Chiropractic Claims

A survey of offices across Toronto found most offered more than back and neck relief.


Toronto Star - LIFE WRITER

October 22, 1999

A Star reporter visited the offices of 15 chiropractors chosen at random to get a sense of the state of modern chiropractic care.

The offices were located across the city - north Toronto, west Toronto, downtown and the east end.

The reporter told staff she was shopping for a chiropractor and wanted information about their practice. All of the offices said they treated children. One chiropractor explained how by manipulating a child's upper spine he could relieve and largely cure asthma.

He also said moving vertebrae higher up on the neck would cure ear infections in children, The office even offered to treat children for free if the parents were treated.

The Star reporter found pamphlets available at one office indicating that chiropractic could treat ear infections, allergies and asthma in children.

"Amoxicillin is ineffective and can even make the problem worse," said one brochure on ear infections and children.

Eight offices had pamphlets saying infants should be treated from birth.

One pamphlet listed colic, constipation, recurring ear infections, respiratory problems bed wetting, colds headaches, poor concentration ' sinus problems, stomach aches and scoliosis as "common health conditions of, infants and children that may respond to chiropractic care."

However, the Canadian Pediatric Society says treating infants and children with chiropractic is useless if not dangerous.

In a statement in the Canadian Journal Of Pediatrics, the Canadian Pediatric Society expressed "great concern over unscientific claims being made by Canadian chiropractors regarding the proper care of infants and children" calling chiropractic adjustments to children "ineffective and useless."

Society spokesperson Dr. Paul Munk says though uncommon, there have been serious neurological complications from chiropractic manipulations in children.

He is also concerned that potentially life-threatening conditions may be misdiagnosed and effective treatment be delayed while a child is undergoing chiropractic care.

Jean Moss, president of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, says the school does teach students to examine infants to see if their spines and muscles are developing properly.

There are cases where adjustments to children's spines are necessary, after a fall or trauma, she explains. And in some chronic ear infections the muscles around the ear and the face become very spastic and painful and by working on those you can reduce the pain, through chiropractic treatment.

Among the services offered at the offices surveyed:
  • Three provided hair analysis to detect nutritional imbalances or diseases at a cost of $65 to $85.

    "Everyone should have their hair analyzed at least once a year to prevent deficiencies and serious health concerns from occurring" reads one pamphlet.

    Hair analysis can reveal mineral imbalances linked to everything from anorexia to cancer, Cystic Fibrosis, diabetes and Muscular Dystrophy among a host of other ailments, the pamphlet said.

  • Four chiropractors offered live blood cell analysis or live blood microscopy. In this process fresh blood samples are examined under a "specialized darkfield, phase contrast and bright field microscope." The test is touted as detecting conditions from immune deficiencies, microbial overgrowth and problems with fat metabolism that proponents say cannot be detected with traditional blood analysis '

  • Four offices offered ear candling, where a lighted candle is inserted into the ear, forming a vacuum to suck out impurities, toxins and poisons in the ear.

  • At one office, a chiropractor offered "Radionics - an energy based healing modality" that uses a "special instrument" to clear a patients "energy fields."

  • Another office offered "meridian therapy" for $29 and "NET (neural emotional technique" for $36.

  • At one office, allergies and nutritional imbalances were said to be diagnosed in half an hour with an Interro machine that measures electrical resistance of the body's organs and tissues.

  • Another office offered a computer based biofeedback unit, called the Omega Acubase System, to help to identify "energy imbalances" and recommend specific remedies and nutrition supplements.

  • One chiropractor offered "Cranio Sacral" Therapy. In this treatment the membranes and cerebral spinal fluids that surround the brain and spinal cord are manipulated to treat everything from learning disabilities to traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, migraines, chronic fatigue, central nervous system disorders emotional difficulties and post-traumatic stress disorder among many other conditions.

    Moss says none of these treatments are taught at the college. However, the college does offer a graduate course in acupuncture.

  • Five chiropractors offer brochures or show charts explaining how subluxations - described as subtle misalignments in the spine - cause many if not most diseases.

    These charts and brochures link specific vertebra to specific organs and say that by moving the spine everything from gall bladders to hypertension to heart arrhythmias can be treated and improved.

  • Another brochure says misaligned joints in the neck are the main cause of most headaches. It says chiropractic is extremely effective in treating migraine and tension headaches as well as neck pain and stiffness.

    But the brochure does not mention that chiropractic neck manipulations can, in rare cases, cause stroke.

    An inquest into the death of a 20 year-old Saskatchewan woman, who died of a stroke after a chiropractor manipulated her neck in 1998, urged that the risk of stroke from spinal neck manipulations be prominently displayed in all chiropractic offices.

    Moss says all chiropractors must tell patients of the risk of stroke before doing any neck manipulations.

  • Part I of article by Robin Harvey - She outlines the battle that is being waged at York University and the claims made by the leaders of the chiropractic college in Toronto

    - Back to York vs. CMCC