Five reasons why junk science and pseudoscientific treatments cause real harm

We heavily emphasised evidence-based practice at Square One Active Recovery because we see the value of hard science. A lot of pain sufferers in Singapore don’t get better because the treatments they received are not congruent with best clinical practices.

It totally makes sense. If you do what doesn’t work, is it reasonable to expect yourself to get better?

Today we share with you five ways pseudoscientific cause real harm in your recovery journey.

Claims to treat root causes but largely only provide symptom alleviation

One of the big problems with pseudoscientific treatments is that they always claim to treat root causes. Despite the myriad of research looking at root causes of pain, we are not able to establish any clear cause-and-effect relationship.

Posture and pain? No.
Degeneration and pain? No.
Age and pain? No.
Strength and pain? No.
Alignment and pain? No.

We know a lot of the above examples are contributing factors to pain but yet they don’t actually cause pain on their own. For example, taking a long haul flight is probably going to make your neck aches and soreness worse. This is true. Posture can aggravate (or alleviate) your symptoms but on its own isn’t a cause of pain.

When it comes to other constructs such as the chiropractic vertebral subluxation complex, it is even worse because science has never been able to validate their existence.

The problem about treatments claiming to “cure” root causes when they are just alleviating symptoms is that they give patients a false sense of that they are well. This may lead them to behaviour that may further worsen their condition, and lead to poorer recovery outcomes.

Take for example an ankle sprain. You may decide to consult with a pseudoscientific chiropractor who may give your ankle a good yank for treatment. Following the yank, you start to feel a lot better and start returning to sport. Because symptom improvement is not recovery, your condition may not be at a state that could support running. You end up spraining your ankle again, and the cycle repeats.

Some doctors would ask you to avoid sport and physical activity indefinitely. This is also not aligned with best clinical practices. The problem with avoidance strategy is that your ankle will continue to deteriorate due to disuse. This is likely going increase your likelihood of future pain, and make your recovery even more challenging.

While placebo treatments on its own may be harmless, they often result in changes of behaviour and/or beliefs that can be detrimental for pain patients. When in doubt, seek professional advice from an evidence-based chiropractor.

Delays effective medical treatment

effective chiropractic treatment singapore
The more broscience treatments you choose the more likely your pain is to turn chronic There is real harm in choosing placebo or pseudoscientific treatments

Because placebo treatments are often associated with feeling better, a lot of patients then go ahead with their lives think they are cured. This false sense of security is problematic because they then stop seeking treatment for their problems, and this delay in seeking effective treatment usually prolongs your aches and pain.

At Square One Active Recovery, we exclusively only work with chronic cases. Some of the clients we have worked with have lived with their pain for over 20 years! Others have had received regular chiropractic adjustments for over 10 years without returning to the lifestyle that they once enjoyed.

Delaying effective treatment means your recovery is going to be prolonged. It could be months, years, or even decades.

An evidence-based approach allows us to filter through the noise and go straight to what is most likely to help your condition.

To be super clear, we are not suggesting you don’t feel better with placebo treatments. We are saying this pain relief does not constitute recovery, often gives patients a false sense of security, and ultimately lead to poorer recovery outcomes!

Is largely unregulated

Unfortunately for us in Singapore, chiropractic is unregulated. This means chiropractors in Singapore can do whatever they want without any oversight. This is problematic because they can make false claims without getting into trouble.

In many first world countries such as Australia, United States, Canada, chiropractic is regulated either as an allied health profession or a primary care healthcare provider. This is important because there is a strict guidelines that registered chiropractors have to follow. Following which, they may lose their licence to practice or have certain limitations slapped on their practice.

We think this is super important because it promotes better public health, and less pseudoscientific claims that ultimately harms patients.

Most of you would have seen the YouTube video of chiropractor Ian Rossborough. In his video, Muntathar Altaii was seen with back pain and an extreme kyphosis (forward rounding) of his lower back. His treatment of chiropractic adjustments looked extreme painful. Initially, it didn’t seem like he’s getting better. However, on his tenth day, he was standing almost entirely straight and his gait pattern appeared to be more normal.

It’s amazing right?

The problem with such claims is that they are often not verifiable, and also not replicable. In that sense, if someone else with the same condition was to walk into his clinic, will he be able to help them?

Probably not.

This is why regulation is important. Ian Rossborough posted a lot of video content on his YouTube channel. Most of which do not comply with Australian allied health regulation. As a result of this, he was banned from practising chiropractic.

Despite the benefits that come with regulation, Ministry of Health (Singapore) chose not to regulate chiropractic. As a result, many chiropractic clinics in Singapore advertised false claims, and often led pain patients away from effective, evidence-based treatments.

Fuels distrust of medicine

A lot of chiropractors will speak negatively about drugs and medication because they are temporary relief. They are not a true pain solution because the pain relief doesn’t last, and your pain will come back again.

If you think about it, spinal adjustments are no different. The relief is short-term and you’d have to go back again. But because of the narratives they used, they create a distrust of mainstream medicine.

We are not saying that painkillers work. In fact, clinical guidelines around the world have been clear that drugs like paracetamol and NSAIDs are ineffective for muscle and joint conditions such as low back pain.

The problem is that chiropractors and other critic of medication is that they don’t promote firstline treatments (aka treatments actually work such as exercise).

In fueling distrust of mainstream, evidence-based medicine, they push people away from treatments that actually work. Maybe you’d find it surprisingly, but what medicine is advocating for is not drugs and surgeries. It’s exercise, education, and advice to stay active.

Isn’t cheap.

chiropractic discount
Cheap is not always cheaper The initial cost for a chiropractic trial may very well be less than $30 However it can quickly balloon to a $3000 or even $10000 chiropractic package

Sure, you can get your first adjustments for less than $30. We know that. Yet these chiropractic treatment packages often racking up to five or ten thousand dollars. It doesn’t even end there. The worst part is that you would have to come back for regular spinal manipulation for the rest of your life.

While alternative treatments may seem cheap on the surface, the average spending is often a lot higher than mainstream, evidence-based care.

To pay more and take longer to achieve recovery, in our opinion, sounds like a poor treatment choice.

Evidence-based chiropractor in Singapore

As an evidence-based chiropractic clinic in Singapore, we do not offer chiropractic adjustments or any form of manipulative treatments in our clinic. A lot of people  find it curious. The reason is simple. It’s because spinal adjustment is not a long-term solution. If cracking your spine can lead to a meaningful recovery, why do traditional chiropractors expect you to continue with regular treatments for the rest of your life?

In our opinion, needing a lifetime of treatment is not recovery at all. For us, a full recovery is about you being able to live the life you desire without having to depend on anyone or any treatments. It is our responsibility as chiropractors to help you achieve that. This is why our clients speak highly of Square One Active Recovery, and how our empowerment-based approach truly made our own services redundant to them.

Our recovery programme follows an exercise, education, and lifestyle change format. With our unique approach, we are able to help our clients find freedom from pain. This means you can attain your recovery goals without needing regular treatments. This is aligned to best evidence practice, and also congruent to what chiropractic is about since its founding days.

In that sense, we are not reinventing the wheel.

chiropractic clinic singapore
Early chiropractic clinics come with exercise equipment from rowing machine treadmill machine machine to punching bags Physical rehabilitation and exercise is part of chiropractic for over a hundred years

No traditional chiropractors will tell you this: Exercise has been part of chiropractic since the very early days. Early chiropractors did involve exercise as part of their treatment. They didn’t depend on just adjustments alone. So, what we are doing at our practice is 100% part of chiropractic.

Yes, we we aware that few chiropractors in Singapore offer the same treatment as us. This makes sense. Afterall, chiropractic adjustments only take five minutes to deliver and your relief lasts for a few days or a couple of weeks at most. This means it’s good for business!

Chiropractors can see many patients in a day and their patients often have to keep coming back. No wonder so many chiropractors choose to focus on cracking spines!

No, we are not saying that you won’t get pain relief from getting your spine adjusted. We are saying it doesn’t last. We are also saying that there are better pain solutions.

With the latest research in health science, we starting to learn more about body, and what actually helps with recovery. Both doctors and pain patients alike would have to keep up in order to achieve good recovery outcomes. Yes, all of us have our own biases, beliefs, values. We are not denying that.

What we are saying is that, at some point, all of these have to go if we want good outcomes. We have to keep up with times. Especially if you are not getting better.

Have a think about it. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. What you need for extraordinary results is a radical change. This can start with the type of treatments you choose.

To find out more about how our approach to pain management can help you find freedom from pain, reach out to us via the contact form below.


Based in Singapore, Square One Active Recovery offers treatments with a very big difference. With our evidence-based exercise approach, you can achieve your recovery goals in just 12 weeks. Not getting results from your chiropractor, TCM doctor or physiotherapist? Talk to us and find out how we can take your recovery to the next level.

Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.

*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.

    author avatar
    Dr. Jesse Cai

    Jesse, a chiropractor with a unique approach, believes in empowering his clients to lead functional and fulfilling lives. Jesse worked with high-level Australian athletes, including roles such as Head Sport Trainer for Forrestfield Football Club, board member of Sports Chiropractic Australia, and member of Sports Medicine Australia.

    author avatar
    Dr. Jesse Cai Chiropractor
    Jesse, a chiropractor with a unique approach, believes in empowering his clients to lead functional and fulfilling lives. Jesse worked with high-level Australian athletes, including roles such as Head Sport Trainer for Forrestfield Football Club, board member of Sports Chiropractic Australia, and member of Sports Medicine Australia.
    author avatar
    Dr. Jesse Cai Chiropractor
    Jesse, a chiropractor with a unique approach, believes in empowering his clients to lead functional and fulfilling lives. Jesse worked with high-level Australian athletes, including roles such as Head Sport Trainer for Forrestfield Football Club, board member of Sports Chiropractic Australia, and member of Sports Medicine Australia.