Chiropractic Myth – Is Chiropractic a Waste of Your Money?

Post Series: Chiro-Myths

Wow…. This video from Tech Insider, bashing chiropractic, is a real treat. When you enjoy debunking myths about chiropractic and chiropractors it really makes it easy when they plop something like this at your feet. The original video features Dr. Steve Novella of Yale University doing his best to take some good swipes at the chiropractic profession.

Who the heck is Dr. Steven Novella Anyway?

A little bit about “Dr. Steve” (surely this is what he would go by if he were a chiropractor). Dr. Steve’s Yale University gig is actually as an Associate Professor. He is a neuroscientist and a bit of a celebrity skeptic spending much of his time working on podcasts and making appearances in various media venues dropping the science hammer on unsuspecting victims. Much of his focus is on witch hunts over acupuncture, supplements and even chiropractic while “evidenced-based” main stream medicine continues to rack up an impressive body count. Time well spent.

Oh and his other passion is Live Action Role Playing (LARPing). No… I’m not kidding. He is a Dungeons and Dragon’s aficionado (Listen to this Skepticality podcast interview starting at 50:35).

Live Action Role Playing (LARPing)

Chiropractic Myth – Chiropractors Do Whatever they Want

His claim in the original video is that chiropractors “essentially do whatever they want”. That’s a very dubious claim and it is in fact, false. Chiropractors have limited scope of practice and by comparison, medical doctors have a virtually unlimited scope of practice. Here is an example: As a chiropractor I cannot prescribe medications to my patients. This is because I have very little education in pharmaceuticals. On the other hand a medical doctor can perform a spinal manipulation regardless of their level of training. So which of us is doing “whatever” they want? It’s not chiropractors. There is a blanket assumption that medical doctors have adequate training and knowledge to perform just about any therapeutic procedure known to man. They are the only healthcare profession that is so blessed, whether it is deserved or not.

Chiropractic Myth – Chiropractors are Unregulated

He also claims that chiropractors are unregulated. Also completely false. Every state has licensing boards that regulate chiropractic practice. These boards exist to protect the public from chiropractors who may cause harm either through treatments or false information. I am currently the president of the Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners and have served on this board for the past 3 years. It is comprised of 5 chiropractors and two public members. We routinely meet to review specific case files and consider the rules and regulations for chiropractic practice in our state. Every state has a board like this. The Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards is a cooperative council of state licensing boards that shares best practices and helps each state to develop the most effective regulatory bodies for the safety of the citizens they serve.

In addition, chiropractic education has oversight from the Council on Chiropractic Education which is the accrediting body of chiropractic colleges in the US. The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners oversees and administers the standardized testing that is required of all chiropractic physicians.

So the idea that chiropractors gallivant throughout the land doing and saying whatever we want is patently false. Maybe false statements made by self-proclaimed skeptics would be a great idea for a future podcast, Dr. Steve.

Chiropractic Myth – Chiropractic is Based on Magic

He throws shade at the origins of chiropractic which is a very young healing art when compared to others such as acupuncture and allopathic medicine. It seems a little unfair to judge the current state of the profession by ideas that were formed before we had the benefit or understanding things like germ theory or other important scientific discoveries. Western medicine has equally ridiculous roots. Bloodletting, heroic medicine, mercury treatments, horrific mutilating surgeries, lobotomy, and many other failed ideas are proof that we haven’t always had a firm grasp on what exactly we were doing when it comes to health care. The difference is that while chiropractic’s history may seem like Harry Potter, allopathic medicine’s history looks more like American Horror Story. 

You will be hard pressed to find a chiropractor out there who adheres to D.D. Palmer’s original concept that all human disease and suffering is caused by dysfunction, or subluxation, of the spine. There are still vitalistic elements of the profession but they are a minority in chiropractic. Increasingly, chiropractic is emerging into an evidence informed body of practitioners who are working side-by-side with other health care practitioners, including medical doctors, in integrated settings.

What about the future?

What will happen 50 years down the road when skeptics look back at our time and sees our ridiculous pill-for-every-ill medical culture that routinely poisons people on a daily basis? Will we be disgusted at the millions of lives it cost? Will we wonder why the skeptics of our day wasted so much time going after low risk treatments such as chiropractic, acupuncture, supplements, etc. instead?

Given Dr. Steve’s love of LARPing and all things Dungeons & Dragons, I think it’s so ironic he calls chiropractic magic. I guess he is an authority on magic after all. Magic is a term that is typically reserved to describe something that we can’t readily describe that produces an astonishing result. So for chiropractic to qualify as magic, the results must be fantastic. You may notice that he is careful to never discuss the results that chiropractors get with regards to some of the main conditions we treat such as low back pain, headaches, sports injuries, disc injuries, etc. It would really weaken his position. As I have read through comments made on social media about this video, a common thing I’ve seen is dozens and dozens of testimonials from satisfied patients. And there’s the rub… while Dr. Steve is working his way up to being a level 40 elf-mage, skeptic and attempting to slay the chiropractic dragon, people are receiving the benefits of the therapy every day. That’s hard to argue with. In fact, most of the people who benefit from chiropractic care today have never heard of D.D. Palmer, nor could they care less about his ideas about the cause of disease.

I hope you enjoy the video. Please leave your comments below and share this video with your friends.




-Dr. Young

[vc_separator color=”grey” style=”dotted”]

Perhaps one of the worst parts of this video is the fact that Dr. Steve has created a straw man argument. Chiropractors today cannot ethically say that adjustments heal everything. I certainly don’t think that. There are specific conditions and problems where chiropractic can be very helpful. That’s not just my opinion. That is science. Not even pseudoscience, but ACTUAL SCIENCE!!! I mean, thanks for all of the attention Dr. Steve but really… who are you arguing with? I have never had a patient who left with the impression that I was going to adjust away all of their problems. The vast majority of the profession has move on from that; you should too.

Massage Therapy

At Body of Health Chiropractic & Wellness Center, in Corvallis, OR, we practice evidence-based and science informed chiropractic care. The results are great. Our patients have rated us as one of the best clinics in the Corvallis area. Our treatments aren’t limited to just chiropractic adjustment and spinal manipulation. We also have fantastic licensed massage therapists, nutrition counseling and coaching, and functional medicine. If you are looking for a more personal experience than the typical hospital culture give us a call and let us work for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *