Tag Archives: research

Is Chiropractic Really Scientific?

The scientific method is the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

With Chiropractic we recognize a problem when you come into our office in pain, we collect data through observation, taking a history, and testing. We then form a hypothesis and call it a differential diagnosis. We apply treatments that have either worked in the past for similar conditions or we suspect will work based upon our knowledge and understanding of the human body. If treatment does not provide results we acknowledge the lack of results and re-assess our hypothesis, and present additional treatments or referral.

The question implies an additional question; is chiropractic backed by solid evidence? This is a harder question. Only between 10-20% of all medical treatments are actually supported by solid evidence, according to Dr. David Sackett founder of the Oxford Center for Evidence-Based Medicine. This isn’t to say that only 2 in 10 people get evidence based care. There are thousands of treatments out there, and only a hundred or so are commonly used. Dr. Sackett guessed that, more than 20%of all treatments rendered were based on evidence. But he was unable to say how much more.

A recent study on the same topic found:

“…When compared to the many other studies of similar design that have evaluated the extent to which different medical specialties are evidence based, chiropractic practice was found to have the highest proportion of care (68.3%) supported by good-quality experimental evidence.” (source)

Chiropractic is relatively new on the scene as an organized profession, and has had to battle it’s way into the mainstream. As a consequence of this, more studies have been done on chiropractic treatments than many of the common medical treatments for the same conditions.

“There are considerably more randomized controlled trials which show benefit of Chiropractic than there are for many, many other things which physicians and neurosurgeons do all the time.”—Paul G. Shekelle, M.D., M.P.H., of the RAND Corporation, interviewed on ABC’s 20/20

So… by this evidence, chiropractic could be considered to be the most scientific health care profession.

Scientific Studies Interpreted


Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics

Since the dawn of modern science answers to life’s questions have been sought through studies.  I highly recommend research and physicians using research to the advantage of their patients.  I encourage patients to stay informed through reading research.  In life, online, and even the media you hear things like, “oh it’s true, they’ve done studies.”  I’m not sure who “they” are and whatever study is being referred to probably didn’t mean what you thought it did.


American Chiropractic Association

Chiropractic, for good or bad, has been forced into research by the well-meaning movement of evidence based medicine.  This movement, as with most things, falls short when strictly applied to every scenario.  There are always too many exceptions.  One of the most well-known, and a great read, is a farcical review article discussing, “parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge.”  This article was actually published in the British Medical Journal in 2003.  It inferred that because there was no research studies to show the efficacy of parachute use that their use should be discontinued as a preventative health care measure.


Index to Chiropractic Literature

The truth is that most studies are either to vague or to specific or too something to be applied directly in real life situations.  They all have flaws and weaknesses.  Even the gold standard Double Blind Randomized Controlled Trial is not perfect.  Most of the good studies admit and disclose their bias so that readers can take that into consideration when determining usefulness.  If you don’t understand research bias don’t worry there are entire college courses dedicated to the topic, if you want to learn more you can begin here  Google results: research bias.

To make things simple for you, there is no perfect study because people are not perfect.   This principle becomes utterly clear in online debates that usually end in name calling and any truth lost to both parties.


The Chiropractic Resource Organization

I often cite research on my blog, and sometimes people agree and sometimes they disagree with the research.  You are welcome to do so.  I highly recommend reading research for truth.  The best RCT can be useless and the anectdotal single case study may hold the answer to the problem you face.  Don’t discount evidence of any kind.  Read it for truth and accept the research for what it is, one possible view of a whole situation.

How Chiropractic can Help ADD/ADHD

The video posted suggested that chiropractic may help people with ADD/ADHD, but it doesn’t say how.  In fact it only mentions it in passing after explaining some of the dangers of the drugs used to treat such conditions.  So here is a collection of some of the research.  A single study by Mississippi State University found that specific chiropractic treatment improved results in the majority of ADD/ADHD sufferers.  You can find that study here.  Of course more research is needed, but so far medication has only been shown to keep ADHD controlled, not cure it.  Chiropractic care has shown actual improvement without the risks of medication.

How does chiropractic treatment accomplish the improvement. Dr. Robert Melillo, a chiropractic neurologist said, “Motor activity—especially development of the postural muscles—is the baseline function of brain activity. Anything affecting postural muscles will influence brain development. Musculoskeletal imbalance will create imbalance of brain activity, and one part of the brain will develop faster than the other, and that’s what’s happening in ADHD patients.”  He also pointed out that “True ADHD patients have other signs — tics, tremors, balance or postural problems, or unusual sensitivity to touch, movement, sights, or sounds.”

Doctors of chiropractic and chiropractic neurologists don’t treat ADHD they treat dysfunction in the spine and body.  The brain is stimulated by this stimulation of weakened function through adjustments.  The body is aided in healing it’s self decreasing the imbalances.  So instead of filling the gap with drugs the body may become dependent on, the brain is able to develop where it was otherwise weak through stimulation caused by chiropractic adjustments.

While chiropractic may provide a good treatment for many suffering from these conditions mechanical stimulation is not the only answer and dietary or life changes should also be included in treatment.  Processed food containing food dyes, sugar, preservatives, additives, and pesticides or other chemicals should be avoided.  Elimination diets can be used to determine if there is a particular food that provokes negative responses in that person.  Food has a chemical effect on our bodies just like medication does.  Other life changes such as exercise and identifying learning patterns will also be beneficial.

Link Baiting Follow up

I was going to write today about what kind of people can have problems with Repetitive Stress/Strain Injuries (RSIs) but I was looking at my site data and noticed something interesting. It has been 7 days since my article on link baiting. It’s true that Search engine sites like Google or Yahoo won’t usually have picked up on a site in that short a period, but my data tracks daily results.

I’m going to draw a preliminary conclusion. Short of me using terms like celebrity, and chicken breast, which would undoubtedly draw the wrong kind of attention, link baiting doesn’t seem to work. In fact I got more views from every other post I’ve made shortly before and after. It seems the advice I was given, to just keep posting relevant information is the way to go. After all, the real purpose of this blog is to positively promote the successes I have seen and found with chiropractic, well and to promote www.drduncanchiropractic.com but you already knew that.

Tomorrow I’ll continue with the RSI series, and I have great news. The study that I’ve been wanting to do regarding the effects of chiropractic on the voice is going to happen. More on that when I get some documents ready.

Great News: Chiropractic isn’t likely to kill you!

For those of you who are familiar with chiropractic this headline may seem funny to you. There is a chunk of the population that is extremely worried about this though. In fact there is a company called, the Chiropractic Stroke Awareness Group. They are very worried that Chiropractic may kill you by causing a stroke. The good news is that it won’t.

Chiropractic has never been shown to cause stroke, though it has also never been definitively ruled out either. The plain fact is that it is so rare that it is nearly impossible to study enough to prove causality. However there have been recent studies that indicate that chiropractic may lower your risk for stroke by decreasing hypertension. “This procedure [Chiropractic manipulation of the Atlas] has the effect of not one, but two blood-pressure medications given in combination,” study leader George Bakris, MD, told WebMD. “And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems,” adds Bakris, director of the University of Chicago hypertension center. Full Article Here

To clarify, there are risks associated with chiropractic treatment. Those risks are less than the risk you take by taking a dose of Asprin, but they do exist. According to recent studies the risk of stroke following a chiropractic adjustment (not because of, but following) is 1 in 5.85 million. This study found that you are no more likely to suffer a stroke after visiting a chiropractor thatn you are after visiting your medical doctor. For perspective here is a comparative list:

Proven Possible Side Effects of…

Additional information and studies can be found here.