Ask a Doctor | Letters | Chicago Reader

News & Politics » Letters

Ask a Doctor


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


I want to respond to Rose Spinelli's article on the dispute within the chiropractic field [October 26]. She forgets to include the perspective of what she dismissively calls "traditional"--that is, science-based allopathic--medicine. If she had done this the dispute between the straights and the mixers would be seen in a different light.

For one thing, Ms. Spinelli gives a banal definition of "vertebral subluxation" while neglecting the long tradition within chiropractic of trying to define this term so that it cannot be disproved by science. She also neglects to mention that vertebral subluxation cannot mean what the straights say it means. There is simply no evidence that many forms of sickness are caused by trauma to the upper cervical nerves.

She compounds her error when she writes that the Palmer Research Clinic "amassed documented case studies that revealed positive results." Many chiropractic claims are among the most disproved in the history of medicine. A long body of scientific research has demonstrated that certain specific types of neck and lower back pain can be addressed through some chiropractic techniques, although physical therapy is usually just as successful. No chiropractic techniques are generally considered successful for pain or illness in other areas of the body.

There is a lot of truly worthwhile information about how to treat the ailments that chiropractors claim as their specialty, it's unfortunate that none of it is in the article. How helpful is it to examine degrees of quackery when so much science-based information is out there? It is not a question of how a fraudulent folk theory can become integrated into allopathic medicine, it is a question of subsuming those limited chiropractic techniques that have clinical value into allopathic practice.

If your readers want more reliable information about chiropractic than Ms. Spinelli offers, there are a number of great Web sites that provide it. Quackwatch and Chirobase are two of the best.


Josh Kilroy

W. Catalpa

PS: I have no personal connection with either of these Web sites.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →