Three articles on PainSci cite Mirtz 2009: 1. The Chiropractic Controversies 2. Does Spinal Manipulation Work? 3. Organ Health Does Not Depend on Spinal Nerves!
PainSci commentary on Mirtz 2009: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.
This landmark paper penned by four chiropractors is a strong indictment of a philosophical pillar of their own profession. Although a bit of a moving target over the years, subluxation theory generally refers to the idea that spinal joint dysfunctions have broad health significance, which has been a major component of chiropractic thought since the founding of the profession. The authors analyze and condemn it:
No supportive evidence is found for the chiropractic subluxation being associated with any disease process or of creating suboptimal health conditions requiring intervention. Regardless of popular appeal this leaves the subluxation construct in the realm of unsupported speculation.
And yet it’s been there for more than a century, I’d like to add.
Dr. Harriet Hall explained the significance of the paper in an article for ScienceBasedMedicine.org, The End of Chiropractic.
~ Paul Ingraham
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
BACKGROUND: Chiropractors claim to locate, analyze and diagnose a putative spinal lesion known as subluxation and apply the mode of spinal manipulation (adjustment) for the correction of this lesion.
AIM: The purpose of this examination is to review the current evidence on the epidemiology of the subluxation construct and to evaluate the subluxation by applying epidemiologic criteria for it's significance as a causal factor.
METHODS: The databases of PubMed, Cinahl, and Mantis were searched for studies using the keywords subluxation, epidemiology, manipulation, dose-response, temporality, odds ratio, relative risk, biological plausibility, coherence, and analogy.
RESULTS: The criteria for causation in epidemiology are strength (strength of association), consistency, specificity, temporality (temporal sequence), dose response, experimental evidence, biological plausibility, coherence, and analogy. Applied to the subluxation all of these criteria remain for the most part unfulfilled.
CONCLUSION: There is a significant lack of evidence to fulfill the basic criteria of causation. This lack of crucial supportive epidemiologic evidence prohibits the accurate promulgation of the chiropractic subluxation.
- “Chiropractic identity, role and future: a survey of North American chiropractic students,” Gliedt et al, Chiropr Man Therap, 2015.
- “Canadian chiropractors’ attitudes towards chiropractic philosophy and scope of practice: implications for the implementation of clinical practice guidelines,” Biggs et al, Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 1997.
- “Opposing Chiropractic: Persecution or Justified Criticism? – Science-Based Medicine,” Sam Homola, Sciencebasedmedicine.org.
Specifically regarding Mirtz 2009:
- “The End of Chiropractic,” Harriet Hall, ScienceBasedMedicine.org.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Inciting events associated with lumbar disc herniation. Suri 2010 Spine J.
- Prediction of an extruded fragment in lumbar disc patients from clinical presentations. Pople 1994 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- Characteristics of patients with low back and leg pain seeking treatment in primary care: baseline results from the ATLAS cohort study. Konstantinou 2015 BMC Musculoskelet Disord.
- Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of universal school-based mindfulness training compared with normal school provision in reducing risk of mental health problems and promoting well-being in adolescence: the MYRIAD cluster randomised controlled trial. Kuyken 2022 Evid Based Ment Health.
- Is there a relationship between throbbing pain and arterial pulsations? Mirza 2012 J Neurosci.