Doctor responds to chiropractor’s column

I wish to respond to an article written by chiropractor Chris Senko in your March 21st edition titled ‘Chiropractors can be beneficial to your families too’.

In the article, Senko makes a number of assertions regarding the role of physicians in health and wellness. Senko suggests that the majority of MD’s are not educated in these areas. The World Health Organization defines health as “A state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing.” Statistics Canada tells us that over 60% of Canadians will suffer at least one major episode of a mood disorder in their loves which often includes, or is precipitated by, a significant social upheaval. Family physicians, without a doubt, are acutely aware of this and are obviously at the forefront of the diagnosis and management of these personal and social issues. I would go as far to say that most family docs spend at least 50% of their working day dealing with mental and social issues.

Physicians have a thorough understanding of these concerns. That understanding is based on an encompassing view of science, culture, ethnicity and a respect for personal and religious beliefs. Physicians are well-trained in counseling, behavourial therapy and the use of modern medications that have overwhelming, verifiable evidence for their efficiency. Is it really plausible to suggest that family docs never discuss the importance of smoking cessation, balanced dietary intake, daily exercise, mental relaxation, etc. in the realm of total health and wellness? Senko’s assertion is thus fanciful or disingenuous at best.

Senko goes on to suggest, “A chiropractor is more successful than any other doctor in identifying and treating spinal and musculoskeletal problems.”

This baseless statement would come as a surprise to many different groups of interested parties. Firstly, to the legions of gifted orthopedic, neuro and spinal surgeons across the world whose understanding of the anatomy, physiology and pathology of spine is unsurpassed.

Secondly, to insurers like Workers Compensation Board, whose many clients suffer back injuries. WCB almost never use chiropractors to aid in diagnosis or assist in recovery – and for good reason – chiropractors do not achieve the success rates that make their use financially worthwhile.

Thirdly, the professional sports teams across the world. These teams have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the fitness and health of their players. They have team doctors, orthopedic surgeons, physiotherapists, MRI scanners, decompression chambers etc. But when was the last time you head the Flames team chiropractor tell is how soon Jerome Iginla would be returning from his back injury? As they say, “The proof is in the pudding.”

Modern medicine does not know everything by far, but at least the premise and practice of it is based upon the underpinnings of chemistry, physics, physiology, anatomy and verifiable evidence. Chiropractic is not so fortunate. It is based on the personal belief system of a Torontoian, Daniel David Palmer. In 1895 Palmer suggested that displaced vertebra would interfere with nerves, thereby negatively affecting the connecting organs resulting in illness. Palmer called these spinal displacements “subluxations”. In his theory, subluxations blocked the body’s innate intelligence which is the guiding energy carrying both physical and psychological significance. There is no science or evidence to back this up. Nor does it even take into account something as irrefutable as the ‘germ theory’ of infectious disease.

No chiropractor has ever been able to demonstrate what sublaxation is. No MRI scanner has been able to verify one either. The James Randi Educational Foundation ( has had a standing offer for over 20 years to any chiropractor that can demonstrate sublaxation. The reward remains unclaimed.

Dr. Tony Ford

Red Deer