March 22, 2008

A Chiropractic Reaction

And here's another thing about chiropractic which annoys me.

I drew your attention to an article on about the risk of stroke following neck adjustment. The reaction from a chiropractic supporter is "Horse Hockey."

This cuts to the heart of the problem.

The woman in the story who was not warned of the danger that her neck adjustment placed on her. She was only given a vague "some people have a bad reaction" line of bullshit. Is "stroke" too technical a medical term for the general public to understand? No, this chiropractor was following a typical pattern of bullshit which pads his wallet while other people are taking a dangerous and sometimes catastrophic risk. The woman in the story is one of the people who paid the price, both literally and figuratively. This chiropractor is living in denial and all too willing to invite his customers into that world.

Denial, swift and absolute, even when it is couched in a folksy phrase (ironically known for its utterance by a main character on M.A.S.H - a show where actors, instead of chiropractors, play doctors) is chiropractic's disease of the mind. On an individual level it denies chiropractic customers accurate information with which to assess their risk. On a community level it permits things like a chiropractic theory of disease to survive within their ranks. It allows them to avoid the rigor of scientific methods.

In this abstract from the Canadian Stroke Consortium, you can find the following quotation:

Collaboration with our chiropractic colleagues is crucial to understanding and resolving the association between sudden neck movement and stroke. Blanket denial or distortion of our data from various quarters can only delay discovery of the necessary facts at the expense of the well-being of patients.

But, of course, the longer such research is delayed, the longer chiropractors can usher a credulous public through their doors to receive another risky neck-cracking.

"Horse hockey?" Introspection is not a virtue of chiropractic. Because sometimes the cure kills the cash cow.

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Posted by James at March 22, 2008 1:17 PM
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I have a healthy paranoia about the bones in my neck and back, especially since the car accident. The hospital never xrayed my neck, back or head - just my clavicle (broken and sitting inches apart). Have I had neck and back pain since? Yes. will I see a chiro like everyone tells me to? Hells no. they scare me and I feel they'd make a minor situation much worse.

Posted by: leslie at March 22, 2008 2:14 PM

I go with gut reaction. I use many natural remedies, have done acupuncture, etc. But anyone messing with my spine gives me the heebity bejeebies. I think the heebity bejeebies are a natural reaction that tells me to stay away. I know some people love them. Well, I love a nice therapeutic massage and that doesn't make the bones that hold me up make noises that they shouldn't ever make.

Posted by: pippa at March 22, 2008 3:25 PM

A massage is a wonderful thing. Since massage does not have a history of claiming it can cure polio and discouraging people from getting vaccinated, I have no problems with it.

Posted by: James at March 22, 2008 3:28 PM

The risk of stroke following cervical manipulation is extraorinarily low, about 1:3,000,000. However, a point this woman refuses to admit, is that there is ample evidence that those who suffer from a stroke following cervical manipulation already have significant damage to the vertebral artery that dissects. They typically present with the symptoms of the stroke in the first place. An extensive study at the University of Calgary revealed that a chiropractic manipulation produces only 1/9th the amount of force needed to damage healthy arterial tissue. Also, ironically the majority (over 75%) of all strokes following physical procedures of the cervical spine actually occured in physical therapy and osteopathy practices. Why not alert the world of those dangers? Chiropractic is a very safe and very effective and is the target of an organized slander campaign.

Posted by: DrMike at March 22, 2008 8:56 PM

Let me see if I have this right: a client "presents with the symptoms of the stroke in the first place," but instead of having her rushed to the hospital, the chiropractor performs a cervical manipulation. Then the patient dies, and it's someone else's fault?

Posted by: Julie at March 22, 2008 10:50 PM

Didn't you know you could treat stroke with a spinal adjustment? It's all in the subluxations.

Posted by: James at March 22, 2008 10:58 PM

Well, that's the magic of chiropractic. It performs medical miracles, except when there's an actual medical problem.

Posted by: Julie at March 22, 2008 11:29 PM

The risk of heebity-jeebies when contemplating chiropractic manipulation is actually quite high, about 3:4.

The other 1:4 were unable to respond because they were undergoing tests on the mothership or busy having their palms read.

Posted by: Maggie at March 23, 2008 8:39 AM

All the comments and articles posted here come after the study in Canada that people had the exact same rate of stroke after going to the hospital complaining of neck pain and headache after going to a chiropractor.

That means that the headache and neck pain in those people were signs of an ALREADY OCCURRING STROKE that is not detectable by current medical diagnosis.

It is so much baloney that the negative preachers just hang their hats on. Check Yamada MD and Breig MD and many others for the other side of the story.

Dr. Jutkowitz

Posted by: Dr. Jutkowitz at March 23, 2008 9:02 AM

Dr. J., still not providing your reference.

Here's one:
Rothwell, Deanna M. [Reprint author]; Bondy, Susan J. [Author]; Williams, J. Ivan [Author; E-mail:]. Chiropractic manipulation and stroke: A population-based case-control study [Article] Stroke. 32(5). May, 2001. 1054-1060.

And here's a quote from the abstract:
Results for those aged less than 45 years showed VBA cases to be 5 times more likely than controls to have visited a chiropractor within 1 week of the VBA.

I'd have to go through inter-library loan to read the whole article. Maybe Dr. J has read the whole article, since it's *his bloody field*, and would like to explain why it's invalid compared to the earlier study that he vaguely references.

Dr. J., an earlier study isn't somehow more valid than a later study -- is that the science they teach you in chiropractor school? Did you stop reading journals after you found an article that said what you like? Yikes.

Posted by: Maggie at March 23, 2008 9:26 AM

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