T Nation

Should I Listen To My Chiropractor?


This is my first post to T-Nation. I am a 27 year old male, 5'9", 188 lbs, about 15% bodyfat. I have been training about 5 years.

I recently visited a chiropractor. I am not injured nor do I have any pain. I went simply for a check-up. She did, however, discover some problems, including some scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and a subluxation (misalignment) in the mid-spine and neck.

She recommended a treatment plan, but also recommended I not do any weight training involving the back or shoulders for 90 days time. She said it would interfere with the treatment and possibly slow down the progress.

Seeing as how I am not injured now, nor feeling any pain, should I take her recommendation seriously?

I appreciate your comments.


doctors are like mechanics. not every mechanic knows what the fuck they are talking about. it's a hit and miss thing, besides if you have many problems, you will be a patient for life. when a mechanic tells you you need major work, don't you take it for a second opinion? get another opinion, don't mention anything the first mechan.. uh i mean doctor told you. see if you get the same result.

i don't trust any doctor's, one of them told my mom she had only a mole. and said she should just go home. turn's out it is advanced melanoma. it was not a real problem then, now she is terminal. if i ever cross paths with that doc. he is as good as dead. i give my you my word. unfortunately she lives in alaska, so i can't get to him. i guess she is going to sue him for malpractice, according to the advice of her lawyer. doctors are guess work idiot's, for the most part. although there are some great ones, they are greatly out numbered. sorry for the downer. just get a second opinion, at least.


The program probably involves you going 3 times a week for the rest of your life. That is what chiropractors do.

How did she find out you had scoliosis? Did this person just use her hands. Nobody has perfect alignment of anything including your arms, legs, spine, etc. Go to an orthopedic surgeon or osteopathic doctor and get a pelvic x-ray which will tell you if you have a serious scoliosis problem.

I've gone to several chiros in my life and I only trust one of them. He did A.R.T. and was an actuall athlete. Most of them either have crazy beliefs or are schisters. I had this one guy who had me hold a vile of some liquid while he made his adjustments and that was supposed to make my organs healthy. Another pointed a lazer at the back of my head and made me make different facial expressions, I felt like someone was playing a prank on me. Lets just say there aren't to many chiros I will ever trust.


i would take the advice with a grain of salt. if you're not in pain then why stop working out, but you should also probably go to another chiro, and see what he/she says, whatever you have going on could become a problem later on. personally i would get a second opinion and also email or pm Dr. Ryan on this site.


Something to consider...

"There have been no well-designed published clinical studies (including case studies) in peer-reviewed journals on subluxation and adjustment of the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine."


Christopher Good, D.C., M.A. (Ed) and Gerard Rosney, B.Sc., D.C. (candidate)

Introduction: The Chiropractic profession has provided patient care for the detection and
removal of vertebral subluxations since DD Palmer's landmark adjustment over 100 years ago.
Yet despite the growing acceptance of the profession, it is still claimed that little published
research evidence exists that establishes the "chiropractic subluxation" as a valid or significant
clinical entity (1,2, 3). Additionally, the word subluxation has been defined in many different
ways by various health care professions and this has led to much confusion and disagreement (4,
5). And given that only 16-23% of the population seek the services of a chiropractor (6), the
public as well as other health care professions, governmental agencies and insurance companies
do not appear to fully acknowledge the clinical importance of subluxation.

The objectives of this investigation were to review the literature in regards to the use of
the term subluxation, review the literature in regards to the clinical evidence concerning the
validity of subluxation, and if warranted, establish a research protocol to study subluxation in a
clinical setting.

Methods: A literature search was performed utilizing the words subluxation, joint dysfunction,
joint pain, manipulation, clinical studies and case studies that involved the Index Medicus and
MANTIS databases and a chiropractic library. A review was then done to determine the number
and quality of studies specifically related to the treatment of subluxation in a clinical setting. A
second literature review examined common patient outcome measures for spinal pain and
disability. A final literature review was performed to determine which valid and reliable
subluxation analysis methods exist. The above information was utilized to determine a specific
research protocol to study subluxation in a clinical environment.

Results: It is clear that US chiropractors want to retain the term vertebral subluxation complex,
and that they educate their patients about subluxation (7). A consensus project established the
term "subluxation syndrome" as the clinical entity that chiropractors treat (8) and attempts have
been made to further classify spinal subluxation syndromes in order to facilitate clinical
investigation and understanding (Table 1) (4).

There have been no well-designed published clinical studies (including case studies) in
peer-reviewed journals on subluxation and adjustment of the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine.

However, there are at least 73 randomized clinical trials related to spinal pain or headaches and
treatment by manipulation (9).

Quality outcome measures that measure spinal pain and disability do exist, especially in
regards to patient questionnaires, some orthopedic tests and digital algometers. There are a
number of commonly used subluxation analysis methods, yet none have good interexaminer
reliability, while some appear to have fair to good intraexaminer reliability (10,11).

Discussion: "Subluxation syndrome" seems the most suitable term/concept to utilize in clinical
investigations as it allows the systematic categorization of subluxations by region of the spine
and by well-established signs and symptoms. Given the scarcity of clinical studies, a well-
designed protocol for studying patients with subluxation syndromes should be developed and
implemented, but development of reliable and valid subluxation analysis methods would have to
occur. Subluxation analysis findings could then be monitored in conjunction with changes in
valid and reliable clinical outcome measures; this would begin to validate various subluxation
syndromes as real clinical entities that are important to treat.

While large randomized clinical trials provide the greatest level of clinical evidence, the
best initial investigations appear to involve a time series case study format (12, 13). Outcome
measures utilized would include active range of motion, pressure algometry, pain rating scales
and an impairment questionnaire such as the Bournemouth Questionnaire for neck pain patients
(14). Subluxation analysis tools would include static palpation for misalignment and pain,
passive osteokinematic motion palpation, joint endfeel challenge with patient input, postural
analysis and x-ray analysis (if films were clinically indicated).

Conclusion: There is a paucity of published clinical evidence in regards to subluxation
syndromes and a series of well-designed case studies would be an important contribution to the
literature. Establishing subluxation syndromes as significant clinical entities that respond well to
manipulative adjustments may well impact the future health care of society as well as the future
of the chiropractic profession.

2004 International Research and Philosophy Symposium: A Conference on Vertebral Subluxation



A good chiro is worthwhile if you actually have some problems. Most people have some bend or something but if it is not causing you problems, it is not a problem.

Some conditions might be headed the way of fusing bones though, but since she didn't say that, it is not a problem. I've known people who had their neck on the way to fusing who had chiro treatment which also relieved other conditions somewhat.

Chiro will want you coming back endlessly forever.

If you do have an actual problem, a good chiro can do wonders.

But since you have no problems, I think laying off for 3 months is gonna cause more problems than the chiro will fix.


There are good ones and bad ones. If she is also PT certified, she is worth listening to. Anyone who makes blanket statements about lifting or anything else should be viewed with suspicion, regardless of their diplomas and other wallpaper.


Interesting scenario...

First, a bit of scoliosis in our spines is more the rule than the exception. The things to ask about a scoliosis are:
1) What type of scoliosis is it and what's causing it? (There are several potential causes.)
2) Is it leading to symptoms or functional limitations?
3) Is it severe enough to likely lead to future problems? (Based on your age, it is not likely that the scoliosis is of the type that will continue to progress significantly.)
4) Based on the answers to the questions above, can it or should it be changed?

As far as the presence of "subluxations", there are a lot of differing views on whether or not this type of entity even exists. Personally, I wouldn't want to be manipulated (especially through the cervical spine) unless it were to specifically address a stiff joint and not just an attempt to "put something back in place".

As far as training goes, if your program is balanced and you are not having any difficulties, why stop? If you are concerned about possible muscle imbalances and want to better insulate yourself against injury, you might want to check out some of the articles from Mike Robertson and Eric Cressey on this site.

Hope this helps.

All the best.


That is pretty stupid to compare a chiropractor or any doctor to a mechanic. Chiropractors go pre-med undergrad (4 years) and spend usually 3 plus years studying their ass off full time to get their degree, similar to med school for doctors who do probably triple the time when you combine residencies etc.
Most are pro's at what they do, however, many will let their bias towards things like weightlifting get in the way of their vast knowledge, this happens with every profession though.
Multiple opinions on an issue are always the best way to go.


Ask her if it's a functional or structural scoliosis. If she says functional (and continues to advocate avoiding exercise), leave. If she looks at you with puzzled expression, leave.

If it's functional, an educated coach will know how to use training to correct the problem.

My hunch is that she's just trying to draw you in for more treatments, so take anything she says with a grain of salt.


I remember my biomechanics teacher talking about the same thing. He pulled out a model of a spine, and said "I'd like to know how the vertebrae would be subluxed" or something like that.

thanks for the info


Thanks for all the comments. Y'all have been very helpful. I'll check out the articles mentioned as well as prepare some more questions for her.

I just wanted to clarify some points. She did take many X-rays of my spine and neck. I've never had that many X-rays in my life. The most problem area is in my neck. On the X-ray, I could see two vertebrae in my neck which were touching each other, bone against bone. I guess this is one of the "subluxations" she is talking about. When I look at a "normal" X-ray, I can clearly see mine is different. I can actually hear a grinding sound in my neck when I move my head side to side. This doesn't cause pain, it just makes a sound. However, what intrigued me was she said this could affect the range of motion of the surrounding muscles, so that is my interest for pursuing this; to increase range of motion and help avoid imbalances.


First of all, since I have neither seen your X-rays or examined you, I will not pass judgment on her diagnosis. However, there is absolutely no reason that you can not work out. From what you have said and the fact that there is no pain, there does no appear to be any problem that would cause exercise to be contraindicated. If there is a significant scoliosis, a high amount of axial loading (heavy squats, heavy shrugs, heavy OH presses or heavy calf raises are a few examples). Of course if you had a significant scoliosis you would have most likely have known about it before now.

A properly designed training program would actually help improve posture and help with the problem, whereas an improperly designed program definitely could be a contributing or complicating factor. Most of my patients are given stretches/postural relief exercises and ADL instruction from the beginning and they are given rehab exercises if indicated as quickly as I can get them on them.

Also, if the X-rays showed bone-on-bone, that is more than a 'subluxation'
I actually don't like that word as it has created confusion between chiropractors and MD's/PT's because it doesn't mean the same thing to both groups. I never use that word in my practice because of this.

In my opinion, docs that only adjust the spine and do not address the muscular component with therapy/RH and do not teach their patients how to avoid placing undo strain on the areas by modifiying daily activities, are not doing everything they can to help the patient. It places an over-reliance on the doc. However, this is no different than the docs that just prescibe pain meds/anti-infl/muscle relaxants etc without referring the patient for more comprehensive treatment.

Many of the docs that just adjust and do not do much other therapy or RH, do so because they believe that frequent adjusting will eventually give the desired result. This is more of a philosophical issue and not a result of them being bad people or not wanting the best for their patients.

While I don't agree with that approach, many people have been helped by these docs. Unfortunately, I have to constantly fight against the perception that all chiropractors over-treat patients...yada...yada. Many people, as is evident by several of the posts on this thread, equate a bad chiropractor to be representative of the entire profession, yet if they go to a bad MD, it is just a bad MD and not representative of the whole profession.

I will be the first person to say that there are chiropractors that I would love to strangle because they do nothing but give the profession a bad name and cause me to have to fight that much harder. However, this is true of every profession. The profession should not be judged based on these individuals.

If you have any further questions, please let me know. Feel free to PM me as well.


I thought chiropractors aren't even in a real medical field are they? It's like 'alternative' medicine...


you might be too stupid to make the connection then my friend. with mechanics and doctors the initial treatment is usually a hit or miss, like fix one leak and we will se if another comes to light. vast knowledge my ass. vast knowledge. hahaha thats a good one. i would say maybe one in every thousand doctors, might qualify for having "vast knowledge".

the rest were just trained in foriegn countries, like mexico, or the bahamas, or the phillapines, or whatever poorly regulated country you can think of. the rest of the doctors, don't work with hmo's, or medical, not enough money. take everything these jokers tell you with two grains of salt.

just out of curiosity, how many people here know somebody who has suffered at the hands of an inept doctor? ex: wrong body part operated on, mis- diagnosed terminal cancer, left surgical equipment/hardware in the patient. these are just my family members, and my family is of enough wealth to see the "finest" doctors. doctors are idiot's for the most part. sorry to offend most of you, and if you are a doctor, and you disagree i have sad news for you, you are the idiot i speak of.

i don't have anything else to add. i don't give a mad fuck about anybody's opinion on why i am wrong, because i am not and you will NEVER change my mind. just because you sat through med school and can turn in homework, and quote shit from medical book's, which i am sure you had to go get anyways. does not mean you have "vast knowledge" it's not something you get from 7 years of school. it's something you get from 50 years of experience. i know this and i am no doctor. but i play one on t.v. :wink:


I have to say, I was very skeptical when I first visited, but the two adjustments she did created some soreness where I have never had soreness before, such as in the middle of the back. Her interpretation of this was that the muscles in that area of the back have not been fully used in a long time due to the misalignments in the spine. These adjustments were followed up with deep massage therapy as well. I did feel much better after the visit.

I appreciate you all's warnings about chiropractors overtreating patients. However, since almost all the visits she prescribed are covered fully by my insurance, I will continue. It's funny that 100% of drugs and surgery is covered by most insurance plans, but if you are already healthy and doing something to get even more healthy, the most insurance plans fall short.

I agree with the comments here that working out properly should not hurt but only help the process. My chiropractor is a female, about 5'8" 120 lbs. so it is doubtful she has ever picked anything up heavier than her med school textbooks, so I am more inclined to dismiss her recommendation not to train as just a personal bias.


This is my experience exactly. You may have found a good one.

Exactly right. No one knows everything.


That's always been my understanding of it. chiropractors are not doctors and I don't believe they are a part of the AMA.

These may be helpful.




First, get as far away from the chiropractor as possible. See an orthopedic doctor. Have him perform an x-ray or possibly an MRI if he/she see's necessary. If he/she see's a problem, then try to find a reputable physical therapist and have them start you on an exercise program to address any problems you might have or may have in the future.
I am not a fan of Chiropractors because most simply want to perform "adjustments" on people. This may give some relief for a while but it does not address the issues causing the problem. Malalignments could be due to flexibility, muscular strength deficits or muscle imbalances. I think a lot of chiro's don't look deep enough into an injury and try to determine what is causing the problem. It does not make them money if they fix you and give you a home exercise program and you never have to return to their practice again. Please, don't get me wrong I am sure there are some decent Chiro's out there but I don't agree with alway's wanting to "adjust" people.
Adjustments can feel great because they cause endorphens to be released. However, constantly adjusting someone's spinal column can lead to laxity in the ligaments that hold the vertebrae together. That's why I prefer flexibility and strengthening programs.
Look for a solution that fixes the variables leading to the injury. Don't just mask the contributing factors with some sham treatment.

If you have a hole in your floor, sure you can throw a carpet over it and cover it up, but it doesn't fix the damn thing.


I would like to commend you. You aren't afraid to put your ignorance (Ignorance and stupidity are not the same thing)up on a pedestal for everyone to see. You wear it proudly and you have to respect a guy for that.

First of all, chiropractors are doctors, they are not medical doctors. Therefore, they are not regulated by the AMA. There are many different types of doctors.

Not surprisingly, you pulled up the two most chiropractic discriminating sites available. Both of which Steven Barrett is involved in. He actually got exposed himself a couple years ago.

If you would like more information try:

www.amerchiro.org or you can check out
www.txchiro.edu and click through to find the curriculum.

Now you may choose to read through those sites and become more informed and therefore less ignorant on the subject or you can choose to remain ignorant. Most people who are prejudiced and discriminatory find that remaining ignorant works better for them.

My practice actually gets at least a third of our patients from referrals from medical doctors. These are orthopedists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, general practitioners, internists, you name it. Fortunately they have enough confidence in me as a doctor to refer their patients to me. At the end of the day, it really comes down to the patients and getting them better. I can tell you firsthand that when you have a patient look you in the eye, shake your hand and say, 'Thanks for giving me my life back', it really makes all the ignorant comments such as yours seem pretty damn insignificant.

Take care,