The final say in the doctor versus chiropractor dispute

Chiropractor Chris Senko has reacted to my response of his original article of March 21 by suggesting that I made some factual errors and oversights. I disagree.

Senko suggests I should read my own medical journals before commenting on chiropractic manipulation. I do and I have. If chiropractic therapy has any evidence based efficacy, it is likely in the management of low back pain. There have been numerous reviews of the effectiveness of spinal manipulation on lower back pain. These reviews suggest that manipulation can bring benefit to some sufferers. However, the effectiveness of the treatment appears modest and is certainly no better than treatment given by conventional medicine where doctors may prescribe physiotherapy, exercise, medication or manipulation. Back pain remains an extremely difficult condition to treat.

Where Senko’s claims go off the rails is when he says that we should be having our children’s/infant’s spines checked and manipulated for colic, bedwetting, allergies, asthma, etc. and that chiropractic care results in stronger immune systems and cures migraines. (This will come as a revelation to Dr. Jennifer Bestard, our neurologist, when she gives her public symposium on migraines next month). Despite whatever Senko might provide as ‘evidence’ for these preposterous claims, I can assure the reader that there is not one shred of evidence to support this dubious practice.

In 2008 the British science writer, Simon Singh, reviewed all of the available evidence for chiropractic claims regarding the successful management of colic, feeding difficulties, asthma, ear infections, bedwetting etc. His conclusion? They were all bogus and he claimed that the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) knew this too. The BCA launched a libel lawsuit against Singh but, due to an inability to provide supporting evidence, was forced to withdraw the lawsuit and pay Singh compensation for defamation in April 2010. If the BCA is unable to furnish evidence for the preposterous claims, I doubt that Senko can either. Frankly, the possibility of bedwetting, diphtheria, back pain and untold, unrelated conditions can all be cured by the same thing, “Cracking your bones”, is simply implausible and wishful thinking at best.

Senko further claims that I am ignorant as to the extent chiropractors are used by WCB and sports teams and posits the example of the Blue Jays and Sidney Crosby. Anyone who follows sport and professional athletes seriously and who takes an interest in the players on injured reserve on their favourite teams would be hard pressed to remember the team chiropractor of any franchise being quoted in the news as to the condition and progress of injured players in the last 30 years. The chiropractor who worked with Sidney Crosby, Ted Carrick, was providing occulovestibular retraining for balance and spatial awareness. In no way, show or form was he using traditional chiropractic or manipulation of any kind.

In cases of injured workers, all patients must initially see a physician to determine extent and mechanism of injury. The physician will then determine need for appropriate investigation and management. That management may, in a minority of cases, involve some form of chiropractic care. I have been doing this for 30 years and it truly is a minority of cases. Senko says I am ignorant, too, of the fact that chiropractors are employed by CBI Physiotherapy. CBI employs five physiotherapists, 10 physical therapists, five doctors and one chiropractor. Hardly a ringing endorsement for the statement, “Chiropractors are more successful than any other doctor in identifying and treating spinal and musculoskeletal injuries.”

Senko’s dismissal of ‘germ theory’ not being ‘germ fact’ is staggering in its naivety. In 1812 this may have been vaguely tenable but in 2012 it shows a profound lack of insight.

Lastly, Senko ends his letter by saying he has a wonderful relationship with most MDs in Red Deer. In his first article Senko felt that most MDs were not trained in health and wellness. He might just call up the MDs he has wonderful relationships with after he has insulted their level of training and find out just how cozy this relationship is.

Tony Ford

Red Deer