Date: Thu Aug 25 1994 23:28:00 Subj: Chiropractic Quackery Exerpts from +quot;A Consumer's

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Date: Thu Aug 25 1994 23:28:00 From: Jeff Welch Subj: Chiropractic Quackery Exerpts from "A Consumer's Guide to Alternative Medicine: A Close Look at Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Faith-Healing, and Other Unconventional Treatments", by Kurt Butler, edited by Stephen Barrett, Consumer Health Library, Prometheus Books, NY, 1992: ----------------------------------------------------------------- For nearly a hundred years chiropractors have insisted that spinal misalignments can cause and/or aggravate a wide assortment of diseases by impinging on nerves as the exit the spine. According to chiropractic theory, this impedes the flow of "vital energy" (often called "Innate Intelligence") to organs and tissues throughout the body. However, instead of doing scientific studies to test beliefs like these, chiropractors have relentlessly waged what Consumer Reports has called a "war with science." (Consumer Reports, 1975) Thanks to victories in legislatures and courts, their number, priviliges, and income continue to grow, even thouugh their underlying theory has been thoroughly discredited. (Crelin, E. "A Scientific Test of the Chiropractic Theory", American Scientist, 1973) The medical profession, concerned about chiropractic's dangers, shunned chiropractors and did its best to educate legislators and the public about chiropractic's absurdities and dangers. But intense lobbying enabled chiropractors to become licensed as independent practitioners in every state, gain inclusion under Medicare and many other insurance programs, and achieve the freedom to shower the public inappropriately with x-rays. There is no evidence that subluxations as defined by chiropractors exist, or have any clinical significance, or that chiropractors can agree on what x-ray features signify a subluxation. Yet Medicare covers chiropractic patients only for treatment of "subluxations demonstrated by x-rays to exist." The x-ray in the hands of some chiropractors is like a horoscope in the hands of an astrologer. But at least astrologers don't dose clients with radiation. As with astrology, chiropractic has established no scientific standards. There is a wide range of philosophy, theory, and practice. Some believe that their professional role is to detect what they call "subluxations" and to adjust and correct them. Even spinal adjustment techniques vary widely. There are dozens of different methods, none of which has been scientifically validated or proven better or worse than the rest. Despite wide variations, most chiropractors adhere to the following false tenets: 1. The human spine is subject to frequent and significant misalignments ("subluxations") from a wide variety of causes, including practically all simple daily activities. Even malnutrition, air pollution, cigarette smoking, and pesticides in food can aggravate subluxations. 2. Subluxations interfere with the normal flow of "nerve energy". This causes or aggravates malfunction of the organs and tissues that they supply, and can cause disease and death. 3. Spinal manipulations ("adjustments") can fix misalignments, thereby normalizing the flow of nerve energy and restoring normal nerve function and normal organ and tissue function. 4. Chiropactors have a unique ability to diagnose and correct spinal subluxations. These lesions can cause or aggravate no only pain but practically every health problem known to humans. Among those specified in widely distributed pamphlets and books are heart disease, cancer, asthma, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, hyperactivity, sinusitis, colds, and emotional, neurological, gastrointestinal, and skin disorders. Chiropractic resembles religion more than science. Many chiropractors believe in a force or power they call Innate Intelligence. It is, they say, unmeasurable, but chiropractors are nevertheless certain that their manipulations and adjustments facilitate its flow and thereby enhance health. Chiroprators don't even know whether their manipulations increase or decrease impulses in the nerves they claim to be helping. Dogma would seem to dictate that adjustments always increase impulses, since the purpose is to free up blockages. But in cases in which manipulations do appear to reduce chronic pain, impulses may be reduced, not increased. In 1976, Chester Wilk and four other D.C.'s charged that the American Medical Association (AMA) and more than a dozen other organizations had violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by trying to eliminate their profession. In 1981, a jury sided with the AMA, but an appeals court overturned the decision on procedural grounds. Under antitrust law, it turned out, scientific truth had little relevance. In 1987, federal judge Susan Getzendanner ruled that the AMA had engaged in an illegal boycott. Although she concluded that the dominant reason for the AMA's antichiropractic campaign was the belief that chiropractic was not in the best interest of patients, she ruled that the AMA had gone too far. Chiropractors trumpet the case as an endorsement of their methods. But it was not. Close reading of the judge's opinion shows she had little regard for chiropractic itself. She noted, for example, that during the 1960's "there was a lot of material available to the AMA Committee on Quackery that supported its belief that all chiropractic was unscientific and deleterious." In a dubious exercise of judicial logic, she ruled that chiropractic's shorcomings did not justify attempting to contain and eliminate an entire licensed profession without first demonstrating that a less restrictive campaign could not succeed in protecting the public. The Court of Appeals said, "Neither the district court, nor this court is equipped to determine whether chiropractic is scientific or not." In other words, the defendents (AMA) were deprived of their main defense because the judges refused to judge the merits of their argument. Our society may pay dearly for the courts' self-imposed scientific illiteracy. Moreover, other dubious healers may be free to follow in the chiropractors footsteps. For example, if state legislatures legitimize astrological medicine because of pressures from local astrologers, antitrust laws could make it difficult for medical organizations to prevent astrologers from participating in insurance programs and gaining hospital privileges. This is essentially what happened with chiropractic.


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