Chiropractic - is there a better choice?

I have weird joints. They all bend in ways they ought not to and I can pull my arms and legs out of their sockets. It’s all pretty hideous but great entertainment for my nephews; I’m pretty much unbeaten at Mercy. It’s just how I’ve alway been.

My bones crack an awful lot too, as I move around and as I stretch and whatnot. Many people have warned me this leads to arthritis, but I’ve looked into it, and there’s no evidence for this — it’s just carbon dioxide escaping from the synovial fluid in the joints.

Recently though I’ve started geting some discomfort in my back. The best way to describe it is that it “feels” like I need to crack it, but I can’t. I can get to the top 4-5 vertebrae and the bottom few too and that usually sorts out any discomfort there, but this was in the middle of my back. Being a big wuss, I moaned about it endlessly and got Ness to give me back rubs; we can feel a bit of a knotted muscle there. While they’re lovely the massages didn’t sort the problem. Nor could I crack it even with Ness’s help.

Eventually I let Ness talk me into seeing someone, and without really looking into it, she booked me into a local chiropractor. From my first appointment something wasn’t quite right — the place is filled with pro-chiro propaganda all of which has a subtle (and sometimes less subtle) anti-medicine message. I’m really uncomfortable with this, as I’m very scientific and rational, and hate pseudoscience with a passion.

Here’s the quandary though. Having been several times now and even having discussed my situation and scepticism with the chiropractor woman, I can’t deny my back is feeling better. However I feel uncomfortable with the general methodologies chiropractic seems to take, and the general posters and pamphlets at the practice. I can’t deny that unlike some “alternative” remedies such as acupuncture, chiropractic seems to make some sense: the theory that a misaligned spine presses on the nerves that run into your major organs and can cause issues is logical enough. But if that was the case, and that asthma could be treated by cracking your spine (as we’re led to believe), why isn’t chiropractic better recognised by medicine? Why do clinics seem to have to battle head-on with medicine, instead of quietly and rationally pointing at the evidence and saying, “Hey, this works.” Alarm bells ring.


An appalling chiropractic propaganda poster.

I looked at osteopathy - that seemed to suffer from the same issues. The next obvious thing is physiotherapy. But even they seem to be into this holistic, alternative medicine witch-doctory.

So I don’t know what to do. I have two more appointments booked, and I’m hoping that will be it. My back’s definitely better, and it’s very much a mechanical problem they’re fixing, no funny “this is treating your bowel problem” nonsense. So I can rationalise it in that way. But my money (and it’s not cheap!) is promoting something I’m very unhappy with. There just doesn’t seem to be a rational alternative.

Filed under: Blog
Posted at 14:04:10 GMT on 28th October 2007.

About Matt Godbolt

Matt Godbolt is a C++ developer working in Chicago in the finance industry.