Answers to Questions about Chiropractic:
Do I Really Need Lifetime Chiropractic Treatment?

Samuel Homola, D.C.

Question

I had a bad fall in a skiing trip, and had pain in my shoulder for a week then it let go a bit, but once I started working out again the pain moved to my neck. Every time I trip or move a bit wrong, I would feel like someone is pulling my neck. So I finally went to a chiropractor to see if I dislocated something. In the first check up, he said it should just take 2-3 adjustments and took an x-ray and gave my first adjustment.


When I came back for my second appointment, I was taken to a room where I was shown a video and then my x-ray, where my spine kinda twisted and then goes straight and a bit curved in the wrong direction. He started asking me questions and he said that my x-rays showed an old injury. And then I remembered about my car accident. I was hit by a car nine years ago. I didn't break anything and they only x-rayed my legs and arms, also had minor concussion. I've had minor headaches since then, lately did have numbness on my arms, and sometimes dizziness and high blood pressure.

He told me I have level 2 subluxation and he can get me to the level where I can live without pain but that now it can't be fully back to where it was, that this was supposed to have been treated back when the accident happened. He told me I needed to be adjusted twice a week for 12 weeks and then twice a month after that for life. The symptoms are explained by subluxation, but after reading most posts here, I decided to ask how much of this is correct

Answer

I would not recommend that you continue with the treatment program you describe. The proposal is a typical practice-building pitch designed more to increase the income of the chiropractor than to benefit the patient. Every patient is given the same or a similar treatment plan that recommends lifetime spinal adjustments to (a) "correct nonexistent "vertebral subluxations," (b) prevent "subluxation degeneration," and/or (c) modify spinal curvatures that are not causing problems or cannot be safely changed by manipulation.

You should ignore the "report of findings" provided by this chiropractor. If your symptoms persist, see an orthopedist for a definitive diagnosis. The orthopedist can refer you to a manual therapist or to a good chiropractor who can provide appropriate as-needed manipulative therapy if such treatment is indicated.

See "A Brief Look at a Subluxation-Based Practice-Building Script" for additional details.

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Dr. Homola is a second-generation chiropractor who has dedicated himself to defining the proper limits on chiropractic and to educating consumers and professionals about the field. His 1963 book Bonesetting, Chiropractic, and Cultism supported the appropriate use of spinal manipulation but renounced chiropractic dogma. His 1999 book Inside Chiropractic: A Patient's Guide provides an incisive look at chiropractic's history, benefits, and shortcomings. Now retired after 43 years of practice, he lives in Panama City, Florida.

This article was posted on March 29, 2015.