In several hundred cases patients have been seriously and often permanently damagedOne of my teachers in medical school kept saying: ‘A treatment that has no side-effects is already a good one.’ These seemed to be wise words worth remembering. But today I think he may have been not entirely correct: there is no therapy that does not have potential to cause adverse effects. What really counts, in life as in medicine, is a reasonable balance between risk and benefit.
Chiropractic treatment is an excellent example of the importance of this balance. Chiropractors rely heavily on manipulating their patients’ spines, and the benefits are not at all clear. Practitioners usually insist that their manipulations are effective for a bafflingly wide range of conditions. On the internet, for instance, it is hard to find an illness that chiropractors do not claim to cure. However, the published evidence generally reveals these claims to be little more than wishful thinking. Therefore, even relatively minor side-effects might tilt the risk/benefit balance into the negative.
There is now a lot of evidence showing that more than half of all patients suffer mild to moderate adverse effects after seeing a chiropractor. These are mostly local and referred pains that usually last for two to three days. Chiropractors often claim that these are necessary steps on the road to getting better. On a good day, we might even believe them.
But unfortunately there is more, much more. Several hundred cases have been documented in which patients were seriously and often permanently damaged after chiropractic manipulations. The latest to hit the headlines was that of a 32-year-old woman from Jakarta who died after being treated by an American chiropractor. What usually happens in these tragic instances is that, upon manipulation of the upper spine, an artery supplying the brain is over-stretched and simply breaks up, leading to a stroke which can prove fatal.
Chiropractors do not like to hear any of this, and either claim that these are extremely rare events, or deny any connection with their manipulations. Regrettably, the hard evidence is not as solid as one would wish. In conventional medicine we have effective systems to monitor adverse effects of all interventions — not so in alternative medicine. Therefore, the true frequency of such tragedies is anyone’s guess. About 30 deaths after chiropractic have been documented in medical literature, but they are probably just the tip of a much bigger iceberg. We have shown, for instance, that in the UK the under-reporting of such instances is very close to 100 per cent.
Continue reading at: https://health.spectator.co.uk/the-evidence-shows-that-chiropractors-do-more-harm-than-good/