Can Chiropractors and Evidence-Based Manual Therapists Work Together?
PainSci summary of Homola 2006?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focussed 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. ★★★★★?5-star ratings are for sentinel studies, excellent experiments with meaningful results. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.
Dr. Sam Homola covers the topics of subluxation theory and spinal manipulative therapy in this 2006 article, managing to be precise and thorough without losing his amiable tone (exactly what I aim for on PainScience.com). It’s still a bit heavy going for patients, but it’s worthwhile for anyone who’s really keen to understand the subject matter, and it’s still completely relevant more than a decade later.
Use of manual therapy in the form of manipulation and massage is evident in the earliest recordings of history. Today, manual therapy is an evidence-based practice that can be used with predictable results in the treatment of a variety of neuromusculoskeletal problems. However, for some manual therapists, treatment is still based on a belief system that incorporates vitalism, energy healing, and other metaphysical concepts. Cooperation of practitioners in researching the effects of manual therapy would require uniformity based upon the guidelines of science, following rules for selection of an evidence-based therapy that produces predictable and replicable results. Such an approach would not allow contamination by dogma or by an agenda that is designed more to support a belief system than to find the truth. The chiropractic profession, which began with a founding father in 1895, is identified primarily by its use of manipulation. But chiropractic is based upon a vertebral subluxation theory that is generally categorized as supporting a belief system. The words "manipulation" and "subluxation" in a chiropractic context have meanings that are different from the meanings in evidence-based literature. An orthopedic subluxation, a partial dislocation or displacement of a joint, can sometimes benefit from manipulation or mobilization when there are joint-related symptoms. A chiropractic subluxation, however, is often an undetectable or asymptomatic "spinal lesion" that is alleged to be a cause of disease. Such a subluxation, which has never been proven to exist, is "adjusted" by chiropractors, who manipulate the spine to restore and maintain health. The reasons for use of manipulation/ mobilization by an evidence-based manual therapist are not the same as the reason for use of adjustment/manipulation by most chiropractors. Only evidence-based chiropractors, who have renounced subluxation dogma, can be part of a team that would research the effects of manipulation without bias.
These four articles on PainScience.com cite Homola 2006 as a source:
- PS Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain Syndrome — A guide to the unfinished science of muscle pain, with reviews of every theory and self-treatment and therapy option
- PS Does Chiropractic Work? — An introduction to chiropractic controversies like aggressive billing, spinal adjustment as a panacea, treating kids, neck manipulation risks, and more
- PS Does Spinal Manipulation Work? — Spinal manipulation, adjustment, and popping of the spinal joints and the subluxation theory of disease, back pain and neck pain
- PS Spinal Subluxation — Is there any such thing?