Monday, 14 April 2014

Let's hear it for Chiropractic Awareness Week

Could you sue this man?
I mean, look at that smile!
Yes, folks, it's Chiropractic Awareness week, that time of year when we are all asked to give a thought to our local chiropractors and their chiropractices. And what better chiropractic activity to give some thought to than the British Chiropractic Association's (BCA) legal attack on Simon Singh.

In case you don't remember, back in 2008, around this time of year, Singh, one of the UK's leading popular science writers, contributed a piece to the Guardian entitled Beware the spinal trap. In it he described the odd origins of chiropractic and the assorted ailments that have been claimed to be cured by this spinal manipulation, including 'children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying'. Singh asserted that the BCA 'is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.'

He then described the various proper clinical trials that have been done to show whether or not chiropractic produced the benefits concerned, and also described the studies that have showed adverse side effects - some very serious - individuals have suffered as a result of being a chiropractic patient.

Singh ended up with the telling remark 'Bearing all of this in mind, I will leave you with one message for Chiropractic Awareness Week - if spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost certainly have been taken off the market.'

As a result of Singh's use of the word 'bogus', the BCA made a legal complaint that resulted in a two year lawsuit. In the end Singh was vindicated - but he lost two years of his working life in this process and went through a very painful experience.

As a result of the judgements received, the BCA withdrew its libel action against Singh, and his original article was reinstated in all its glory: you can read it here, and treasure the wonder of free speech.

So there we have it, for Chiropractic Awareness Week. I trust that anyone who decides to make use of a chiropractor reads Singh's article first. Because there is certainly some material there that is worthy of serious thought.

Image by Richardc39 from Wikipedia

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