Let’s be clear: chiropractic and osteopathy are alternative pseudoscientific methods, and no one should allow such treatment to be performed on them. Chiropractic is quackery, and systematic reviews by serious organizations like Cochrane show why. 

As the chiropractors themselves state, it is a “manual manipulation treatment procedure”. There is no evidence of the effectiveness of such treatments, but there is evidence that they can be fatal.

Science believes that the risks of chiropractic outweigh the potential (and unproven) benefits. 

A 2012 systematic review concluded that there is no accurate assessment of the risks and benefits for the neck of chiropractic. A 2010 systematic review by the famous “detective of alternative and complementary healing practices”, Edzard Ernst, states that there is no good evidence to support the assumption that neck manipulation is an effective treatment for any medical condition and suggests the precautionary principle in health care for chiropractic intervention even if the risk of vertebral artery dissection after neck manipulation is only a small possibility. The same review concluded that the risk of death from neck manipulation outweighs the benefit.

The Canadian Delphi study, in which another fighter for reason and against pseudoscience, Timothy Caulfield , took part, entitled “A taxonomy of risk-associated alternative health practices: A Delphi study“, chiropractic and osteopathy are listed as risky practices.

The analysis “Baseless Claims and Pseudoscience in Health and Wellness: A Call to Action for the Sports, Exercise, and Nutrition-Science Community” calls for action against pseudoscientific and unfounded claims in sports medicine, with a special emphasis on chiropractic and osteopathy. 

There are no conclusive conclusions that chiropractic does anything useful, it is considered that the positive effects are mainly caused by the placebo effect. 

A 2013 Cochrane review found very low to moderate evidence that SMT (spinal manipulative therapy, another name for chiropractic) was no more effective than inert interventions, sham SMT, or as adjunctive therapy for acute low back pain. The same review found that SMT does not appear to be superior to other recommended therapies.

Review from 2006 . found no hard evidence to support SM or other manual therapies for tension-type headache. Some other reviews have provided conflicting data, but with little evidence of actual effectiveness, and the authors of those studies emphasize that evidence from RCT studies is needed.

There is some thin evidence of some effectiveness of chiropractic for the treatment of upper extremity and shoulder pain. There is no evidence for the effectiveness of chiropractic for nocturnal urination, colic, during pregnancy, for high blood pressure, for ADHD, insomnia, in postmenopause.

By no means, under any conditions, chiropractic should not be used on babies, children in general and pregnant women. The case of a two-month-old baby who started having epileptic seizures after the parents received treatment from a chiropractor is described. 

Chiropractors are also associated with the spread of  mistrust in vaccines, they were advocates of not wearing masks and proponents of the “plandemic” conspiracy theory according to which the COVID-19 pandemic was planned in advance in order to control the population. 

Remember: There is no alternative medicine. There is only scientifically proven evidence-based medicine supported by solid data or unproven medicine for which scientific evidence is lacking (according to:  Fontanarosa and Lundberg.


Esoteric history of chiropractic

From the beginning, this “method” looks suspicious and mambo-jumbo. It was founded by Daniel David Palmer in Davenport, Iowa (USA) in 1895, and was named after Pastor Samuel Weed, one of Palmer’s patients. Palmer treated people’s spines using magnets, which is still an obscure and unproven effective method.  

DD Palmer claimed to have invented it on September 18, 1895, when he adjusted the spine of deaf janitor Harvey Lillard and allegedly restored his hearing. He then concluded that 95% of the disease was the result of displaced vertebrae interfering with nerve function (the other 5% was due to displacement of other bones). Elsewhere, he claimed that he gained his knowledge of chiropractic during a séance from a spirit. He later tried to claim that chiropractic is a religion, in an attempt to avoid charges of practicing medicine without a license.

Palmer was anti-scientific, i.e. a charlatan. He argued that smallpox is not a contagious disease but it is caused by subluxations that could be corrected. He was vehemently against vaccines, which is a view held by most chiropractors today.

Chiropractic is said to be extremely popular, but evidence shows that its popularity is variable and usually modest, and it is illegal in 12 countries (Argentina, Austria, Colombia, Egypt, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Lebanon, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Turkey and Ukraine). .

Don’t forget – the wellness industry is really an industry, a business worth about 4 trillion dollars, according to figures from 2017. It’s a real “Big Pharma”. Same as other alternative practices. Being a quack is extremely lucrative.


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3.  Bernie Garrett,  Timothy Caulfield,  Blake Murdoch,  Matt Brignall,  Atul Kumar Kapur,  Susan Murphy,  Erin Nelson,  Jillian Reardon,  Mark Harrison,  Jonathan Hislop,  Barbara J. Wilson‐Keates,  Joseph Anthony,  Peter S. Loewen,  Richard M. Musoke,  Joan Braun,  A taxonomy of risk-associated alternative health practices: A Delphi study , Health & Social Care in the CommunityHealth & Social Care in the CommunityHealth & Social Care in the Community , 10.1111/hsc.13386 ,  30 , 3 , (1163-1181) , (2021) .

4.  Garrett B, Caulfield T, Murdoch B, Brignall M, Kapur AK, Murphy S, Nelson E, Reardon J, Harrison M, Hislop J, Wilson-Keates BJ, Anthony J, Loewen PS, Musoke RM, Braun J. A taxonomy of risk-associated alternative health practices: A Delphi study. Health Soc Care Community. 2022 May;30(3):1163-1181. doi: 10.1111/hsc.13386. Epub 2021 May 26. PMID: 34041822; PMCID: PMC9291966.

5.  Tiller NB, Sullivan JP, Ekkekakis P. Baseless Claims and Pseudoscience in Health and Wellness: A Call to Action for the Sports, Exercise, and Nutrition-Science Community. Sports Med. 2022 Jun 10. doi: 10.1007/s40279-022-01702-2. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35687251.

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7.  Fernández-de-las-Peñas, César PT*; Alonso-Blanco, Cristina PT*; Cuadrado, Maria Luz MD, PhD†; Miangolarra, Juan Carlos MD, PhD*; Barriga, Francisco J. MD, PhD†; Pareja, Juan A. MD, PhD†. Are Manual Therapies Effective in Reducing Pain From Tension-Type Headache?: A Systematic Review. The Clinical Journal of Pain: March 2006 – Volume 22 – Issue 3 – p 278-285  doi: 10.1097/01.ajp.0000173017.64741.86 

8.  Chaibi A, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB. Manual therapies for migraine: a systematic review. J Headache Pain. 2011 Apr;12(2):127-33. doi: 10.1007/s10194-011-0296-6. Epub 2011 Feb 5. PMID: 21298314; PMCID: PMC3072494.

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Jelena Kalinić, MA in comparative literature and graduate biologist, science journalist and science communicator, has a WHO infodemic manager certificate and Health metrics Study design & Evidence based medicine training. Winner of the 2020 EurekaAlert (AAAS) Fellowship for Science Journalists. Short-runner, second place in the selection for European Science journalist of the year for 2022.