The GCC’s Bronfort report is starting to have an effect. And not before time.
The British Chiropractic Association removed their Happy Families leaflet from their website last year, but it is still on the websites of some chiropractors (for example Weston Chiropractic Clinic here (cached).
Over the intervening months, various chiropractors have removed loads of claims from their websites, with one of them even asking Skeptic Barista if he could check they had made the appropriate changes!
As part of the ongoing complaint process, I have received observations on my complaints from 290 chiropractors (so far) and some have included ‘before and after’ screenshots of their websites, showing what they have removed or changed. (Don’t worry, I intend to write about what’s been happening and what the current position of my complaints is very soon.)
Now, presumably as a result of the Bronfort report, the BCA have removed various statements from their website over the last few days.
This is odd.
The GCC have already told Martin Robbins that they only regulate individual chiropractors, not associations or clinics, so it would seem they can say whatever they like (even though anything claimed could be seen to be claims made on behalf of the BCA’s office bearers, if not the entire membership they claim to represent).
Anyway, what have the BCA removed?
Firstly, there is their page for health-care professionals. The bit that is now missing is a link to a pdf titled Chiropractic – Information for Healthcare Professionals, which included the text:
Chiropractors treat patients from newborn to the elderly and conditions suitable for chiropractic treatment include:
- Neck pain due to posterior joint and ligament strain with referred pain or paraesthesia. This might involve nerve root irritation which could be discogenic or related to degenerative spondylosis.
- Migraine of cervicogenic origin.
- Tension headaches due to dysfunction of the upper cervical spine and muscle spasm.
- Thoracic spine pain with involvement of the costo-vertebral joints which might also affect other body systems.
- Disc herniation with nerve root involvement, tension signs and even mild neurological deficits.
- Low back pain due to facet and sacro-iliac irritation, muscle strain, ligament sprains with associated muscle spasm and referred pain which might also affect other body systems.
- Nerve root irritation due to lateral spinal canal stenosis with degenerative changes, and even when there are signs of neurogenic claudication.
- Peripheral joint problems such as shoulder capsulitis and rotator cuff tendonitis, medial/lateral epicondylitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. These conditions present as local problems but can involve the cervical spine and may benefit from treatment of both areas.
- Knee ligament sprains and mild meniscal tears.
- Ankle injuries.
- Dysfunction of the joints of the hands and feet.
The pdf also listed a very small plethora of ‘evidence’ to support these — just eleven references, including a couple of reports and an odd trial.
Secondly, on their What is Chiropractic? page, a link to the same pdf and the following text have disappeared:
The conditions which chiropractors treat range from low back pain, with or without nerve root irritation, to posterior joint strains in the neck which might also involve the nerve roots if there are spondylotic changes or disc protrustion. Also tension headaches and benign transient positional vertigo or dizziness due to an upset of proprioception in the posterior joints of the cervical spine. Rib strains and various peripheral joint disorders – adhesive capsulitis, rotator cuff tendinitis and lateral epicondylitis as well as problems with the joints of the hands and feet.
As they say, it is left as an exercise for the reader to compare these conditions with the conclusions of the (albeit flawed) Bronfort report.
It’ll be interesting to see if they make any further deletions or replace the pdf.
The What is Chiropractic? page I mentioned earlier still says the following:
Chiropractors treat problems with joints, bones and muscles, and the effects they have on the nervous system. Working on all the joints of the body, concentrating particularly on the spine, they use their hands to make often gentle, specific adjustments (the chiropractic word for manipulation) to improve the efficiency of the nervous system and release the body’s natural healing ability.
This would appear not to be consistent with ASA guidance. In my complaint about an advert by Discover Chiropractic, the ASA stated:
This also applies to the claim that chiropractic is able to improve the function of the spine and nervous system, so we would expect the advertisers to also remove this claim.
So why then are they making a virtually identical claim? Have they not checked with the ASA’s Copy Advice Team?
Finally, it’s worth repeating: Bronfort conducted no new trials. All he and his team did was to review evidence that was already out there and that is something that could — and should — have been done a long time ago.