Chiropractic Research

Chiropractic Research gives vital clues as to the efficacy of manipulation; and some of the dangers associated with adjustments of the spine.

Iatrogenic complications are not unique to medicine; no branches of healthcare are immune to the dangers of making the condition worse.

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 9 April, 2023.

"I believe in evidence; in observation, measurement and reasoning which is confirmed by independent observers.

I'll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The more crazy something is, however, the firmer and solid the evidence will have to be."

- Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (1920-1992)

Murky science

Good research is utterly dependent on the integrity of the researchers. If they have an agenda before the onset of their studies, then they could even prove that the Earth is flat.

Just like politicians, crooked researchers partake in murky science[1] to prove their point. Mostly to validate some therapy has the appearance of being statistically outstanding, but sometimes said treatment is hogwash; and, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, they are still peddling it.

Neck pain treatment

Chiropractic Research gives both the patient and the doctor confidence. The effectiveness of manipulation is no longer folklore but is under-girded by hard scientific facts.

A summary of the findings of the Bone and Joint Decade's exhaustive research literature research came up with the following facts.

  1. About 10% of the population will experience disabling neck pain in any one twelve-month period.
  2. There is no evidence that degenerative arthritis in the neck is a risk factor for neck pain; that probably does not hold for radiating signs to the arms.
  3. Alternative health care including cervical adjustments appears to be more beneficial than "best" usual medical care and surgery.
  4. For a fuller summary go to: CHIROPRACTIC NECK PAIN TREATMENT[2][3]

Do you get relief of pain and tingling in the arm by raising your arm? It's called the SHOULDER ABDUCTION RELIEF sign[4].

Damn lies and statistics

Good science is utterly dependent on the integrity of the researcher and statistician.

Damn lies statistics can be used to twist the facts; don't take everything at face value and particularly distrust the "facts" on your food labels.

Does the DC belong in alternative or mainline health care?

Chiropractors have been at odds over this question, but a major consultation to address the question, has shown a clear mandate to their leaders to bring them into mainline health care system together with other "spinal care experts."

Adoption by the World Health Organization of the chiropractic term "neuro muscular skeletal" brings the medical classification system in line with the DC's notion of function and disability of joints.

In the early years there is no doubt that we failed to produce a reasonable volume of research. However, in the last 25 years, Chiropractic has an impressive record considering the absence of funding from the traditional sources that medicine enjoys.

There is now an international network of full time researchers, the depth of which can be assessed by reading journals such as Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, a chiropractic journal.

In addition many medical journals are accepting research done by chiropractors.

Medical Insurance and Lost Time savings

  • In the English town of Wilmslow, where the National Health Service (NHS) provided chiropractic services, an audit found that the service saved the NHS nearly $1000 per patient.
  • The Health and Safety Executive, established by the British Government, was given the task of reducing days lost from work by musculo-skeletal disorders by 30%. After intensive study they concluded that the professionals best placed to achieve this are chiropractors, osteopaths and musculo-skeletal physiotherapists.
  • Following a government sponsored pilot chiropractic research study in Norway which demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of chiropractic care, that country has announced direct state funding for DC's care.
  • The Norwegian government has also voted to support the formation of a chiropractic college.
  • A 2005 study by two insurance companies of 109,080 patients suffering from back pain clearly showed that inclusion of Chiropractic resulted in significant savings: $342 per patient for those consulting mainly DCs; vs $506 for those attending medical doctors. And, this excluded the costs of surgical and hospital care. Spine 30(12).
  • New research done at Harvard Medical School proved that "best medical care" is certainly not optimal. A randomised, controlled trial on 444 adults suffering from acute low back pain reports that patients who also received chiropractic, acupuncture or massage had significantly less pain at 5 weeks.
  • They also had a significant reduction in "worry," and were more likely to use the word "excellent" when asked about treatment satisfaction.
  • The authors conclude that good early results, combined with patient satisfaction and less worry translates into major benefits and less chronicity.
  • So impressed were Harvard University medical officials that they immediately included chiropractic benefits to their health care system. Spine 32(2): Eisenberg, Post etal (2007)


"In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual."

Galileo Galilei, 1564 - 1642


Anecdotes certainly do not constitute solid science but they do give some ideas for those after research proposal topics. I personally for example eight months ago suffered from a severe sequestered disc in the lower back; surgery was recommended.


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But of course, I decided to give chiropractic manipulation a one month trial to see if the severe thigh pain, numbness and weakness of the quadriceps muscle could be cured. This last weekend I climbed to 8600 feet up the Drakensberg mountains without the slightest problem from my back or leg; femoral nerve damage was cured.

But there is no research proving that chiropractic can cure a sequestered disc. This is an interesting anecdote but it has no scientific basis.

RATIONALE for Chiropractic therapy

The "adjustment". 

Basic science is now providing strong validation of how spinal fixations cause not only arthritis within the joints but increasing noxious stimulation of the spinal cord. Read more about the rationale for Chiropractic Therapy.

  • Type "immobilisation arthritis" into Site search in the main menu above; chronically subluxated joints rapidly degenerate.


Chiropractors know that their treatment is effective for 1001 conditions, but now the challenge is to prove it scientifically. RCT stands for Random Controlled Trials and, when double-blinded, the gold standard of research. 

World Health Organisation WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) released its first policy document in November 2005 on chiropractic health care to governmental health authorities of 192 member nations.

The intention was to, inter alia, encourage the development of chiropractic care in all national health systems.

Chronic and Acute Low Back Pain

"Spine" is one of the most esteemed medical journals.

Spine has reported that, in a randomized controlled trial or RCT of patients with chronic back and neck pain, after 9 weeks of Chiropractic treatment 27% were completely without discomfort. In comparison only 9% of patients who received acupuncture and a miserly 5% of patients who took prescribed medication were symptom free.

In another Spine research article Aure et al showed that in a group of 49 patients with chronic low back pain, preventing them from working, that 67% of those receiving manipulation were back at work after two months in comparison with 27% who received exercise only.

Spinal Manipulation is recommended in medical journals too.

A UCLA low back pain study published in Spine 30(19) found that: The fact that back pain patients have greater satisfaction if they choose chiropractic care is now beyond debate. This has been consistently demonstrated by observational studies and randomized trials.

A review, reported in the British Medical Journal (June 2006): Over 1000 randomized, controlled trials of all treatments for LBP have now provided a "greatly improved" foundation for manipulation in the evidence-based management of low back pain.

Their conclusion is that spinal manipulation is recommended for both acute and chronic LBP, and that all surgery except discectomies (in cases that have not responded to conservative management) should be avoided. Diagnosis and treatment of Low Back Pain - Koes, van Tulder and Thomas.

Exercise and Rehabilitation Chiropractic Research

  • Bronfort et al (Spine 2004) showed that a combined manipulation and exercise group had greater gains that the adjustment group alone.
  • Interesting research in Norway confirms that over 82% of patients with LBP are more than satisfied in the short term with chiropractic management.
  • However, in the long term, they were less satisfied indicating more research into rehabilitation and continuing care to prevent reoccurrence of the pain. JMPT 28
  • Spine (220): Dr Hartivsen (chiropractor) and Dr Christensen (medical doctor). A new study of 1387 pairs of Danish twins, aged 70+, confirms that a regular active lifestyle in seniors such as cycling, gardening and long walks, for example, significantly reduces the risk of older people developing back pain; gymnastics and dancing too.


Moller et al (Journal of Joint Surgery) found that smoking was the single most important risk factor for the development of postoperative complications. I know of no chiropractic research that would confirm this, but my experience in regard to our care absolutely endorses it.

Damaged tissues need all the nutrients they can get, and it has been proved that smoking reduces the oxygen carrying-capacity of blood by about 20%.

Other research on cadavers confirmed the blockage of the arteries of smokers which supply the lumbar spine with oxygen-rich blood, explaining why smokers have more back pain, and respond more poorly to all forms of treatment of LBP. 

Anti inflammatory drugs and memory loss

Medical research confirms what chiropractors already know; NSAIDs impair healing.

Elder et al (American Journal of Sports Medicine) found that anti-inflammatories such as Celebrex caused impaired ligament and bone healing. Worse still, some NSAIDs have anti-cholinergic side effects. They block the transfer of information from one nerve to another causing memory loss, foggy brain and blurred vision.

Read more about "anticholinergic side effects" by typing it into the Site Search engine in the main menu.


Much of the mystery has gone from enjoying a long and healthy life. Just a couple of walnuts every day, less than three helpings of red meat per week and no colas; the simple little things. 


How often it seems that "the establishment" pours scorn on startling and novel new ideas.

The new idea promulgated in 1895, for example, by Dr Daniel Palmer that the health of the spine has a vital impact on the whole of wellness.

Now consider this one; a top medical researcher is infecting his patients with weak immune systems with worms; and getting quite a lot of flack from the establishment. He thinks it might even be the cure for Multiple Sclerosis; we watch with interest.

Read about this startling new treatment at DISEASES OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM.


This casefile convinces me that the treatment of choice for rib conditions is indubitably Chiropractic. But then I'm also undoubtedly highly biased.


Researchers have found that there is a 400x greater chance of a dissection of the inner wall of an artery in the neck during the twelve months following a whiplash injury.

Because of the serious complications of this condition, manipulation of the neck following whiplash, even as long as twelve or more months, should be very carefully and gently done; or not at all if there are other comorbidities.


Chiropractic Education comes in two forms. Both involve a 5 to 6 year tertiary full-time programme of study.

  1. The first is a pre-chiropractic college education.
  2. The second an all-inclusive basic science and chiropractic college education.

Most institutes require two semesters of human dissection, a deep understanding of nutrition and an intensive radiological programme.

A dissertation is a requirement at the more advanced institutions.


  1. Murky science. Web:
  2. Neck pain treatment. Web:
  3. Treatment of Neck Pain: Noninvasive Interventions
  4. Shoulder Abduction Relief. Web:

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