Answers to Questions about Chiropractic:
Are You For or Against Chiropractors?

Samuel Homola, D.C.

Question

I am a little confused. Are you for or against chiropractors? I have been going to my chiropractor for about 20 years. He has never said that adjustments are necessary unless you need one. He doesn't sell vitamins or hook me up to any machines, and he never gives me horror stories about what will happen if I don't go every week for the rest of my life.

I think you are being very hard on your profession. There is good and bad in every profession. The letter I read on your site about the woman who went to a chiropractor and was fed nonsense—well, she was duped into back surgery by her medical doctor, and now she's upset with the one chiropractor she went to see. There are wonderful chiropractors out there who do responsible work. I am happy that I have one in my life.

In the end, it is the patients' responsibility to find the best care for themselves. I applaud you for trying to weed out the bad apples, but please do not call chiropractic nonsense.

Answer

I am not against all chiropractors. I am opposed to those who use improper diagnostic and treatment methods. Nearly all the letters I receive come from patients who complain about the treatment they have received from chiropractors. I always answer these letters truthfully, even if it means advising these patients to discontinue the treatment.

Many chiropractors do a good job treating back trouble. But chiropractors who base their treatment on correcting "vertebral subluxations" are misinforming their patients, often advising them and other members of their family to get unnecessary periodic adjustments "to restore and maintain health." Patients who don't realize what this implies are often unable to distinguish appropriate treatment from inappropriate treatment when they see a chiropractor. (See "Does the Bad Outweigh the Good?" on Quackwatch.)

If you have found a good, properly limited chiropractor, you are fortunate. But you should make sure that you are well informed about all aspects of chiropractic care and can separate sense from nonsense when you see a chiropractor. You might be interested in reading "What a Rational Chiropractor Can Do for You" on this site.

I wish you the best in seeking appropriate health care for yourself and your family.

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Dr. Homola is a second-generation chiropractor who has dedicated himself to defining the proper limits on chiropractic and to educating consumers and professionals about the field. His 1963 book Bonesetting, Chiropractic, and Cultism supported the appropriate use of spinal manipulation but renounced chiropractic dogma. His 1999 book Inside Chiropractic: A Patient's Guide provides an incisive look at chiropractic's history, benefits, and shortcomings. Now retired after 43 years of practice, he lives in Panama City, Florida.

This article was posted on May 9, 2003.