Another victim of cult medicine

This is another one migrated from my old blog. It is the first in a series that generated an unusually large number of comments. Thanks, PalMD

This particular woo-encounter was non-fatal. A patient came to see me. He’s middle-aged, generally quite healthy, and physically active. After a recent return to physical activity, his elbow began to hurt, so rather than call his internist, he visited a chiropractor. Not surprisingly, the back-cracker was unable to effect a cure. What did he do next? Asked his friend for the name of a “better chiropractor” (which is a bit like trying to find a better wrench to turn a screw). This one took a totally different approach to not helping the patient, but that damned elbow still hurt.

Like most cult medicine, there is little that chiropractic will not claim as their own. How tennis elbow could possibly be helped by back manipulation is beyond me. One website did, however, give some good insight:

Not always thought of as a “chiropractic” condition by patients, chiropractic’s conservative approach to elbow pain is often very effective, avoiding more invasive, risky treatment options.

An excellent example of “hurry up and do nothing”, which is not always bad advice, but is not unique to chiropractic. I guess when all you have is a hammer, and nails are notably absent, a wise chiropractor steps back and says, “abra cadabra!” I’m sure chiropractic cures the common cold as well—whereas the common cold, when left untreated, usually lasts a week to a week and a half, visit the chiropractor and your cold is gone in 7-10 days.

Anyway, I gave the guy a tennis elbow strap, told him to rest and ice it, and take ibuprofen if he needed it. If he’s patient and follows my advice, he’ll probably save a few bucks. A strap is usually covered by insurance, but cheap anyway. Ice is basically free. And a visit to me is about sixty bucks—and if he gets better, he doesn’t have to return for multiple “manipulations”.