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Chiropractic detox

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Q. A friend reported having headaches and a fever after a chiropractic treatment. His chiropractor told him it was the toxin buildup in the spine being released after the realignment. This struck me as super fishy. Have you come across a study or scientific explanation that would support that?

A. No, I have not come across that. And I never will. This kind of detox belief is common in massage, where there’s some justification for it. Even though the idea of “releasing” or “flushing” toxins is always a misleading, fear-mongering oversimplification, post-massage soreness and malaise (PMSM) is a genuine clinical phenomenon. For more information about that, see Poisoned by Massage: Rather than being DE-toxifying, deep tissue massage may actually cause a toxic situation.

But there is not even a scrap of a smidgen of biological rationale for spinal manipulation causing any malaise due to freeing a “toxin buildup.” Spinal joints are not a repository for “toxins,” and even if there were — a ridiculous premise, but accept it for a moment — there’s no way that some spinal joint wiggling would set them loose to run amok in the bloodstream. Spinal manipulation is not that different from normal movement!

This idea is indeed “super fishy.” Utter bollocks, in fact.

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