Chiropractic Subluxations at Marywood’s Wellness Fair

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As many of my readers know, I am not a person to shy away from controversy nor am I a person who will ‘back down’ or fail to share my take on a matter. In 2011, I had addressed claims made by a local chiropractor — Dan Golaszewski — and interviewed Dr. Steve Novella of Yale University to receive a professional expert opinion on Golaszewski’s claims. Because of this, I started receiving legal threats from Golaszewski’s fiancee’ for simply blogging about Golaszewski. Thinking that controversy regarding chiropractors was over, a new issue had come to my attention. I had discovered that the school I am attending invited a chiropractor who endorses the idea of subluxations to a campus health fair.

Earlier this week, I authored a letter that was sent to the person at Marywood University who was the listed contact for the “Celebrate Your Body Wellness Fair” in which I expressed my disappointment regarding Marywood University inviting a chiropractor, Glenn Czulada, who endorses the idea of vertebral subluxations. Interestingly enough, persons endorsing ideas of acupuncture and “energy medicine” were invited to a 2011 campus health fair. I attended the health fair and found some interesting claims in the literature at the chiropractor’s table that is also available, although in a slightly different format, online (and linked for your convenience).

One of the pamphlets distributed by Czulada, “Fibromyalgia,” reads,

The role of your doctor of chiropractic is to free you from a severe form of stress found in your spine: vertebral subluxations (VS). VS are distortions of your spine and body structure that stress your brain, spinal cord, nerves, joints, ligaments, muscles, internal organs and other tissues. Subluxations cause disturbed body function, loss of wholeness, lowered resistance to disease, lack of energy, loss of height and premature aging. […] Over a hundred years of clinical observations have revealed that vertebral subluxations can affect your physical and mental health.

The main problem with this is quite simple: there is no good reason to believe that vertebral subluxations exist. A conclusion for the study, linked on, reads,

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 had no valid clinical applicability.

I wonder where these “over a hundred years of clinical observations” are…especially considering a quite recent study utterly dismisses the concept of subluxations and no evidence suggests that the concept of subluxation is tenable. Chiropractic, anyway, has only been around for one hundred years and started from a supposed spiritual revelation of sorts, not scientific studies based on a “spirit and body” dualism that is quite untenable (and very unscientific). Check out Guide to Healthcare Schools for a list of fact-based health career options.
The “Fibromyalgia” pamphlet continues,

Your body’s natural healing ability had been documented to heal nearly any disease or condition. When your body is free from subluxations, your self-healing ability, your “inner healer,” is better able to deal with all your health problems, including fibromyalgia.” [emphasis mine]

What, exactly, is “the body’s natural healing ability” and the “inner healer?” The claims of the “inner healer/body’s natural healing ability” are quite high-reaching. Nearly any disease or condition? All your health problems?
Another of the pamphlets, “Accidents and Injuries,” states,

It must be emphasized that chiropractic is not against necessary medical care. In emergencies, all must be done to save life and limb. But after the medical doctors have done their work there is a pause. […] In that pause the real healing occurs. True healing is not done by doctors, stitches, gauze, drugs, and injections — it is performed by the wisdom of our miraculous bodies. It is as miraculous and mysterious as the miracle of birth where life is created and recreated.

I wonder, then, why persons would have to see a chiropractor if “true healing” “is performed by the wisdom of our miraculous bodies.” The pamphlet tries to explain,

It is the goal of all doctors to remove that which interferes with the normal expression of life and to create an environment that nurtures healing. That is why, when it is safe to do so, the body should receive the chiropractic care that it desperately needs.

It seems that the literature Czulada had distributed is trying to have it both ways…or perhaps otherwise invent an imaginary problem (the subluxation) and then give people the cure, of course, a la chiropractic.
The pamphlet continues,

Other post-accident problems, undoubtedly caused by subluxations, include asthma, bed-wetting, vomiting, loss of energy, incontinence, urinary tract infections, vision problems, blindness and even hyperactivity in children. All have been reported after traumatic events and have completely corrected following chiropractic care.

Persons should consider the popular phrase attributed to Carl Sagan, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” because these claims are quite extraordinary. Considering, also, the heuristic of Occam’s Razor which generally states that, all things being equal, the explanation with the least amount of entities should be the preferred one or, otherwise, that one need not multiply entities beyond necessity. If, for sake of argument, all of the mentioned problems were the results of post-accident problems, why believe that the subluxation “undoubtedly” causes these problems?
Perhaps the final refuge for the chiropractor may lie within the argument from ignorance; since there is no explanation for these symptoms after accidents, subluxations may be responsible. This, though, is quite a fallacious leap in logic. Just because something can’t be explained does not lead one to be justified in positing a responsible entity for it – especially when we don’t have evidence for the subluxations in the first place.
When I had questioned Czulada about some of the claims made in the pamphlets, he surprisingly said that he hardly uses the term subluxation. Additionally, he surprisingly noted that there is no evidence for subluxations…but went on to maintain that pain is subjective.
While persons may interpret pain differently and even if pain is, for the sake of argument, subjective, this doesn’t ‘save’ the idea of subluxations. I can maintain that there is no evidence for psychic healing, for example, and says that this phenomenon is subjective, but this doesn’t mean that my idea of psychic healing is warranted.
Czulada, although he might not use the word “subluxation” on his website, distributed literature using the term and describes what seems to be the same thing on his website,

“Spinal nerve interference can cause a variety of conditions that may be helped through Chiropractic. When our spines are misaligned and vital life energy is shut off by nerve impingment [sic], our bodies will sound an alarm.”

Isn’t using the phrase “spinal nerve interference” and noting that this “can cause a variety of rewards” very similar to mentioning a subluxation and describing a subluxation?

At one point in the discussion, Czulada maintained that chiropractic must have efficacy because people keep coming back to his office and report feeling better after appointments, but this is no good reason to believe that chiropractic has efficacy. All sorts of people, regardless of what the ‘treatment’ might be, report feeling better after sessions. Consider, for example, faith healers. Faith healers contend that they have divine powers bestowed by gods and that they can cure all sorts of illnesses by touching, for instance, foreheads. Since people who go to ‘revivals’ report feeling better, must we believe that faith healing has efficacy?One challenge for claims of chiropractors relating to sublaxations — and perhaps any practitioner who claims to heal people — is to separate the efficacy of treatment from the placebo effect. If this can’t be done — or otherwise that persons can’t demonstrate that a treatment is better than placebo — the treatment appears to be utterly worthless and those who would ‘prescribe placebo’ appear to be profoundly unethical.

It is also interesting that Czulada works with someone who endorses “non-needle acupuncture,” but that’s a post for another day…Hopefully, in the future, administrators at Marywood University or persons who are responsible for organizing health fairs will better consider who they are letting into health fairs and what kinds of information they want students to receive. Health fairs, on my estimation, should be about providing accurate science-based information to improve the health of students rather than permitting whomever and whatever for whatever reason.

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