Four articles on PainSci cite Mirtz 2009: (1) Choose the Therapist, Not the Therapy (2) The Chiropractic Controversies (3) Does Spinal Manipulation Work? (4) Organ Health Does Not Depend on Spinal Nerves!
PainSci summary of 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 at the bottom of the page, as often as 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 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.
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,” Jordan A Gliedt, Cheryl Hawk, Michelle Anderson, Kashif Ahmad, Dinah Bunn, Jerrilyn Cambron, Brian Gleberzon, John Hart, Anupama Kizhakkeveettil, Stephen M Perle, Michael Ramcharan, Stephanie Sullivan, and Liang Zhang, Chiropr Man Therap, 2015.
- “Canadian chiropractors’ attitudes towards chiropractic philosophy and scope of practice: implications for the implementation of clinical practice guidelines,” Lesley Biggs, David Hay, and Dale Mierau, 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:
- Relationships Between Sleep Quality and Pain-Related Factors for People with Chronic Low Back Pain: Tests of Reciprocal and Time of Day Effects. Gerhart 2017 Ann Behav Med.
- Modulation in the elastic properties of gastrocnemius muscle heads in individuals with plantar fasciitis and its relationship with pain. Zhou 2020 Sci Rep.
- Association Between Plantar Fasciitis and Isolated Gastrocnemius Tightness. Nakale 2018 Foot Ankle Int.
- No Added Benefit of Combining Dry Needling With Guideline-Based Physical Therapy When Managing Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Stieven 2020 J Orthop Sports Phys Ther.
- Effectiveness of customised foot orthoses for Achilles tendinopathy: a randomised controlled trial. Munteanu 2015 Br J Sports Med.