From: N Z Med J. 2010 Apr 9;123(1312):36-44
Some chiropractors and their associations claim that chiropractic is effective for conditions that lack sound supporting evidence or scientific rationale. This study therefore sought to determine the frequency of World Wide Web claims of chiropractors and their associations to treat, asthma, headache, migraine, infant colic, colic, ear infection, earache, otitis media, neck pain, whiplash (not supported by sound evidence), and lower back pain (supported by some evidence).
A review of 200 chiropractor websites and 9 chiropractic associations’ World Wide Web claims in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States was conducted between 1 October 2008 and 26 November 2008. The outcome measure was claims (either direct or indirect) regarding the eight reviewed conditions, made in the context of chiropractic treatment.
The authors found evidence that 190 (95%) chiropractor websites made unsubstantiated claims regarding at least one of the conditions. When colic and infant colic data were collapsed into one heading, there was evidence that 76 (38%) chiropractor websites made unsubstantiated claims about all the conditions not supported by sound evidence. Fifty-six (28%) websites and 4 of the 9 (44%) associations made claims about lower back pain, whereas 179 (90%) websites and all 9 associations made unsubstantiated claims about headache, migraine. Unsubstantiated claims were made about asthma, ear infection, earache, otitis media, neck pain.
The majority of chiropractors and their associations in the English-speaking world seem to make therapeutic claims that are not supported by sound evidence, whilst only 28% of chiropractor websites promote lower back pain, which is supported by some evidence. The authors suggest the ubiquity of the unsubstantiated claims constitutes an ethical and public health issue.
It is unclear from the abstract of this article what “sound evidence” and “some evidence” is considered or based on. To make a statement that website claims by some chiropractors constitute an ethical and public health issue is a bold and biased opinion. The fact that medical professionals and their associates are absorbing chiropractic methods would indicate these claims are not an ethical and public health issue. Additionally, chiropractors have been practicing for more than 100 years without using medications or surgery. To state that there is no evidence to support the use of chiropractic methods for neck pain or whiplash is an ethical and public health issue. Current evidence supports the use of chiropractic methods for cervicogenic headache. Perhaps the entire article would prove more efficacious in defining “sound evidence” and “some evidence”, along with relating these claims as an ethical and public health issue, however, the conclusions reached by the authors based on 209 website claims (ubiquitous?) in 5 countries are certainly biased and their motivations should be questioned.
Based on the authors conclusions, I recommend that all chiropractic and association websites state, “We might help some lower back pain, but that’s it!” or “If your looking for sound evidence, try drugs and surgery”.