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Table 6 Examples of Major Misleading Claims as They Appeared on Chiropractors’ Websitesa,b

From: At-risk advertising by Australian chiropractors and physiotherapists

Misleading Claim Category


Failure to mention adverse outcomes

1. There is ample evidence that chiropractic care is safe for children and NOT A SHRED of evidence that it is harmful or dangerous.

Misuse of the literature

1. In relation to the treatment of neck and back pain, studies have shown that a course of chiropractic care was 250 times safer than a course of anti-inflammatory drugs.c

2. Studies show that mothers under chiropractic care, delivering the first baby, have 25% reduced labour time in comparison to women without care and even 31% shorter labour time in case of pregnancy after the first child.d

3. An Australian study indicates that women consulting with chiropractors during pregnancy are less likely to require a caesarean section after onset of labour or to have a premature birth.e

4. chiropractic care may help with: asthma & allergies, reflux & colic, blood pressure & more. f

Webster technique or claims to affect positioning of an unborn foetus.

1. However, a realignment method, known as the Webster Technique, has a 92% success rate in optimal foetal positioning.

Making unsubstantiated claims.

1. If I had cancer or any illness, I’d rather remove my subluxations, so my nervous system is functioning at 100%. It would be many times worse if I had cancer and a nervous system that isn’t working well.

  1. Explanatory Notes:
  2. aThere were no Major Misleading Claims by physiotherapists
  3. bThese are direct quotes from chiropractors’ webpages
  4. cThis is a commonly seen overreach referenced to Dabbs et al. [52]. Dabbs et al. state “NSAIDs are the most common conventional first-line treatment for most musculoskeletal neck pain”. Dabbs et al. inappropriately reference this to Dillin’s 1992 [53] paper which focuses on the scientific design and concepts of drug management of cervical disk disorders in which steroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, narcotics, antidepressants and muscle relaxants were discussed. Nowhere in the Dillin paper does it state that NSAIDS are the most common conventional first line treatment for most musculoskeletal neck pain. Dabbs et al. confirm they were unable to find an estimate of the number of patients who are treated with NSAIDs specifically for neck pain of musculoskeletal origin but somehow conclude “This review of the literature found that NSAID treatment for neck pain has a significantly greater risk of serious complications or a death than the use of cervical manipulation”. The number 250 cited by many chiropractors never appears in the Dabbs et al. paper
  5. dThis is a common claim by chiropractors. The figures are referenced to one poorly conducted, uncontrolled and un-replicated study by J. Fallon reported in 2 publications in 1990 and 1991 [54, 55]
  6. eThis is an example of selective reporting. This is referenced to a paper highlighting the incidence of adverse birth outcomes and alternative medicine use by Steel et al. [56]. Although the chiropractor’s claim is accurate, important information was omitted. Steel et al. also noted: women under chiropractic care during pregnancy are more likely to experience emotional distress and are also more likely to have an instrumental childbirth
  7. fThis is an example of claims supported by out of date research. This claim is referenced to the Winsor Autopsies, published in 1921 [57]