that was ill-conceived from the outset, unable to answer any meaningful research question? My all time favourite examples of drawing a wrong conclusions are from the area of homeopathy, e.g. here and here.
Much of SCAM research is being conducted by SCAM enthusiasts who have no qualitification or experience in research or science. Inevitably, this must lead to bias. Just think of the fact that some countries, e.g. China, or some SCAM journals, or some SCAM researchers (e.g. THE ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE HALL OF FAME) publish as good as no negative findings
Lack of respect for research subjects has many guises. For instance, if clinical trials are being conducted of treatments that are utterly implausible. This, in my view, constitutes an abuse of the willingness of volunteers to make a contribution to research. Another example is the incessant flow of untrustworthy research by SCAM enthusiasts which eventually can only erode the public’s trust in research and is bound to render the essential cooperation of researchers and volunteers more and more problematic.
When I think of accountability, I think yet again of the men and women in my ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE HALL OF FAME. As any of its members ever been held accountable for misleading the public through their pseudo-research? Sadly, the answer, as far as I know, is NO.
Fraud in US chiropractic care is on the rise. A shocking 82 percent of the chiropractic services billed to Medicare is unallowable, according to a recent audit by the Office of Inspector General. The audit found a lack of effective controls allowed an estimated $358.8 million in taxpayer funds to be improperly billed to Medicare.
Chiropractors engage in fraudulent billing practices in a variety of ways. Sometimes they target environments like nursing homes or substance abuse rehabilitation centers, looking for new patients who may – or may not – require their services.
In one case, a St. Louis-based chiropractor bribed police officers to get access to personal information about individuals who had been in car accidents. The chiropractor then contacted the accident victims and claimed to be from an insurance company or the state to arrange appointments at his practice.
In another case, a Houston-based chiropractor and his medical group settled with the federal government for $2.6 million and were also banned from billing federal programs for 10 years due to their involvement with a fraudulent billing scheme.
Lastly, in 2021, a chiropractor was found guilty of federal criminal charges, including five counts of healthcare fraud. The chiropractor was accused of defrauding health insurers by submitting $2.2 million in billings for chiropractic services that were never provided, office visits that never occurred, false diagnoses, and falsely prescribed medical devices.
Although other medical specialties also have bad actors, certain specific reasons can be identified as to why fraudulent billing and abuse have been increasing among chiropractors. These practitioners have fewer lower-cost codes to bill for, which means they need more patients to boost their earnings. For example, a service may only be billed at $25 or $50, but if this is billed to every patient on every visit, it quickly adds up. Because employers often have limited resources, it’s easy for minor charges to go unnoticed.
According to a 2018 report, the inspector general has conducted numerous evaluations and audits of chiropractic services since 2005 and has identified hundreds of millions of dollars in overpayments for services that did not meet Medicare requirements. The report also noted that the OIG’s investigations and legal actions involving chiropractors have demonstrated that chiropractic services are susceptible to healthcare fraud.
Personally, I am not surprised by such reports. Sure, not all chiropractors committ financial fraud. But arguably ALL chiropractors are dishonest when they tell their patients that their spinal manipulations are effective and safe for a wide range of conditions. To put it bluntly: chiropractic was founded by a crook on a bunch of lies and unethical behavior, therefore, it is hardly surprising that today the profession has a problem with honesty and fraudulent behavior.
Suzanne Somers, born Suzanne Marie Mahoney on October 16, 1946 in San Bruno, California, was an American actress, author and businesswoman. Somers has published several best-selling self-help books, such as I’m Too Young for This! and The Natural Hormone Solution to Enjoy Menopause. In 2001, it was reported that she had breast cancer and was opting for so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) to treat it, In particular, she used Iscador, a preparation of mistletoe that we have discissed many times before on this blog, e.g.:
- A systematic analysis of the mistletoe prescriptions used in clinical studies
- Prof Harald Walach reviews mistletoe and arrives at a positive conclusion
- Mistletoe treatment for cancer is useless and should be discouraged
- Mistletoe for cancer: Does it improve patients’ quality of life?
- Mistletoe for cancer: the saga continues
- Mistletoe, a cancer therapy? You must be joking!
In an interview with Larry King in 2001, Somers revealed that she had been receiving treatment for a year. She also explained that she refused to go through with chemotherapy and instead used SCAM. “I decided to find alternative things to do,” she continued. “Because I have done so much work in my books about hormones, and that hormonal balance is why people gain or lose weight, and, it was my belief that a balanced environment of hormones prevents disease. And the first thing they said to me, we are taking of off all hormones. I said no, I’m going to continue taking my hormones, which is the first thing against the common course…”
Recently, it was reported that Somers has died of cancer aged 76. Earlier this year, Somers said they had “used the best alternative and conventional treatments to combat it [her cancer].” But now, a source close to the star shares that many around her didn’t like it. Somers’ friends tried to convince her to ditch SCAM in favor of chemotherapy. “She was advised by several people to consider the more conventional approach, but she did not listen,” a source close to Somers told the Daily Mail. The source continued, “She has always rejected chemo, so it wasn’t even an option. Her friends and loved ones urged her to reconsider so many times during her cancer battles and at the end.” A statement read. “Her family was gathered to celebrate her 77th birthday on October 16th. Instead, they will celebrate her extraordinary life, and want to thank her millions of fans and followers who loved her dearly.”
Perhaps this sad case is an apt occasion for rephrasing the warning that I posted only a few days ago:
be very cautious about using SCAMs for cancer and seek professional advice, preferably NOT from a SCAM provider.
The BBC has a popular program entitled JUST ONE THING presented by Dr, Michael Mosely. In each of these short broadcasts, Mosely presents JUST ONE THING that will make your life more healthy. Whenever I listen to them, I get slightly irritated. Mosely is clearly a very skilled presenter and makes complicated things easy to understand; but for my taste his approach is totally devoid of critical thinking. This is obviously the point of the series and probably one reason for its success. So, maybe it needs to be tolerated – perhaps, but surely not if it seriously misleads the public on important health issues.
The most recent broadcast was entitled EMBRACE THE RAIN and, in my view, it did cross this crucial line. Mosely explained that after it has rained, the air is full of negative ions and these ions are effective against depression. The center piece was his interview with Prof Michael Terman who explained some of his research on the subject, in particular a clinical trial which showed that intensely ionized air was effective against depression. Terman explained that this was more than a placebo effect, that it worked even for serious chronic depressed patients, and that the effect was better than standard treatments.
At no stage was there an even mildly critical question from Mosely. Consequently many depressed patients might now abandon their standard treatments and opt for air ionizers in their homes or walks in the rain which was deemed to be just as effective. In view of the fact that chronic depression, through its suicide risk, can be a life-threatening condition, I find this rather concerning.
My concerns were not exactly alleviated when I did a quick search for the evidence. The most recent review on the subject states that there has been considerable interest in the potential effects of negative air ions (NAIs) on human health and well-being, but the conclusions have been inconsistent and the mechanisms remain unclear. So, why does Terman promote NAIs as though they are the best thing since sliced bread? It took me less than a minute to find a possible answer: he holds a patent for a NEGATIVE ION GENERATOR!
It is laudable of the BBC and Michael Mosely to present aspects of healthcare in a simple, understandable way. Yet, it would be even more laudable, if they did their homework a bit better and, crucially, tried to also educate the public in critical thinking. After all ’embracing the rain’ will not change lives but critical thinking most certainly does!
If you assumed that the best management of a child by chiropractors is not to treat this patient and refer to a proper doctor, think again. This paper was aimed at building upon existing recommendations on best practices for chiropractic management of children by conducting a formal consensus process and best evidence synthesis. Its authors composed a best practice guide based on recommendations from current best available evidence and formal consensus of a panel of experienced practitioners, consumers, and experts for chiropractic management of pediatric patients. They thus syntheized results of a literature search to inform the development of recommendations from a multidisciplinary steering committee, including experts in pediatrics, followed by a formal Delphi panel consensus process.
The consensus process was conducted June to August 2022. All 60 panelists completed the process and reached at least 80% consensus on all recommendations after three Delphi rounds. Recommendations for best practices for chiropractic care for children addressed the following aspects of the clinical encounter:
- patient communication, including informed consent;
- appropriate clinical history, including health habits;
- appropriate physical examination procedures;
- red flags/contraindications to chiropractic care and/or spinal manipulation;
- aspects of chiropractic management of pediatric patients, including infants;
- modifications of spinal manipulation and other manual procedures for pediatric patients;
- appropriate referral and comanagement;
- appropriate health promotion and disease prevention practices.
The authors concluded that this set of recommendations represents a general framework for an evidence-informed and reasonable approach to the management of pediatric patients by chiropractors.
Whenever I read the term ‘evidence-informed’ I need to giggle. Why not evidence-based? Evidence-informed might mean that chiros are informed that their treatments are useless or even dangerous for children … but, on reflection and taking their own need for earning a living, they subsequently ignore these facts. And sure enough, the authors of the present paper do mention that a Cochrane review concluded that spinal manipulation is not recommended for children under 12, for a number of conditions, or for general wellness … only to then go on and ignore the very fact.
In doing so, the authors issue a string of self-evident platitudes which occasionally border on the irresponsible. For instance, under the heading of ‘primary prevention’, vaccinations are mentioned as the very last item with the following words:
If parents ask for advice or information about childhood vaccinations, explain that they have the right to make their own health decisions. They should be adequately informed about the benefits and risks to both their child and the broader community associated with these decisions. Consider referral to a health professional whose scope of practice includes vaccinations to address patient questions or concerns.
What that really means in practice, I fear, might be summarized like this: If parents ask for advice or information about childhood vaccinations, explain that they are dangerous, and that even D. D. Palmer recognized as early as 1894 that vaccination is ‘…the monstrous delusion … fastened on us by the medical profession, enforced by the state boards, and supported by the mass of unthinking people …’
Altogether, the ‘Clinical Practice Guideline for Best Practice Management of Pediatric Patients by Chiropractors’ is a thoroughly disreputable document. It was constructed in the way all charlatans tend to construct their consensus documents:
- convene a few people who are all in favour of a certain motion,
- discuss the motion,
- agree with it,
- write up the process
- publish your paper in a third class journal,
- boast that there is a consensus,
- stress that the motion must thereefore be ethical, correct and valuable.
Do chiropractors know that, using this methodology, the ‘flat earth society’ can easily pass a consensus that the earth is indeed flat?
I am sure they do!