Remarkably, chiropractors in New Zealand are risking further damage to their reputation. Having used legal muscle rather than evidence to respond to criticism in The Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association [PDF], the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association has laid a complaint with the Broadcasting Standards Authority about comments made by a doctor named Shaun Holt.
Apparently, “Dr Holt landed TVNZ in hot water for comments he made on 8 March about evidence for the effectiveness of chiropracty. Chiropractor Doug Blackbourn responded to his comments the next morning on Breakfast.” (New Zealand Doctor Online)
The reason for the hostile responses seems to be Dr Holt’s decision to criticise chiropractors for (allegedly) claiming to treat childhood asthma and ear infections. Chiropractor Doug Blackbourn responded the following morning by denying that chiropractors make claims such as those criticised by Dr Holt.
The New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association, on its website, claims that:
Chiropractic is not a ‘treatment’ as such for any particular symptom or disease, but rather a method of helping to ensure optimal joint function and nerve communication and is thus able to effectively assist the body in healing a wide array of symptoms and conditions.
I wonder what this “wide array of symptoms and conditions” encompasses? Well, let’s see shall we?
A smaller number of clinical trials alongside other preliminary studies, case reports and anecdotal evidence show that chiropractic may be effective in many different conditions such as colic, ear infection and other paediatric issues, HIV and immune problems, asthma, multiple sclerosis and other nervous system disorders, infertility issues, digestive and cardiovascular health etc. [from "Research and Literature: Examining The Evidence", http://www.chiropractic.org.nz/research-literature; New Zealand Chiropractors 1 PDF]
Many people find they have more energy, sleep better, have greater concentration and focus, are more productive, and have a greater ability to resist disease. We often see this improvement in children with chronic or recurrent ear infections. Other people find that their asthma, headaches, back or neck pain, shoulder, arm or leg symptoms significantly diminish or disappear entirely [from "What To Expect: Chiropractic Results", http://www.chiropractic.org.nz/Results; New Zealand Chiropractors 2 PDF]
Obviously, Dr Holt was wrong to suggest that chiropractors claim to treat childhood ear infections and asthma. The NZCA website makes it absolutely clear that chiropractic does not treat these conditions by, um, listing them both on their research page and on their page that tells clients what to expect from chiropractic. Err…
EDIT 19.45 16/06/2009: I checked the NZCA database of chiropractors and the first name on the list for the top district was Dr Neil Bossenger of Auckland Central district. Here’s something from his website:
We have supported adults and children with headaches and migraines, dizziness and ringing ears, high blood pressure, stress related issues, sleeplessness, chronic pain, depression, allergies, eczema, asthma, epilepsy, autism, chronic fatigue, eyesight trouble, learning disorders, emotional instability and more. [...] Established in 1998, Spinewave Wellness Centre is a specialised chiropractic practice that cares for infants, children, adults, and clients with special needs such as autism, epilepsy, learning disorders, attention disorders, asthma and depression, for example. [...] In our practice, we see clients with a variety of health problems respond very favourably to chiropractic care. Many even recover from conditions they didn’t actually come in for.
I was also interested to see that he is described as Dr Neil Bossenger on the NZCA database and as Dr Neil Bossenger, Chiropractor on his own website. I assume that he is a medical doctor who is also a chiropractor. (I note that in parts of his website he is described simply as “Dr Neil Bossenger”.) Link: http://spinewave.co.nz/; PDF: Spinewave Wellness Centre 1.