Will Vertebral Subluxations Affect My Pregnancy?

Samuel Homola, D.C.

Question

I am 20 weeks pregnant and have heard it is a good idea to have chiropractic treatment leading up to birth. I have been told the reason for this is to avoid pain in later pregnancy and to make sure the pelvis and baby are in the correct position for birth.

So far, my pregnancy has gone smoothly and I am in good physical and emotional condition, despite a few tiny niggles, e.g. occasional pins and needles from the lower elbow down and minor hip and lower back discomfort. I went to a chiropractor for the first time today and she told me my pelvis was twisted, one leg shorter than the other and that I had subluxations at C1, C2, C4, C7, T1.2, T6, T8, L4.5 and the sacrum. She gave me a list of problems that could eventuate or be exacerbated by not having these subluxations treated. She made an adjustment today and said that now my legs were even and my pelvis straight, but it would only last a few days. She said the only way to correct this (and the other problems) properly would be to come for treatments twice a week for a few weeks, then weekly and finally every two weeks, which would take me up until the birth.

Obviously, the treatment will be very expensive, but I don't want to neglect my health or possibly the health of my baby. What do you think about the suggested treatment?

Answer

You should not proceed with the treatment program you have described. I don't believe that any treatment will "make sure that the pelvis and the baby are in the correct position for birth." This is one of the claims of the "Webster Technique," which I recommend avoiding.

The "subluxations" you have been warned about should be considered figments of chiropractic imagination. If back pain becomes a problem, a good chiropractor or an osteopath who can offer manipulative treatment as needed might be helpful. But weekly treatments based on the scare tactics you have described is pointless.

Talk with your physician about a prenatal exercise and nutrition program. Otherwise, if you are in good health and without problems, just keep in touch with your family physician or obstetrician.

Best wishes for an uneventful pregnancy and a healthy, beautiful baby

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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 August 10, 2010.