Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The elusive chiropractic "subluxation"

The following is written by a chiropractor who has discovered what a scam he has been involved in:

I have great memories of the first time I experienced "subluxation diagnosis" at Life University.

I was a wide-eyed, idealistic chiro convert in first quarter. I went to some club (maybe Mo-Pal?) and some upper quarter student "analyzed" me.

I had just gotten adjusted that afternoon by my field doc and I thought he was going to be impressed by how I was subluxation-free. (At that time, I thought that subluxations were real, verifiable, etc.)

He was pleased to tell me that he had found many, many subluxations in my spine. I was horrified. What had my field doc been doing for two years? Don't worry, the upper quarter student said, everyone has subluxations all the time, it's normal.

Huh? I was so confused. How could everyone have subluxations all the time? We're they silently dying from these Killer Subluxations?

Next, I went to Full Spine club. I was finally going to find out a little about the complex, scientific analysis that chiros used to find subluxations. But when I got there, it was basically just a bunch of people who would find a few muscle spasms and then CRACK ! I asked them, in panic, how they were sure that areas of muscle tightness were really subluxations. Their answer: Oh sure, they're probably subluxations. Muscle spams are a component of Vertebral Subluxation Complex.

At that time, I still thought subluxations were REAL FINDINGS and didn't realize they were a dime a dozen and every chiropractor could find different listings on the same exact patient.

The funniest thing I ever remember was in some class (maybe Thompson or Activator) where the teacher was telling us to adjust based on a leg check. I remember some student asking, "But what if the X-RAY LISTINGS are different than the leg check?"

I just had to laugh. At that time, I still believed in chiropractic but knew that most chiros didn't use the x-rays for anything except a patient scare tactic. Not only that, but x-ray listings were bogus due to x-ray distortion, spinal asssymetry, among a million other things. Worse, chiropractic adjustments do not change x-rays listings.

So, I, even still a chiro believer, just had to laugh. How could my classmate in 9th or 10th quarter still actually believe that Gonstead style x-rays listings were valid or important? How could he actually believe, after all the contradictions we'd seen, that subluxations were real and not just one particular doctor's imagination (vs. another doctor's imagination)? It was like a 20 year old who still believed in the Easter Bunny.

It always amazes me that students can't see the obvious when they look at all the contradictory techniques and analysis system. The reason that practically anybody can invent their own technique system is because you are dealing with a mythological entity. That's why any New Age guru can invent their own "healing energy" system.

You say atlas is out, he says sacrum is the primary. Who cares? Let's all be friends. No one really BELIEVES in this junk anyway, right? Let's just jump through the hoops so we can get out there and pay back these loans!


For more of an understanding of the inner workings of chiropractic, read Chirotalk.

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