Sensible advice for aches, pains & injuries

Dammit, Jim, I’m Not a Doctor!

The inevitable medical disclaimer for, in which I try to say the predictable legal stuff with as much folksy charm as possible

by Paul Ingraham, Vancouver, Canadabio
I am a science writer and a former Registered Massage Therapist with a decade of experience treating tough pain cases. I was the Assistant Editor of for several years. I’ve written hundreds of articles and several books, and I’m known for readable but heavily referenced analysis, with a touch of sass. I am a runner and ultimate player. • more about memore about

Quick version: There is no medical advice on It’s all opinion. You’re responsible for your own health care decisions. Don’t even think about trying to sue me — it won’t work.

I “RECOMMEND” NOTHING, technically. I offer education and opinions and expert hunches about the benefits and risks of treatment options. What you do with those options is entirely your business and responsibility, much like your laundry. I am obviously not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here and thought that you understood. For instance, if you notice that I seem to be enthusiastic about massage, and so you excitedly use crowbar on your tight scalenes trying to fix a weird pain you’ve had there lately, and you break your vertebral artery and die, that’s not my fault — that’s your fault.

It sounds like I’m kidding, but I’m really not. People have actualy done things like that.1 Because people can be just incredibly foolish.

I’m not a doctor, and I certainly don’t try to play one on the internet. I’m not even all that well-educated. I’m a science writer, (retired) Registered Massage Therapist, and an obsessive reader. Nothing published on is a medical fact or medical advice. It’s all just my opinion, which is known to be wrong from time to time (approximately weekly). Most doctors are smarter than me. Hell, I had a cat once who outsmarted me almost every time I tried to have a tuna sandwich. On the other hand, some doctors are flat out dumber than me or the cat. So you never know, and you should probably just judge information on its own merits, regardless of credentials, and with the help of a doctor if there’s any real risk involved.2

It isn’t worth your while to try to sue me: my little publishing company3 is not insured, and cannot be insured — underwriters blow milk out their noses when I ask them about it. And so there are no deep insurer’s pockets that you can dig into by suing me for anything I publish. And a judge would laugh at you if you tried to sue me, because it’s silly. Plus, I’m Canadian — nobody sues Canadians. We’re too nice. And yet, like Australians, we also like our hardware.

So don’t even start with me.

In general, the resources on are good starting places for personal discussions with your doctor. No article published on can or does replace advice received directly from a certified health care professional — ideally a rational and compassionate one, of course! Better yet if they have a sense of humour. If in doubt about the seriousness of any injury or symptoms, please make an appointment with a physician or any other appropriate health care provider. (Note that physical therapists, as a general rule, are better qualified than most physicians to treat musculoskeletal problems.4)


All my articles involve at least some scientific debate and often controversy.5 It takes decades of scientific consensus before any idea can start to be considered fact-like. Until then, every scientific idea is a theory, and everything I say about it is an opinion. I do my best to make my opinions more valuable to my readers by making them as informed as possible through study and professional experience, and either by supporting them with references to peer-reviewed research (see my publication standards), or by acknowledging the limitations of my own knowledge and identifying speculation as speculation and not trying to pass off my ideas as fact. But they are still just my opinions!

Paul Ingraham, Publisher
778-968-0930 (Vancouver)


  1. Grant AC, Wang N. Carotid dissection associated with a handheld electric massager. South Med J. 2004 Dec;97(12):1262–3. PubMed #15646768.

    The extracranial internal carotid artery (ICA) is susceptible to injury and dissection from external shear forces applied to the neck. Traumatic ICA dissection usually occurs in the setting of a sudden, high amplitude force causing significant distortion of surrounding soft tissues. Weaker, repetitive forces applied for longer intervals may also pose a risk for ICA dissection. A 38-year-old woman with no significant stroke risk factors had sudden onset of severe dysarthria and left hemiparesis several days after receiving an approximately 20-minute neck massage with a handheld electric massager. The moving elements consisted of two approximately 2-cm-diameter spheres that percuss the skin with low amplitude and high frequency. Magnetic resonance imaging and angiography demonstrated acute infarction in the right middle cerebral artery territory and dissection of the extracranial right ICA. Handheld electric massager units may cause ICA dissection and disabling stroke.

  2. Doctor’s hate it when you ignore them and listen only to the Internet. But most of them are happy if you ask, “Is this idea I found online any good? Or is it total bollocks?” BACK TO TEXT
  3. Very little. Trailer-guy voice: “One man… with a website … in a world where people don’t just give you money because you have a website … because that would be weird … ” BACK TO TEXT
  4. Doctors are unqualified to care properly for most common pain and injury problems, especially the stubborn ones, and this has been proven by other doctors: Stockard et al found that 82% of graduates lacked “basic competency” in this area. For more information, see The Medical Blind Spot for Aches, Pains & Injuries: Most physicians are unqualified to care for many common pain and injury problems, especially the more stubborn and tricky ones. BACK TO TEXT
  5. Where by “some” I mean “oodles.” It’s absolutely ridiculous just how much controversy there is about this stuff. It’s insane. BACK TO TEXT