• Jason Ellis

Subluxation: A Chiropractic crock of shit!

Note: this was an on-going thread with a lot of amusing legacy comments.. Please read them too.. But also understand I have had to turn off future comments due to people being kind nasty.

Subluxation is a real medical term, it is an incomplete or partial dislocation (latin: luxatio) of a joint or an organ. As such if you have a subluxation, a dislocated joint or organ, you need to seek real medical attention.

Recently I hurt my neck – I don’t know exactly what I did, but whatever it was it hurts. I think I slept wrong on it and it has hurt for days. We have a sleep number bed and it slowly loses air over the course of a month or so, so if you don’t every once in a while bump it back up you end up sleeping on a really really soft (incorrect) bed. And since I’m no longer 12, any hurt I get seems to take a while to heal.

I have corrected the soft bed issue, but that doesn’t solve the immediate problem of the neck ache. Truth be told, the only thing that will really resolve it is time. Especially if its a pinched nerve or something like that.

However, I mentioned to my sister that I had this issue during one of our calls and she suggested that I seek the attention of a chiropractor. Now let me preface this by saying, I have always thought of chiropractors as charlatans. However, I fully realize that this opinion had previously been largely driven by the media, television, movies and other peoples opinions. No personal experiences. No real clue that they were snake oil pushers, just a preconceived notion that they were a bunch of slack jawed flim flam salesmen.

An orthopedic subluxation is a partial dislocation of a joint and as such is extremely bad and completely verifiable through image studies. Yet a chiropractic subluxation is some sort of theoretical problem that isn’t visible on any image study or remotely verifiable by any means other than seeing a chiropractor. Its bullshit. It’s complete bullshit. You know it and they know it too.

I realize that this isn’t fair of me at all and so when my sister suggested it, I figured.. what the hell.. I’m going to have an open mind about this, and give it a try. I’ve been wrong before, surely I can be wrong again. I wasn’t.. but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I shopped around a bit and went with a chiropractor located here in Austin sorta near my work. He has a very big practice, with a lot of people coming and going in a high traffic area off Anderson lane near one of my favorite Korean places. I walked in, made an appointment for the next day, and walked out. The office has a very professional atmosphere so I figured I had made a good choice.

I asked the receptionist roughly how much these things go for because I had never gone to a chiropractor before and had no Earthly clue. She told me that visits usually ran anywhere between $47 and $247. To which I said, “So, $247?” She chuckled and played off my joke. I mention that because it’s important later.

The next day came and I went to the appointment at 4:45. I got there early, and sat down filling out the “paperwork” which mostly consisted of questions like “Did you ever falldown and go boom as a child?” – “Were you ever abused as a child?” – “Did your parents spank you?” – etc.. A lot of questions dealing with my past, not really medical in nature but rather general questions about events that could possibly have left some sort of scaring or emotional trauma.

Frankly, I found most of the questions to be somewhat creepy, and not really related what so ever to the issue at hand. But, again trying to have an open mind .. I filled out the form.

I waited for a while, and eventually the receptionist introduced me to a female “doctor.” Who was very kind (everyone was pretty nice) and showed me the office. Once she was done with that she took me to an “exam room” and told me the doctor would be there soon.

Now, I use the term exam room really really lightly here.. It was a room with a computer, a scale and a model of the human spine. I’m not sure why they called it an exam room as nothing akin to an exam really took place. I mean the “doctor” stood me up and looked at me, had me stand in front of a mirror and proceeded to mumble about how much was wrong. “You see how one ear is clearly visible and the other isn’t.. that’s because you turn your head … a clear sign of subluxation.”


This was the root of all my evils, my clear signs of subluxation! They were pushing the subluxation problems left and right!

My ears aren’t even, thus I turn my head when I stand – a sign of subluxation. My shoulders aren’t even when I stand – a sign of subluxation. My hips clearly rotate! – a sign of subluxation. My right leg is shorter than my left leg – subluxation! When I stand on two scales, my weight isn’t perfectly distributed between them which means I’m shifting my weight because of… You guessed it.. Subluxation.

Realistically I think all of those things are a very clear sign that I’m a Human being, and as such not a perfectly synchronous creature.. but hey, I’m not a MD.. (Neither are they mind you..)

Between the two doctors, they actually said “subluxation” so much, the word started to lose meaning… er, not that it had much to begin with.

During this whole interview process, and lets be honest that’s exactly what it was, they were interviewing me to see if I’d be a good sucker. I went along with everything, thus they then switched to trying to convince me that I was in dire need of their services.

At the end of the little interview with the main doctor he kind of went over prices.. He basically said, “oh and uh, this is going to run normally about.. uh “.. doing mental calculation .. “lets see.. “ looking at the sky … carry the one … “ roughly 5 xrays at $40 each plus the $47 exam .. so that will be $247 dollars.”

He made a big show of not being sure of the price and having to “figure it out”.. What a douche.. I already knew the price, because of the little joke between me and the receptionist above. Hey what do you know, its exactly the amount she told me was the max.

This is where I got the “used car salesman” vibe from him, he just came off completely slimy. But golly a really swell guy. At this point everything is screaming scam.. I mean absolutely screaming.. But, in the interest of being open minded and really really wanting the neck pain to go away I continued on.

The main doctor went away. This would be the last time I saw him that day, and I had only seen him for maybe 15 minutes during the interview process when he was determining if he’d be able to bilk another sucker.

At this point they shuffled me off to a secondary examination room that had a special thermal machine which would give them some super secret special information about my back. In short, it measured the skin temperature of my spine.. They had me take my shirt off and rolled this gun looking thing with two wheels on either side of the nose, up my back and the results were… A squiggly line on the monitor. This was a very important test, and I’m sure it gave them loads of data! er.. or it gave them a squiggly line.. Not sure..

After the squiggly line test, I went and got my x-rays. I say I “went”.. I didn’t actually go anywhere but into the next room where the female doctor sat me down every which way in front of a very old x-ray machine and took some pictures.

This seemed all wrong. I asked her, “are you licensed to run this machine?”, I got no answer so I asked; “are you an x-ray tech or something?” to which she replied “No. I’m a doctor.”

I asked, “A medical doctor?” to which she said “No, I’m a chiropractic doctor.. I went to school for eight years.”

uh.. okay. Well, I mean I don’t know better.. I assume that means she’s qualified.. She seems to think she is and she seems to sorta know what she’s doing. The equipment seemed old, and I wasn’t given any kind of lead apron protection but who knows if that even does anything.. Either way it still seemed kinda iffy to me.

The other thing was the x-ray “gun” was pointed directly at the wall, which means it was right at the Korean restuarant next door. That wall isn’t very thick. The room didn’t seem like a special room or anything.. it just seemed like a regular room that they put an x-ray machine in. I mean I don’t know Texas law on this but that really doesn’t seem right. Surely there must be some kind of radiographer certificate that is required by the operator, and more over some sort of license for the machine and the room itself.

Once the x-rays were taken the female doctor explained to me that the doctor would need to “go over the x-rays and study them to see if they can help me.” I sort of assumed this would take a few minutes and then the doctor would come in and talk to me further.

No. No, no you poor fool. No this takes many many hours, and “they wouldn’t be able to get to it today.” She sent me to the receptionist who then proceeded to ask for payment.

Wait.. Nothings been done and my neck still hurts.. At this point I had 15 minutes of forms, followed by a maybe-20 minute (at most) chat with the doctor, followed by a 2 minute back roll squiggly line test, followed by probably 30 minutes of x-rays. No “adjustments”.. No explanations of whats wrong.. nothing. Just a thanks, see ya.. pay up front.

The receptionist collected the $247, and made my next appointment where they would go over the results of my x-rays and “all the other tests”(?!) – A WEEK LATER.

I paid. I left. I was still in pain. I was pissed.

What the hell did I just pay for?! Because what I got was a 5 won plane ride.. (that’s a Korean saying.. it means I was just taken for a ride or I was rolled.. or I was screwed)

I expected a little more.. hell, I expected anything.. I got bubkiss. Fine.. I went home, still hurting.

At this point I’m starting to do research and have seen a lot of different sites and people say that chiropractors are fakes. And any chiropractor that uses “subluxation” is a complete sham artist. I’m not getting a good vibe at all from everything I’m reading.

What shocks me is the number of folks that were coming in and out of this place. I mean it was stocked to the gills with happy people.. I’ve been there 3 times now, the appointment, the initial visit and the visit I’m about to talk about, and each time there were 10 to 20 people in and out getting stuff done. This place does a lot of business.

That alone made me think, that there must be SOMETHING to this. I mean this many people can’t all be complete suckers.. Surely they aren’t all dolts. There were business professionals in suits coming in and getting “adjustments”.. Mothers and fathers with kids, students, athletes.. surely they can’t all be idiots falling for some sucker trick.

Clearly I’m just letting my biases get to me.

So fine. I will wait and go to the next appointment. I seriously thought it was just me and that I was being silly..

The problem being, they did nothing to address my immediate problem. I still have neck pain. The next day, I mentioned my experience to some folks I work with and one of them suggested going to a massage place here in town. I jumped at it. Hell, it had to be better than what I had done so far.

I went and got a massage from Susan Parker the lead massage therapist at Massage Envy. It was great! At one point she did tug on my neck a little which did hurt, but I know she was trying to help and when I said ouchies, she stopped and was apologetic about it. A good massage. I will go back and would recommend her. (Though, warning; Do NOT say “You can push harder, you wont hurt me.” Dear god don’t say that.. ever.. )

Right before my massage, I was called by the chiropractor and told that the doctor wanted to see me. He had an opening at 3, and wanted me to come by. This was a little worrying, I mean usually if the doctor wants to see you as soon as you have a chance, you have something wrong with you and he has nothing but bad news.

That was my first thought, then I realized that my experiences up to now had pretty much proved that he would do whatever it took to try to play on my fears.. thus this fits right in. Almost had me there. But I assuaged my fears by telling myself, this guy is still trying to play me. Sure enough, I was right.

After Susan finished massaging me.. =) (she really was very nice.) I went to the chiropractors office. I felt pretty good and figured that everything would be much easier for the chiropractor since I was nice and limber. I sat in the little waiting area for probably 20 minutes, then was called over to the table.

I laid down, the chiropractor came over and told me that he took a look at my x-ray and saw a major subluxation in my neck and that he bets that I was in pain. Never mind that I told him exactly that the day before.

I said that yes my neck is still sore. He then tried to play on my fears by saying that we’ll we have to fix that subluxation because Christopher Reeve’s neck injury was in the same location. Mind you I haven’t ridden a horse in 25 years, but okay.. fine.

This more than annoyed me by the way, I actually was somewhat offended though I don’t know why. I mean I don’t know what kind of traction he was hoping to get with me here but he didn’t need to bring “Superman” into it. I have nothing but the deepest respect for Christopher Reeve and his family, I felt this was a slight. I can’t actually put my finger on why though..

Anyway, he still hasn’t gone over my x-rays, or the squiggly line test with me. In fact, he hasn’t talked much to me at all other than to make sure I was still on the hook and to attempt to play on my fears..

He laid me down and “examined” my legs and pointed out that I clearly had some subluxtion as my right leg was shorter than my left, due to my drastic back misalignment. He then rolled me on my side and proceeded to position me using this table and headrest jig that I can only describe as being some form of torture device.

I mean my head was forced top down at an odd angle and my neck was exposed up and in a very unnatural position while on my side. He then started poking and prodding my neck, and for the briefest of moments I think I knew what it felt to like to be Marie Antoinette just before they pulled the leaver.. It was extremely uncomfortable, and I felt very exposed.

He then pulled out a device that he did name, but I forget what it was called.. So I can only call it the “thumper”. It sorta looks like a hot glue gun, but has a little rubber extention where the glue would come out. And when you pull the trigger it goes thump. Extremely lightly.

He proceeded to explain that this device will help to realign my spine. I’m dubious.

Before he began he jammed his fingers into the center of my back and asked, does that hurt? Dear god yes it hurt – it felt like he just stabbed me with a hunk of steel. So I said, yes that hurts. He kind of mumbles “mm yeah.. subluxation..”…

Then he applies his thumper. This thing hit about as hard as you could if you were to flick something with your finger.. I mean it did virtually nothing. He would push it fairly firmly into the side of my exposed neck and then pull the trigger.. thump He did this 4 or 5 times.. then moved it a tad, and thumped a few more times..

At the end he put it down, and touched the center of my back in a way that I can only describe as a gentle caress and said, “I bet that doesn’t hurt as much now that I’ve corrected your neck.” — Well.. Yeah.. you’re not pressing as hard ya doofus.

He then goes down to my feet and says “Hey your feet are now aligned perfectly. “

Do I really come across as this stupid? OH my god you’ve healed me! er wait.. No, my neck still fucking hurts..

He then said he was done. He proceeded to explain that I’d notice the changes very little in the beginning but would notice it more over time – say 6 to 9 weeks worth of treatments. “Thats how long these things take.” Thanks for coming. See ya next time.

Time spent: 40 minutes? Maybe? And that includes the 20 minutes I waited in the waiting area.

Still haven’t gone over the x-rays, the squiggly line test or even talked to me really. They ushered me up to the front, demanded another $47 and sent me on my way. This time I have no appointment for the next “treatment”.. er.. “adjustment”.. er.. what do I call this?! The receptionist just said, “the doctor will call you.”

So I’m done with this fucker.. This whole thing is a crock of shit. In the 6 to 9 weeks that he is performing his “healing” my body will likely heal itself. Something I’m sure he’ll be happy to take credit for.

I think I’ve been pretty open minded and fair. At every turn when my bullshit meter was screaming at me, I silenced it and just went on. I’m a software engineer for IBM and I was an intelligence analyst in the military – I think I’m a fairly intelligent guy who can see patterns and can validly call shenanigans when I see them.

This guy is a complete sham. Which means that chiropractors everywhere are likely a complete scam. I wanted to believe otherwise, I was trying .. I had an open mind.. Bullshit.. This whole thing is a lie.. If this is what chiropractors do then they are a bunch of ballwashin bastards..

I really got the sense that this chiropractic thing is something that if you don’t believe in it, it wont work. THAT’S NOT MEDICINE! I can not believe in penicillin, and the shit will still work – because that’s what medicine is. Your beliefs don’t enter into it.

At this place I seriously expected someone to walk in with a big pair of magnets and start “adjusting my chi!”

It’s like he’s selling good feelings.. Come in, I’ll make you feel better by paying some attention to you – which he didn’t even do.

It really pisses me off that in the United States people can lie, and sell you snake oil and there is no law against it. It should be illegal. But the simple fact is, if someone plays on your fears or desires and bilks you out of money you’re just out that money.

At this point I’m not sure what to do. I’m going to go in and get my x-rays at the very least. They can’t charge me for those since I have already paid for them. I feel like I need to talk to a lawyer. I mean at this point I feel like I have been completely taken advantage of.. He was playing on the fact that I was in pain, and doing everything in his slimy power to play on that pain..

What complete vermin. I can only assume he is also doing the same thing to everyone else that goes in there. “Treating them” and giving them “adjustments”. Preying on those who don’t know better or those who can’t see whats going on. They perceive that they are getting better because of his trickery and thus they think they are, when in reality the only thing happening is maybe a mild placebo effect and that time is doing all the work.

Chiropractors aren’t medical doctors. It’s amusing to me that the American Chiropractic Association says “education requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions”.. What?! Short of maybe.. I dunno.. REAL Doctors.. And any medical profession that has to say how “stringent” their educational requirements are is clearly full of shit. What medical profession has had to try to convince people that their eduction requirements are stringent? None!

I looked into it and to be a “Dr. soandso D.C.” you don’t even need a 4 year degree. The Council on Chiropractic Education sets the minimum guidelines for chiropractic colleges and the minimum prerequisite for enrollment as 90 semester hours, and a 2.50 GPA. Hell, I could be a chiropractor.. Oh except my parents were married, and I wouldn’t sully my name by being one.

In the mean time, I’m out $300 and my neck still hurts.


Legacy Comments

These are old comments from wordpress days that I wanted to save since they are relevant, however due to the negativity of some I have disabled all future comments

Jason - January 25th, 2008 at 1:43 PM

Addendum; I’m willing to concede that there are likely some chiropractors that aren’t complete fakes. But the methods they employ MUST be radically different than the ones I have seen so far.

Stephen Barrett, MD - January 25th, 2008 at 2:35 PM

What happened to you is quite common. The leg-length/subluxation hoopla is part of “Activator Methods,” which we describe at

Calvin - January 25th, 2008 at 4:30 PM

“It really pisses me off that in the United States people can lie, and sell you snake oil and there is no law against it. It should be illegal. But the simple fact is, if someone plays on your fears or desires and bilks you out of money you’re just out that money.”

Generally we refer to these people as politicians. I think we’re used to this type of treatment in the political arena and we’ve pretty much come to expect it. When this comes at us from the medical arena it sort of disturbs the sensibilities. I mean this isn’t the 19th century any more. But hey at least he didn’t sell you a bottle of heroin or prescribe trepanation.

userandabuser - March 5th, 2008 at 1:52 PM

my name is Nick, and my girlfriend is going through the same exact thing here in port st. lucie,fla. Just as you said “as soon as I entered the office my bullshit meter skyrockets and my spider sences are telling me to get out of there quick.” but my girlfriends parents are paying for the “treatments” so its my job to stay with my girl while he hits her with the clickie thing. so long story short, I’ve been to this office several times and it has very thin walls and one can hear into the next room quite well, and as far as I can tell everyone in this office has the same problem because everyone gets the same exact treatment. I got the one leg is shorter explination also and like you said my girls back still hurts after months of treatments and she has even developed new problems but hey one leg is shorter than the other right?

Jason - March 5th, 2008 at 3:06 PM

Nick, get out while you can. The problem here is that the illusion of care that this “doctor” is giving does nothing. And your girl friend could actually be hurt or in danger.

Take her to a real doctor before whatever the problem is, gets worse.

~M~ - April 2nd, 2008 at 7:46 AM

Hi Jason! I have just recently falling into this same situation and have been deciding what my best move is. I am wondering did u ever see a MD? What did they do for you & how is your neck feeling now? Thanks so much!! ~M~

Jason - April 16th, 2008 at 9:20 PM

Well at this point, I’m doing fine.

Ultimately I let time do the healing.. which is all that would have happened had I let the “doctor” help me.

I eventually went and saw a real MD and she basically said that this was one of those things that’d go away with time.

I hope you’re feeling better.. Good luck.

N - April 21st, 2008 at 10:15 AM

That sucks you had such a negative experience.

I go to a couple of Chiros down here in Aus and they’ve been great for my back treatment. They really address the pain and compared to the MDs who only give me drugs, they really know their shit at what they do to target the pain. They’ve been excellent by me and seem to care alot more than the doctors i’ve been to so I wouldn’t go as far as making broad generalisations about the entire practise.

I’ve been to a doctor before who googled my symptoms onto the computer in front of me! I just swear by chiropractic, maybe you should just see a different one?

Jason - April 22nd, 2008 at 10:25 PM

N, the issue I have is that other folks I have talked to feel the same way I do. Most think they are complete charlatans.

I mean I was trying to be open minded about them when I went to one, but my experiences to date haven’t been good.

If others find value in the service that they provide then so be it. I don’t know if your chiropractor is selling you good feelings or if he’s actually doing something to help you. (Or hell if selling you good feelings IS the something that helps you).. but for my part, they weren’t doing anything of any value to me.

I’d be hard pressed to go to another chiropractor at this point. I mean they aren’t cheap after all..

Z - June 21st, 2008 at 6:38 PM

You should see what they do with kids, especially the anti-vaccination rhetoric they are so fond of. Oh, I’m sorry, the pro-information about vaccines rhetoric. Unfortunately their information is probably what Jenny McCarthy earned her Google Ph.D with. I enjoyed reading your post Jason. The sad thing is that you don’t even know how really bad things are in the world of chiropractic, but you’ve got a decent inkling.

What is the difference between a Doctor and a Chiropractor you ask? Doctors don’t call themselves chiropractors.

Jason - June 22nd, 2008 at 11:41 AM

It really makes you wonder how this industry has lasted as long as it has..

C - October 28th, 2008 at 1:04 PM

You have to realize that there are lying scumbags in every profession. There happens to be a lot in the chiropractic profession. However, there are also very good chiropractors who treat from a strictly evidence based musculoskeletal perspective using a combination of commonly accepted techniques (myofascial release, massage, traction, mobilization, adjustment, physiotherapy modalities and exercise prescription). Someone in this post said the quacks use the term ‘subluxation’ and this is essentially true. That’s the easiest way to differentiate a good chiropractor from a quack (obviously this is a rough guide). Anyways, I’ve had great relief from chiropractic treatment and nothing hokey was done to me or asked of me. I was asked about the pain and history of the injury, I underwent a full physical assessment and I was treated the same day and it only cost me $50 for the first visit and $25 for the next two visits that I needed. That’s it. You know that most professional sports franchises employ chiropractors to treat their athletes. Most amateur / olympic athletes see chiropractors. These are people that know their shit when it comes to health and fitness. The take home point is that there are bad apples everywhere and you have to be a smart consumer, even when it comes to health care. Do your research but keep an open mind.

Andrea - November 22nd, 2008 at 12:13 PM

OMG – It’s like you just wrote my story! These scam artist chiropractors must go to the same con school. I got the exact same spiel, right down to the Christopher Reeve story. I went in for HEADACHES (my con man ran an ad in the local paper for relief from headaches)and by the time I left his office he had convinced me I had arthritis in my neck and a dowagers hump! Oh and my right leg was 1 inch shorter than my left leg! I was basically told I needed immediate intensive treatment,which cost $10,000 but if I signed up for his plan today,he would reduce price to $4,000 and i could make payments. Of course i signed, he was very smooth con man, but as soon as I got home I realized i had been duped and I called his office and cancelled the contract, but not before he had charged me $350.00 for the first visit! People, please do your research when it comes to chiropractors, I’m sure there are some good ones, but from my research (after the fact)I have found that they typically run the same scam. Jason, Thank you so much for posting your story. I felt really stupid and embarrased after i fell for this, but reading your post has shown me that it wasn’t me, I am not stupid! These guys are running a scam and you are helping to expose it and helping “victims” of this chiropractic scam to see the light! Thank you!

J. Patrick McCarver, D.C. - December 21st, 2008 at 8:22 PM

Hello Jason, Sorry to hear about your experience at that chiropractor. The real problem in your story is two-fold: 1. The chiropractor never told you what was going on and what his role was in you getting better, and 2. you,being like most of us, wanting quick relief from whatever ails you. So if you would allow me a little of time I will try to explain what that other chiro was afraid to. Chiropractic doesn’t operate in the same field with tradition allopathic or alternative medicine. Both of these are concerned with treating your disease or symptom. Chiropractic is concerned with removing interference in your nervous system(NS). Chiropractic is not a “cure” for neck or back pain (or anything else for that matter). Your NS is the master control center for everything your body does. We only work with the back and neck because that is where your spinal cord is. I hate that you feel that all chiros are bad because of this guy, I mean I’ve been screwed over by a computer guy before, but that doesn’t that you are no good at what you do. Listen, it’s really simple, Subluxation is the term used to describe a vertebrae that is misaligned and causing interference to the NS. The job of the chiro is to remove the interference and allow the to function normally. I will readily admit that there are lots of shady chiros out there. If you ever go to one of us again, beware of anything that is mentioned beyond removing interferce to your NS. Back to comment about quick relief. Most of the problems we have with health is due to this problem. We don’t listen to our bodies anymore, we believe that every symptom is something to get rid of. Symptoms are typically your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, that are not the problem. It would be like me replacing my moniter every time I got an error message on the screen. Health and healing take time, chiropractic helps the body do that better. I hope this helps in some way, if not I would be more than willing to talk to you personally, feel free to e-mail me.

Jason - January 12th, 2009 at 10:01 AM

Thanks for your input Patrick I do appreciate it.

If chiropractic doesn’t operate in the same field with traditional allopathic or alternative medicine, then why do you call yourself a doctor? What form of medicine is it then? Is it medicine at all? More over, most D.C.’s actually go out of their way to show that their “cures” rival or even surpass any cure that you might find via modern medicine.

Your own marketing schemes and methodologies however makes your “science” smack of snake oil. Some sort of cure all that will solve all your ails if only you did this one thing, for the low low price of... over the course of months and months...

Chiropractic may concern itself with my nervous system, but I maintain that the activator method using that little thumper device can do absolutely nothing to adjust my spine, or to use your words, “remove interference in my nervous system”. Any comment to the opposite is pure shenanigans..

And while yes, “Subluxation” is technically a medical term its use in this manner is not only erroneous but misleading. A subluxation is a “partial dislocation”, and if someone has dislocated their spine then nothing you do will help. If you have a subluxation of the spine then the last thing you need is some jackass with a “hammer” fixing it. Used in the manner that it’s used by the chiropractic community, it’s designed not to educate but rather used as a term to scare and bewilder.. “Oh Noes, the ‘doctor’ is using a scary medical term that I don’t understand... I must need his help...”

You have been screwed over by one computer guy, but don’t blame all computer guys. Fair enough. What's interesting is that there isn’t a larger belief that computer guys will screw you.. Yet when I tell my chiropractor story a lot of folks chime in with similar stories. So a lot of folks are getting screwed around by chiropractors.. No so much with computer guys huh..

So is that a failing in your industry that it attracts so many bad practitioners? Of the probably 100 people I have told this story to, a good 50% of them had a similar story and more knew of someone with a similar story.

You readily admit there are a lot of shady chiro’s out there.. that’s amusing because I don’t readily admit there are a lot of shady computer guys.. in fact I haven’t run across very many.. I’m sure they exist but they aren’t any where near as apparent as people of your profession.

Finally, I leave you with the same thing that I always find amusing.. Chiropractors always call themselves doctors. Doctors (of medicine) never call themselves chiropractors. I wonder why that is..

To use your words “Chiropractic is not a cure for neck or back pain, or anything else for that matter.” Excellent! I couldn’t have said it better.

Brian - January 12th, 2009 at 10:13 AM

Sorry for those that had a bad experience. I went to a chiropractor when I was 18 because I was getting migraines for my whole life. I saw all kinds of MD’s and neurologist who gave me drugs that didnt work. The chiropractor adusted me 8 times and I’ve never had a headache again. I recommend people to chiropractors a lot and most seem to have a very favorable experience. I’d keep searching for a good chiropractor. Good luck!

Jason - January 12th, 2009 at 10:23 AM

See that’s the issue Brian, I think it’s pretty tough to find a “good chiropractor”. So far I’m pretty sure there is no such thing. My opinion, and the opinion of the majority of the folks I talk to is that they sell “good feelings” (placebo effect at best).

If “good feelings” works for you then so be it, but that sort of thing doesn’t help me. Snake oil sells and sells well.. The more they realize that, and the more honest folks are duped into buying into it ... “your left leg is longer than the right.. oh noes!” ... they more they will do it. People will continue to pay to cure things that don’t need to be cured.

It was said on the radio yesterday that a chiropractor is suing someone over his blog posts claiming defamation..

Being litigious about a profession that a lot of folks already see as a scam only makes it stink that much more.. it’s bad business simply because it’s bad PR furthering opinions like mine.

Kelly - February 12th, 2009 at 12:52 AM

I think it is sad that our health insurance companies help pay for these quaks to take advantage of people. I am sure that it makes everyone’s rates increase as a result. The whole profession should be illegal. It is nothing but a pseudoscience that reeks of fraud. People would heal just as well given enough time, but chiropractors like to take the credit for the body’s “innate ability to heal itself.” From my experience, chiropractic is ineffective at best and at worst it could potentially do harm.

CA - February 19th, 2009 at 9:47 PM

OMG.. thanks for your story. I laughed my ass off! I went for the first time yesterday and my bullshit meter was off the charts. I had to go back again today for the consult on the xrays. I wont’ be going back!

LM - September 15th, 2009 at 12:40 PM

This story is so true, I just came back from the chiroprator, which I am a non-believer, but thought I give it a chance because of a lower sore back which I have had before because of marathon running and it has come at the worst time because the Chicago Marathon is only 4 weeks away. The same thing happen to me, $185.00 for x-rays and then the next vist the next day was to be $45 for an adjustment which I went to and then I was told come in every day for the next two weeks, I’m unemployed, it did not matter, and she also has people coming in watching videos on subluxation, the choice I made right then and there was to get the hell out of there while I still had money for groceries and my mortgage.

Dr. Dalton RN, DC - October 24th, 2009 at 3:47 AM

Chiropractic has helped many people. Chiropractic has helped people that has had no luck with their medical treatments. Chiropractic is not for everyone. Have you ever heard of the “Mind and Body Connection?” Well, If you believe that you will never get well then you will not. If you believe that something bad will happen to you in life, then it probably will. And no, chiropractic is not medicine that’s why it is called Chiropractic. I’m sorry for those of you that have had a bad experience. I have had bad experiences with some of my past dentist, medical doctors, lawyers, etc. Instead of bad mouthing those professions, I went out and found what works for me. The doctor asked this person about falls as a child or abuse as a child because those childhood physical injuries can manifest 20 years later causing early degeneration of your spine. Chiropractic is not witch craft and one has to understand the anatomy and physiology of the body very well to understand the concept. Maybe the doctor did not do a good job of explaining. Your body needs time to adjust to the treatments provided. You can not expect for a few treatment to cure a problem that has been going on for 20 years. The patients that did not respond well to care in my office are usually the ones that missed several appointments and did not do the exercises or stretches as I asked. In my office, If I feel that I am unable to help a patient I will refer them to someone else and not waste anyone’s time or money.

Do you really think that the government or insurance companies would pay for witchcraft. No, they pay because chiropractic has helped many people and there is a need for this type of care. Everyone is not a good candidate for traditional surgery or medications. There is a time and place for every form of health care, you just have to find what works for you. Every single medication has side effects. Every surgery has risks. Studies have shown that the chances of strokes after cervical manipulation is very rare and about 1 per 1 million patients. There are many delicate chiropractic treatments and screening tests to rule out patients that may not be able to tolerate certain types of cervical manipulation. You do not have to be a medical doctor to be considered a “real doctor”.

I have worked in the Veterans hospital with people in tremendous pain and immobility and watched them decrease the use of their pain medications and become more mobile. These patients greatly appreciate or services so much that the military and veterans hospitals are expanding our services.

Jason - October 24th, 2009 at 10:11 PM

You’re right in that you don’t have to be a medical doctor to be considered a real doctor.. I know someone who has their doctorate in computer science (I think its CS anyway).. He doesn’t insist we call him Doctor either, even though he certainly has the right.. He also went to something like 20 years of schooling to get that doctorate.. How much does the average DC go through? OH and one other important point, he isn’t trying to fool anyone into thinking that he is a medical doctor..

“If you believe that you will never get well then you will not. If you believe that something bad will happen to you in life, then it probably will.”

Again, you have to believe chiropractic methodology works, for it to work.. If you believe it doesn’t work, it wont work.. At best, that’s called the placebo effect.. You’re convincing them that you’re doing something to make them better.. You have to “believe” in chiropractic for it to work.. Sort of like a religion that uses “faith healing”.. its basically the same thing..

You sell good feelings.. You try to convince people that they are getting better by performing (in your words, not mine) witchcraft.. You use big words like “subluxation” and funking little devices over them, then charge them outrageous fees..

Were we a couple hundred years in the past you’d be shaking a chicken foot over their head..

And as I said above, THAT’S NOT MEDICINE.. If I don’t believe in penicillin or even Advil, it still works.. Yet I have to “believe” for your cure to work.. Hrmmm..

At best, you’re selling those people a placebo and the placebo effect is doing the work that you’re taking credit for..

At worst, you’re frightening and even possibly hurting good people unnecessarily and charging them exorbitant fees couched in good will and trust.. That my friend makes you a sham artist and a snake oil salesman, whether you admit it to yourself or not.. You can get mad at me all you want but you have yet to prove me wrong or to say anything that would make me think otherwise..

All you’re doing is making my point for me..


Dr. Calvin, (Not a doctor) - October 24th, 2009 at 10:21 PM

Dr. Dalton RN, DC wrote:

“Do you really think that the government or insurance companies would pay for witchcraft.”

Short answer...yes.

“One of the most fascinating recipients of tax money from the Institute is the United Religions Initiative (URI), dedicated to creating a global religion. It got $30,000.

One of the religious traditions considered legitimate by the URI is Wicca or witchcraft.”


Dr. Dalton RN, DC also wrote:

You do not have to be a medical doctor to be considered a “real doctor”.

Quite true. Last I checked they were offering doctoral degrees in all sorts of stuff. Those people get to be called doctor too.

Chiropractors just prove that you can get people to call you “doctor” while only having a 4 year degree.

Ann - December 14th, 2009 at 2:52 PM

Your story sounds exactly like mine. The reality is that I had several fractured ribs due to osteoporsis, but the chiro insisted I had subluxation. He did more harm to me and I’m lucky I dropped him and learned what was really wrong with me before this clown hurt me more.

It’s no wonder that the fractures did not show up on his x-ray – the machine was so old that I’m sure it was inadequate. The fractures did show up on my primary care’s lab x-rays though. And he also tried to tell me that my neck and spine were too curved too, that I was on the verge of the “s” spine.

I never returned after I realized I’d been scammed. And I know others who have had the exact same office visits and treatments.

He got my insurance payment, but I never paid him $500 he billed me, and I told the attorney (geez, go figure) who recommended him to me that I was not going to pay it and I would sue him for malpractice if he tried to collect it from me. I never heard from them again.

Jason - December 15th, 2009 at 1:34 PM

Wow Ann.. I hope you have no lasting pain or damage.. that’s just awful.. and yet an all too common story.. You likely wouldn’t believe the number of people that write me that have similar tales..

Alton - January 5th, 2010 at 8:00 AM

O Jason, the chiro stories just go on and on.

So many of them tie themselves to some unheard of religion and walk around in their “exam cubicles” like they are saints or something, all the while hopeing that you will surrended BIG bucks to the receptionist when you depart their laire.

Check out this link and be glad you were spared from these shaynanigans.

My dad went to this one and dropped over $1000 for 2 “treetments”.

Don’t forget to check when considering another doctor.

Mitchell - January 30th, 2010 at 8:36 AM

There are two words to listen for here in Atlanta if seeking treatment – LIFE UNIVERSITY. If you ever hear that a Chiropractor has schooled there, RUN for the hills. Remember EST training, Tony Robbins? Their entire strategy is SALES.

Life University itself has one of the largest “drive through” Christmas light displays you will ever see for two months or so during the holidays. They have a huge campus in Marrietta Georgia, who do you suppose pays for all of this??? Their “leader” (think Manson or Koolaid) has that scary hard-purple-hair-preacher-on-TV look and is big on “continuing education”. Translation: paying the light bill at Christmas.

Ask any chiropractor is any state where they studied, if they say “Life” you will absolutely hear things like “Keep coming back”, “Turn on the power!”, I guarantee it. I know four “Life” chiropractors, two just casually that don’t know I’m aware of their cult and they all speak “Life” – test it.

I went to a Life chiropractor off and on for months in Marietta, GA and I think it was about 25-$30/visit – after all the show and dance, and x-rays from a machine out of a dumpster as noted above. The treatment was fine except the use of the “Spine-o-Lator” (no shit) that he always made my lay on after I was adjusted and rolled up & down my spine for 5 minute and was $15 extra.

I was then in a car accident, hit from behind and rolled over by a FedEx truck. I didn’t know what to do as I was not visibly hurt in any way, but was a bit dizzy, I did not go (refused) in an ambulance for care. I called my chiropractor and he said to get to the hospital for x-rays. I did so the next day and they basically kicked me out and said nothing was broken, but that’s about it.

Then I went to my chiropractor. I had been paying cash per-visit. He knew I had Blue Cross insurance, but if they file insurance they get paid less so I was a cash customer .... until this accident. Let me insert here this was my former, dyed in the wool “Life University – turn on the Power” Chiro. In fact, his office was so close I’m sure he picked up some sort of UFO signal from the hard-haired leader.

Does anyone see where this is going?

As soon as I went to see him after being x-rayed (which I did not carry to him), I went into the “exam” room with him and saw him remove my current chart that contained all my prior visits and grab a FRESH one. I’m not one to be meek and don’t give anyone any slack and asked what he was doing. He said we had to start over as it was going to be an insurance claim. I never saw my old chart again.

So let me speed this up as I’m tired of it as well. I did the initial treatment, he started a new chart and said it would take about 30 visits. He THEN told me, “I know a personal injury lawyer around the corner” ... I know, sounds like a story but it’s true. So I hook up with the lawyer as FedEx would not own up to the vehicle damage and FedEx turned a third-party-Nazi business against me to not pay for my auto claim (Crawford).

My $30 rate, went to $90 to the insurance company (PLUS the Spine-o-Lator rate). I was FORCED to do ALL of the treatments, otherwise the “Lawyer” could not substantiate the personal injury claim. The lawyer settled with FedEx flat (I got maybe $300 for “pain and suffering/Diminished Value on the vehicle”) and after 12 miserable months it was done.

Yes Peter Pan, these stories do come true.

Listen, I have had chiropractic treatment off and on for 25+ years since I was very young. I’m very active, then have to sit behind a computer. I remodel homes as an investor myself, do HARD labor and get hurt. There have been many times when I have been in blinding pain and tried everything in the world to help to NOT have to go to the chiropractor, but once I did, a good chiropractor can give you relief. Is it “permanent”? No. Does it seem they fix it one time and break it the next sometimes? Yes. Will I visit one again? Yes.

Here’s the deal. NEVER let anyone professing to be ANY kind of advisor/medical/healer press you into anything you don’t want to do. USE YOUR INTUITION. If you feel uncomfortable LEAVE. If they treat you improperly, DON’T RETURN.

It’s easy to bash a person, practice or any segregation when you’ve been slighted. If you are in sever pain are at the end of options, chiropractic is always an option

If they are from “Life”, run. Otherwise should you seek treatment, get x-rays from a MEDICAL doctor (and keep them, they are yours) and if a chiropractor insists on “taking their own”, LEAVE.

If you believe in and start any form of treatment, just do what I do and with every visit, consider these people PERMANENTLY ON PROBATION!

Be well – Namaste’

To support my “LIFE” theory, look at this article, especially “Patient Education and Practice Building”

Rando - February 11th, 2010 at 11:21 PM


I just went to see one because I hurt my back at work. The first thing I had to do was watch a video that reminded me of the Darhma videos from LOST, there was a guy behind a big ol’ desk telling me how “special” I am because my doctor chose to have this machine and that I’m one of the lucky ones, they even had kids on there saying how good they feel. Do kids really need a chiropractor?

I swear I was joining a cult of some sort. On day 2 I noticed they have a bookshelf of books with a spirituality section, don’t get me wrong I’m a believer of eastern philosophies/religions as well as some new age views but still I found it just weird. I’m starting to think that the colour chart and the spine x-ray was just a ploy to get info on where they should insert the alien probe and make me one of them.

Another thing I noticed is that no one leaves after there treatment, by the time I was done there were a few families sitting around sharing jelly beans. wtf?

Anyways they sent me off with a “self help” CD that sounds like an infomercial and a 3 third booking. All while my company is waiting for a response from the “doctor” on how my back is. I guess I’ll tell them I won’t know until I earn my tin foil hat!!

dr. bobby mozafari, dc - June 16th, 2010 at 10:38 AM

sorry you went through such a bad experience. i don’t blame you for having a negative view of chiropractors... especially when you live in texas.

many chiropractors out there ruin the progress of the profession (and, believe me, it’s progressing greatly). it’s unfortunate that there are still those chiropractors out in practice. they shun all things medical and don’t care enough about professionalism, the way real doctors should.

just as it’s been mentioned before, there are bad people in every field. obviously, you know this. however, something i tell everyone is to do their research when looking for a chiropractor in their area. not only should they ask around (friends, family, medical doctors, etc), but they should also be made aware of things to look for or look out for when finding a good chiropractor.

first off, credentials are important. also, see what school they graduated from. the best schools, in my opinion, are logan university, new york chiropractic college, and national college of chiropractic. also, you want to look for a place that doesn’t only offer chiropractic adjustments, but therapy exercises, therapy modalities, perhaps a physical therapist on staff, etc. typically, those chiropractors think more progressively and care more about getting their patients well than swindling their patients. lastly, you want to find someone relatively young and someone you feel you can trust... someone who genuinely cares.

there’s a dichotomy in chiropractic where on one side, you have chiropractors who are more medically minded and on the other side, you have chiropractors who believe everything’s curable with supplements and chiropractic adjustments. most chiropractors that are graduating today lean more towards the medical side. the “dinosaurs” of chiropractic thinking tend to stay over to the anti-medical side.

keep in mind that chiropractic is still a relatively new healthcare field and is still evolving. also, it’s got a history of being dragged through the mud by the american medical association for years and years in attempts to eliminate competition whenever the field refuses to join their umbrella (like the osteopathic field did). since the supreme court decision of wilk v ama, things have been going better between the medical-chiropractic relationship and they continue to get better as the years go on.

oh, one last thing... your brain’s great at making you think that something isn’t there. so, even though you might have something wrong with your neck that originally caused you pain, your thalamus kinda tells the part of the body that’s sending the pain signals to shut up... it’s kinda like tuning out a car alarm in the parking lot after hearing it for a few hours straight. just because you can’t feel it anymore, though, doesn’t mean the problem still can’t be there... for example, i’m sure your older male relatives don’t get their prostates checked because it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon. they do it because there might be something going on that they haven’t had symptoms of yet (whether it’s pain, bleeding, etc). understand what i mean?

anyways, i know what i just typed out may not change your point of view based on the ridiculous experience you had, but i hope it did, if not just by a little.

Allen Botnick DC - September 7th, 2010 at 8:10 AM

In response to Dr. Mozafari’s comment that the reason for chiropractic’s poor quality is because it is evolving, I take issue with that. All of the evidence says the opposite. So far the only thing that has been happening is the co-opting of medical techniques like nutrition or athletic training which are grafted on to the core subluxation methods. The entire field is a scam built around the false believe that adjustment is a biomechanical cure for the spine and that it takes a long time to work. Adjustments do not do this. Research and science proves that adjustments do not change the spine with repeat treatment. All that ever happens is a short term neurological stimulation that can speed healing by relieving pain. So when a chiropractor tells you that they can fix biomechanical problems in your spine with adjustment run. Biomechanical problems nearly always involve destabilization which means ligaments are loose and need to be restored for permanent cure. Because chiropractors can’t give injections they can’t give prolotherapy to accomplish this. Even worse, they are so anti-medical that they don’t even want to be allowed to cure patients, it is simply more profitable to keep them sick. So never believe a DC when he tells you that chiropractic problems are the result of a few bad apples, aside from individual problems like sexual harrassment the major overutilization and quackery always starts at the top with the schools teaching it to the chiropractic students.

Jason - September 9th, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Wow.. Good post Allen.