Is Chiropractic a Scam? | Are Chiropractors Legitimate?

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Are chiropractors legitimate? Is chiropractic a scam?

I must first say that there are some good ones who genuinely care about their patients, but generally speaking, and speaking from several decades of experience, chiropractic is a scam, and can cause more harm than good in the long run.

I guess the very same words would apply to doctors, too. But that is a separate topic.

I am going to present some chiropractor horror stories in this article, but again, it is not my intention to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and I will help you know how to begin to find a holistic chiropractor. And by the end of this article, hopefully you will know why you should!

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I was fortunate enough to find two legitimate chiropractors in my life, and they both not only gave me “homework” for when I left their offices, but also explained to me the intricate ins and outs of what they were doing to me, and why. And then they sent me off with preventative tasks to perform on my own, and habits to form to keep me from having to come back! These are certainly a couple very important signs of a legitimate chiropractor, which I will elaborate more on later.

Is Chiropractic a Scam?

Larke, who wrote our previous article, 10 Effective Natural Supplements For Back Pain Relief,  will also scream the praises from the rooftops of a chiropractor she had while living in Panama.

Overall, chiropractic is a scam (or has become a scam), and can be ultimately harmful. And my aim here will be to demonstrate this, without totally discrediting chiropractic as a whole, and with some personal chiropractic horror stories from real people.

And I’ll also provide some tips for finding a good chiropractor, who won’t just keep you on a hamster wheel for his/her own financial gains, further crippling you while he’s/she’s at it.

The Difference Between Chiropractic vs. Osteopathy

An osteopathic doctor might be the answer for you. The main difference between chiropractic vs. osteopathy is that where a chiropractor will focus on your musculoskeletal system, and “adjust” you, accordingly, they can not perform surgery or prescribe medications. I would consider this a positive thing, however, the tendency of chiropractors is very similar to that of medical doctors, which is to get you into a cycle of becoming dependent on them, which ultimately causes a lot of damage and unnecessary expense to you.

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Find a Holistic Chiropractor

Yes, there is such thing. Here is a website that will help you find a holistic chiropractor (or at least better understand why you would want to find a holistic chiropractor), if any exist where you live… if not, there is still some very helpful information on this site.find a holistic chiropractor

Holistic Chiropractor; What Does This Mean and Should I Care?

Here is one thing the author states (he is himself a holistic chiropractor):

“What does “holistic” mean, anyway? By doing a quick Google search, I found the medical definition: “characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease…

If your perception of a chiropractor is a ‘back doctor,’ then finding a holistic one would be necessary. However, as I said prior, it’s a moot point because chiropractors are trained to take the whole body into account.”

He goes on to make this interesting statement, in regard to non-holistic chiropractic treatment:

“…I will say we don’t do ourselves justice regarding standardization of practice!”

Signs of a Good Chiropractor

You should definitely avoid any chiropractor who makes you sign up for X-amount of sessions in advance, and one of the crucial signs of a good chiropractor is that they will teach you rehabilitative strategies to practice and habits to form when you are not in their office. If they don’t, RUN AWAY.  And fancy diplomas and credentials don’t mean a thing.

Another of the most critical signs of a good chiropractor is that he / she will also do a thorough assessment of your body and health before doing anything else. They will also provide a clear outline of whatever strategy they plan to take with you, and explain why he feels these things will benefit you.

And one more sign of a good chiropractor will be that he will suggest other methods or care-givers to you, if he feels they would be more beneficial. Of course, any honesty is always a good sign…

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Are Chiropractic Adjustments Addictive?

In essence, when you find a holistic chiropractor, you will avoid the confusion and unnecessary hassles of the “healthcare” market, and their tests and questionable procedures and treatments.

Finding a holistic chiropractor will also avert the cycle of “addictive” treatment that regular chiropractic counts on to thrive and earn 3 Billion dollars per year as a result of. If you do a search on this, you will find many websites that jump up and down denying this. I know–I waded through a bunch of them arriving at what clearly appears to be the overall truth of the matter.

You can and should decide for yourself, but if I can save you a lot of time and effort, I would implore you to visit the following website for some pretty astounding facts and statistics about the practice and origins of chiropractic:


Are There Chiropractic Health Benefits?

Can seeing chiropractors be beneficial?

Yes, many proper chiropractic health benefits do exist, if you suffer from certain issues, such as:

  • sciatica
  • tension headaches or migraines
  • high blood pressure
  • frozen shoulder
  • ear infections and cholic in children (but please don’t send small children to have their backs cracked!)
  • asthma
  • muscle and tissue inflammation

Of course, most of these issues are probably not caused by the need of a chiropractic adjustment, but separate underlying health issues. And again, good not-so-holistic chiropractors do exist. You just may have to really search, and know what you are searching for, and if you are still wondering if chiropractic is a scam, well… I wish it was that cut and dried. But as a rule, I would look into alternative chiropractic care, before even looking for a good “regular” chiropractor, which you may never find in wherever your neck of the woods may be.

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Having said all of that, now it is time for the fun part. Let’s look from a different perspective on whether or not chiropractic is a scam–where the rubber meets the road! Here are a few chiropractic horror stories from people who have experienced them.

By the way, if you have your own chiropractor horror stories that you would like to share, please do so in the comments at the bottom of the page. We would love to hear them.chiropractor horror stories

Chiropractor Horror Stories

  • (from a chiropractor) “Patient comes in with her BF who is a little irritated at being there. Turns out, a few years prior, he had gotten adjusted by some clown at The Joint and got a stroke – like immediately got up from table after getting his neck wrenched and slurs his words to the DC “What the hell did you do to me?” as he fell down/passed out.

Patient ends up doing great with treatment. BF sees this and decides to try it for his neck pain/stiffness. Does better. Faith restored in properly performed chiropractic.” –from a Reddit thread


  • “I am a chiropractic assistant for two years and believe 90% of chiropractic medicine is bunk. Tomorrow I quit.

I work as an office manager and CA for a very busy downtown chiropractic and massage center. I do insurance verification, billing, payment plans and SOAP notes. I am the only non-chiropractor/LMP in the office.

While I feel people who have perhaps been injured on the job or in a car accident do benefit from some adjustments or “manipulations of the spine”, our clinic has been trending more towards family care, and watching a 6 month old get “adjusted” makes me sick. Some of the comments I’ve heard made from some chiropractors (not just my own office, there’s a ton of seminars for these people I’ve been forced to go to) have completely disillusioned me.

There’s more to this story obviously, but I’ll take any questions to maybe clarify. Thanks!” Read the rest here

  • “I had a problem with a misaligned vertebrae in the middle of my back that was sometimes causing discomfort when sitting in a good posture, running, sitting in certain positions, and other minor things including numbness near the genital region.

The chiropractor at some shitty place in ST Louis laid me down on a table and tried to force the bone into alignment with his hand, and it wasn’t working.

Then he said he wanted to “relax the area” and rubbed this massager thing across my back, saying it would “give me some relief”. He tried one more time to force it into place, and it didn’t work. Then he gave me a new appointment for Friday and rushed out without explaining what he did or why he couldn’t get it.

My back was killing me all day from then on and causing numbness in the areas where the nerves from that spot lead to, which is basically everywhere in my upper body. It’s now 4:00AM and the swelling is so bad on that area that my entire back feels puffed up and uncomfortable. It is impossible to find a position to sit, stand, sleep, or anything.” Read the rest here

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And… One More Chiropractor Horror Story:

  • Please be careful with chiropractic. My story of over manipulation syndrome.

…The chiro then decided there were problems in my mid back and that’s why the adjustments weren’t holding. Skip ahead several months, I’m now having my entire back adjusted 1-2x a week and one day I wake up with more symptoms.

…My back had been forcefully manipulated so much, I had five rib heads just pop out of their attachment. My ligaments had been stretched and “popped” so often with such force that they were too lax to hold anything in place. My spinal ligaments were basically overstretched rubber bands….” Read the rest here

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David Letterman’s Top 10 Signs You’ve Gone to a Bad Chiropractor:

10. When you walk, you make a wacky accordion sound.

9.  Keeps saying, “A spine is like a box of chocolates.”

chiropractor horror story
Does this guy look like a witch doctor? Click the image to find out. He’s the guy who started it all.

8.  Repeatedly says, “You a cop? You sure you ain’t no cop?”

7.  Over and over, you hear crunching sounds followed by, “Uh-oh.”

6.  There’s a two-drink minimum.

5.  At end of session, lies down on the table and says, “My turn!”

4.  He was nowhere near Woodstock and yet he’s covered with mud.

3.  Rushes in late to your appointment still wearing his Burger King uniform.

2.  Hints that for an extra $50, he’ll “straighten” something else.

…And the number one sign you’ve gone to a bad chiropractor…

1.  You’re fully clothed and he’s naked.


Let Us Hear The Conclusion of the Whole Matter

Ultimately you will have to decide if chiropractic is a scam or not. But please leave your thoughts below. What do you think–is chiropractic a scam, or have you had good experiences with chiropractors? Are chiropractors legitimate, in general?

If you would like more information on osteopathy and the main difference between chiropractic vs. osteopathy, as well as some more subtle secondary differences between chiro and osteopathic manipulations, dig this website.

Again I will stress that this was not intended to be a witch hunt, and I hope I have adequately shown both sides. Are there chiropractic health benefits? Yes, there are. But it very likely may not be what you need. Consider other health issues which may underlie the symptoms you have come to believe are a result of musculoskeletal issues, as well as the possibility of not needing to be “cracked” where the solution might lie in the realm of osteopathic aid, physical therapy or other treatments.

The bottom line for me personally, if I weren’t myself? My advice would be to find my self a holistic chiropractor.

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8 thoughts on “Is Chiropractic a Scam? | Are Chiropractors Legitimate?”

  1. A few years ago I went to a chiropractor because I had some pain in my hip. He did an X-ray and determined that I had a minor case of scoliosis, which led to him finding that one of my legs was shorter than the other (by a few mm). He then gave me a little rubber slip to place under my heel in my shoe (to level out the difference in leg length). He told me I would have to wear it for the rest of my life (I am 27). I wore the slip for about 3 months and finally the pain dissipated. After a few months with little to no pain, it began to hurt again so I went to a family medicine doctor (MD) who got me an appointment with a physical therapist (PT).

    I started seeing a PT who taught me how to do some exercises to strengthen my gluteus minimus. The PT told me I did not need to wear the heel slip and after a few times doing the exercises, the pain went away. I’ve occasionally done these exercises for about 2 years and have not had any issue with my him since seeing the PT. I also haven’t worn the heel slip which was uncomfortable, destroyed the heels of my shoes, and I was supposed to “wear for the rest of my life.”

  2. Hi Joseph. Yes, it is getting harder and harder to not throw the baby out with the bathwater, to use a weird expression. I am very glad, as you suggested, that there are more and more people turning to naturopathic care.

    Well said on the rest too, and thanks for taking the time. Cheers!

  3. Thanks for sharing this. Like anything else, there are a few dedicated practitioners out there who take pride in their work and are in the profession to “serve” others. I agree that this is not always the case, and unfortunately not so in many cases. My uncle was a naturopathic physician at a time when they were not well known and given much credibility but he was dedicated and helped many others. On the other hand, I have met doctors of various disciplines, including psychiatrists with whom I worked in the mental health field that just went through the motions to earn a living. Thanks for sharing the signs of a good chiropractor as that will be helpful for many. I too have experienced the good and the not-so-good. Bottom line, a holistic chiropractor makes sense.

  4. If there is something wrong with your back, it is normally due to something you did or something you are doing wrong in the way you are moving. So if you can’t find the root cause of the condition, you are going to spend your life at the chiro and only get temporary relief.

    I totally agree with you, you need to find somebody who is vested in finding the cause of the pain and working at getting it better not just doing a temporary adjustment and hoping for the best.

  5. Fortunately I have not had the need for a chiropractor, but my perception of a chiropractor was indeed that he is a back doctor. Most of my knowledge of a chiropractor comes from my neighbor who was using a local chiropractor. But after each treatment, she seemed to have a different pain without the original problem really going away. 

    Horror stories do exist in every profession. Thankfully good chiropractors do exist, but as with each profession, you need to do your research and find a holistic chiropractor. 

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