With the rise of back pain and neck pain in Singapore, people are starting to pay more attention to chiropractic. Is chiropractic adjustment effective? Should you consult with a chiropractor for your pain treatment?
Today, we share with you the four red flags of a chiropractic clinic. We highly recommend avoiding these clinics to ensure that you have the best quality of care.
Spend more time on “education video” and sales talk during the initial visit
You would have seen ads for a $38 or $48 trial on both Google and Facebook. These trials are deliberately made super attractive to entice you to make a booking with the chiropractic clinic. While there is nothing wrong with using discount as a marketing strategy, what happens during the trial is where the problem is.
During your initial session, you often would consult with a chiropractor who will assess your case. Following which, they would go through a presentation to explain in detail what will happen to you should you chose to not seek treatment. This is really a priming strategy. They want you to believe that your problem is truly terrible, and that you will never get better without them. You can expect fear mongering sales talk as well.
The highlight of the first session would be the final act when a consultant would come to you to try to hard sell their x-ray and chiropractic treatment packages to you.
These trials can last anything from 45 minutes to over 2 hours. The amount of time spent with the chiropractor to discuss your specific conditions is limited to 10 to 15 minutes. Most of the advice provided are generic that applies to everybody. Some examples are, your spine is out of alignment, you have interference in your spine that is affecting your nervous system. These narratives are used for 100% of the patients who walk through the doors.
The truth is that you are a unique person, and that such broad strokes advice is hardly beneficial for you. Sure, you do feel better after the chiropractic adjustments (the same set that everybody else in the clinic will receive). However, the results don’t last.
In our opinion, this doesn’t constitute allied healthcare. These clinics operate more as a chiropractic adjustment provider factory line.
It is no surprise their clients have to always keep coming back, and never truly achieve full recovery.
The chiropractor only adjusts you (and make you lie in sleek-looking machines)
Many chiropractic clinics in Singapore are open concept. These are great opportunities for you to observe what chiropractic treatments do their patients receive, and also how the treatments is performed.
Chiropractic treatments in Singapore are often short. You spend about five to ten minutes with a chiropractor to receive your adjustments, and off you go. Most of these chiropractors do not even follow up with how your recovery has been progressing, or if that you are feeling better.
In the event that you bring up that you are not getting the recovery outcomes you anticipate, they will chastise you for not being regular with your visits or that your condition is very jialat so will need more treatments to start feeling better.
Since we started raising awareness about chiropractic in Singapore, some chiropractors have started prolonging the duration of their treatment by adding low value modalities. Because the duration spent in the chiropractic clinic is longer (~60 minutes), people assume that they are getting more out of their treatments. Unfortunately, this is not true.
These machines do indeed look sleek and are often expensive. However, clinical guidelines do not support their use, and it is unlikely that they will improve your recovery. For more information, check out the expose CBC ran back on spinal decompression in 2010. They exposed a multi-clinic chain, which almost exclusively spinal decompression therapy, for offering low value treatment. From the segments, it’s clear why such modalities make good money for the clinic.
All of these aside, the problem is that these treatments are not first-line treatment for any musculoskeletal conditions. That means research doesn’t advocate them for all your joint pain, muscle aches and the likes.
Virtually all clinical guidelines recommend exercise, education, and advice to stay active as the best treatment approach to managing chronic pain. Yes, we can understand why some chiropractic clinics would want to continue offering second-line treatments such as spinal adjustments. However, we firmly believe exercise has to be part of the equation for you to be able to achieve a meaningful recovery.
Your chiropractor is ONLY concerned with fixing the “interferences” to your nervous system
A lot of chiropractors in Singapore work within a chiropractic subluxation framework. In their vertebral subluxation complex ideology (or dogma), they think that correction of these interferences to your nervous system is the cure to all diseases.
In fact, they genuinely believe that it could be the key to all health conditions that some chiropractors (even in Singapore) did advertise getting adjusted regularly as an effective strategy to reduce your chance of contracting COVID. We find these pseudoscientific ideologies absolutely abhorrent, and the greater chiropractic community had published articles to refute these claims.
The problem with the subluxation, in our opinion, is that chiropractors cannot consistently find them in an experiment setting or that the tools that are used are not validated to be reliable. If subluxations do exist, that similarly trained chiropractors should be able to agree on where in the spine they are found. We don’t see that this is possible. Similarly, the instruments used to detect subluxations are not consistent in their readings.
We don’t deny that chiropractors can be super passionate when they talk about subluxation. They are very good at defining what a subluxation is and what it means for patients if you should to not address them. This doesn’t make subluxations real!
For example, what is a white horse-looking animal with a horn on its head? That people often associate with rainbows or purity?
You probably guessed it right. It’s a unicorn.
Just because we can define a construct very clearly and that others can also recognise it, doesn’t mean unicorns do exist!
Your chiropractor doesn’t track your progress
We alluded to this earlier. Most chiropractors simply don’t check in on the progress you are making. Some may ask how you are coming along in your recovery. Most just use their magic hands to decide how close you are to complete healing.
The problem with professionals that use their hand to diagnose or assess conditions is that everyone has at least one problem. When is the last time you heard a chiropractor or massage therapist say a person’s body is working very well?
Like how chiropractors think everyone has a joint fixation, massage therapists will tell you about your tight muscles and knots.
So, there’s no real tracking of recovery outcomes. There is no objective measures, that you can check on your own, to show that you are getting better.
Some chiropractors do use x-rays to assess the progress their patients are having. The problem with this approach is that it’s junk science. American Chiropractic Association is clear on that x-rays do not improve recovery outcomes. As they so eloquently put it, as evidence expands, our practice must involve.
We do things differently at our practice. We promise you that all of our clients can see objective week-on-week improvements in their strength, mobility and range of motion, function, and many more! Majority of our clients will leave lifting more than they have ever done in their lives!
One of the upsides to using exercise as a recovery tool is that you don’t feel better because it’s a good day, because we have done something to your spine. You are better because your body is physically better than before you came. This is our we help our clients attain their recovery goals.
Chiropractic treatment in Singapore
Despite chiropractic’s popularity in Singapore, there is still a lot of bad press to the chiropractic industry. This comes as no surprise as majority of chiropractic treatments here do not conform to best evidence practice in the world. Nonetheless, not all chiropractors are like this.
At Square One Active Recovery, we use an evidence-based approach to help our clients find freedom from pain.
The research is clear, exercise plus education is superior to all other known modalities. We added lifestyle change coaching into our programmes to help our clients develop meaningful health habits, so they can stay physically health without having to keep coming back to us.
If you have been trying chiropractic but you are not getting results, we highly recommend that you reach out to us for a consultation. We will be happy to discuss why you are not getting better despite treatments.
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Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.
Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.