Obituary: The death of the subluxation
It is with no sadness whatsoever, that the death of the chiropractic subluxation at the ripe old age of 115 has finally been declared.
The long-anticipated demise was announced this evening by Skeptic Barista and, indeed, there are grounds for believing that he played a very significant part in that death. It is rumoured that he will be helping the ASA with their enquiries, although he maintains there is not a jot of evidence to support those bogus allegations.
It died on Wednesday 12 May during a meeting of the General Chiropractic Council after suffering numerous assaults, particularly over the past 12 months and despite a rigorous wellness maintenance program.
All in vain, it seems.
The subluxation — more formally known as the vertebral subluxation (to distinguish it from its unconnected and distant cousin), but who also had many other aliases — had a long but chequered career. From its miraculous virgin birth to D D Palmer in 1895, it has been blamed for all human — and other animal — ailments. However, despite numerous customer satisfaction surveys by chiropractors and also proper studies, these vicious allegations proved to be completely unfounded.
One of the most thorough of these investigations (conducted mainly by chiropractors) concluded:
No supportive evidence is found for the chiropractic subluxation being associated with any disease process or of creating suboptimal health conditions requiring intervention. Regardless of popular appeal this leaves the subluxation construct in the realm of unsupported speculation. This lack of supportive evidence suggests the subluxation construct has no valid clinical applicability. (Source)
This experimental study demonstrates conclusively that the subluxation of a vertebra as defined by chiropractic—the exertion of pressure on a spinal nerve which by interfering with the planned expression of Innate Intelligence produces pathology—does not occur. This is what should be expected when one recognizes that the vertebral column has been evolving for over 400 million years to support the body and protect the central nervous system. By a process of natural selection the vertebral column of mammals has evolved into one in which the articulations allow an overall range of motion so that individuals may function well for survival within their environment. At the same time the selective process has favored vertebral columns that have spacious intervertebral foramina in combination with the barest minimum of displacement between adjacent vertebrae—two factors that preclude impingement upon the spinal nerves as they pass through the foramina. (Source)
This damning latter study was from 1973, but despite this major setback, the subluxation continued to provide very lucrative businesses for many chiropractors in the UK and abroad.
For many years, the subluxation continued to be touted by its followers as the root cause of medical conditions that only the skilled hands of a properly trained chiropractor could detect, locate and resolve, frequently requiring ongoing chiropractic ‘wellness’ and maintenance care to prevent recurrence. And wallet-lightening.
The only remedy for a subluxation was a course of:
…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. (Source)
It is of particular note that these specific adjustments never involved surgery or drugs.
The pinnacle of subluxation’s success was the setting up a decade ago of the General Chiropractic Council to try to regulate chiropractors. However, the divisions within the chiropractic trade are legion and at times it must have felt like they were herding cats. And probably still does.
Despite (or indeed because of) this success, there was to be a major setback and it came from an unexpected quarter: in retrospect, this was probably the beginning of the end.
After one of the guardians of the subluxation decided to sue Dr Simon Singh for an article he wrote about chiropractic, skeptical attention was focussed on the subluxation and the claims being made for it by its devoted followers. This resulted in an unprecedented number of complaints to the GCC after which, many of the claims miraculously and instantaneously disappeared from websites up and down the country. Since the wheels of regulation grind very slowly indeed (possibly due to a C2 subluxation), it has still to be decided whether these complaints will be upheld.
Despite the subluxation’s popularity (in some clinics at least) and monetary success, the ASA were not convinced of these achievements. Now, it seems, neither is the GCC. No more will chiropractors be allowed to blame the subluxation for musculoskeletal conditions (the Bronfort report has already taken care of the non-musculoskeletal conditions that many chiropractors claimed to be able to treat).
Many are now asking what possible future is in store, particularly for those hardest hit (in the pocket).
Although the mainstay of teaching in many of the chiropractic training establishments for over a century, the subluxation will now have to be relegated to the history lessons at these seats of learning. It is not known how the students will fill the empty 7 hours 59 minutes of their daily timetable. However, one source — who wished to remain anonymous — opined that they could always start by reading a certain book by Ernst and Singh.
Not surprisingly, few friends and colleagues of the subluxation were available for comment, but one wag was heard muttering that the subluxation had always been ‘spineless’. Another was heard to quip that there has never been a jot of evidence for the subluxation and that reports of its existence had been greatly exaggerated.
Since the subluxation cannot be found, there will be no burial or cremation. There will also be no memorial ceremony, but lots of weeping and gnashing of teeth is expected from some quarters as resurrection is attempted.
The subluxation is survived by an aura, two Bach flower remedies and a very dilute homeopathic potion of excrementum can.
The subluxation (1895–12 May 2010)