I was wandering around the Eden Prairie Mall (Eden Prairie, MN) yesterday and was floored to see this advertisement for chiropractic at one of the mall kiosks.
Subtle message, eh? If you don’t get chiropractic, you could die! Who cares that you can’t afford it, that you don’t believe believe in chiro, and (I love this one) that you don’t have any pain or symptoms! Are you going risk making a widow or widower of your spouse and orphans of your children, just to save a little money or to feel self-righteous because you scoff at chiro? You greedy, self-centered bastard.
Let me say this…
I have benefited from chiropractic. Several years ago I bent at the waist to pick something up from the ground. As I straightened up I felt a “pop” and acute pain in my lower back. The urgent care doc told me to alternate ice and warmth on the area and to take it easy. Two more days of discomfort landed me in a chiropractor’s office on a friend’s advice. After taking a patient history and performing a full body examination (which cost me $250), the chiropractor straddled one of my thighs and applied a quick twist to my pelvic/lower back region (pardon the vagueness – it’s been over five years since the experience), and I had IMMEDIATE relief from the pain and increased flexibility. I jaunted out of the office, a total convert to chiropractic treatment.
I set three “follow-up” appointments with the chiro doc, and thus started my deconversion therapy. Or perhaps my disillusionment therapy. The first appointment was what I expected – the doc asked me how my lower back was feeling, and did a few quick cracks to that area. While I was there she also recommended doing some adjustments on my right wrist, right shoulder and my thoracic vertebrae, as my job required a fair amount of repetitive arm and hand motions. To this day I don’t know if she felt something wonky with those areas (I hadn’t been experiencing any pain, tightness, etc.) or if she was attempting to do preventative care.
During the second visit she wanted to take a “bioelectrical measurement”. It was a free assessment, so I let her tape a bunch of electrodes to seemingly random places all over my body. I asked about the positioning of the electrodes and she said they were spaced at regular intervals so that she could get a reading on my entire body. Umm… ‘k. The results were wishy-washy – I needed more iron in my diet, I needed to lose weight. I asked what the system was measuring and how it could tell that I needed to lose weight and get more iron in my diet, and she said something about electrical current and my body’s ability to impede … I didn’t understand what she was telling me, but I remember that it sounded like *cough* bullshit! *cough*. It made me uneasy.
But this was before I had done my research on chiro, before I had started skeptically examining alternative medicine practices. So I shrugged off my unease and went back.
Visit numero three: After performing an adjustment on my lower back, she introduced the idea of applied kinesiology, which I thought sounded fascinating! I held up one of my arms and she placed a series of bottles on my chest. As she switched out the bottles she pressed against my arm. On several bottles she couldn’t move my arm, and on others she barely touched me and my arm pushed down to the table. She then repeated the study on my right leg. Based on her findings, my “extremely weak muscle reactions” indicated that I needed to take a combination of vitamins, which her office sold for the low, low price of $60/month. This FINALLY trigged the warning bells in my head. *facepalm* Not because I understood how the AK scam/delusion worked, but because I was pretty sure she needed my $60/month more than I needed her silly vitamins.
I declined the vitamins and didn’t make any more appointments before leaving the office. But I didn’t complain to any board or committee about what I felt were iffy practices; I told myself that it wasn’t for me, but maybe it helped other people feel better. After all, she was a trained doctor, and that had to count for something, right? Right?
Since then I’ve learned a bit about the placebo and ideomotor effects, as well as the claims surrounding bioelectrical impedance analysis, applied kinesiology, the ability of chiro to cure or lessen the effects of allergies, pediatric chiropractic and the effect of subluxations on metabolism, behavior disorders, “toxins” in the body – all of which this woman’s practice addressed when I was a patient.
Thus my BS meter is calibrated a little high when it comes to chiropractic care, so seeing this “Chiro or Die!” poster in the mall annoyed me. Joint manipulation may be appropriate in some cases, but if I should ever consider seeking chiro in the future, I’ll be avoiding this place.