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Demonization regrets

 •  • 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.

About three social media drama cycles ago, physical therapist Chad Cook wrote an article called “The Demonization of Manual Therapy,” which was basically a rant about people like me — the debunkers of popular ideas in physical therapy, massage therapy, and chiropractic, the “big three” of “manual therapy,” the professions that try to help people with their hands. (Yeah, it’s kind of a weird term. Welcome to English.)

I wrote about Cook’s piece, and my take at the time was uncharacteristically gentle. I praised a couple good points he made, and otherwise largely left it alone. But I regretted playing softball when I saw this much more exasperated reaction from heavyweight medical bullshit-buster Dr. Edzard Ernst. He says some things I should have said. Ernst scathingly concludes:

“Cook’s defence of manual therapy is clumsy, inaccurate, ill-conceived, misleading and often borders on the ridiculous. In the age of evidence-based medicine, therapies are not ‘demonized’ but evaluated on the basis of their effectiveness and safety. Manual therapies are too diverse to do this wholesale.”

😬 Now come on, Edzard… tell us what you really think!

No one is “demonizing” anything except some individual dubious ideas and treatment methods that richly deserve it. There is no theme of excessive negativity about manual therapy, and manual therapists clearly have ways to carry on helping people in science-based ways that.

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