Chiropractic – the clown deception

D.D. Palmer

Chiropractic was founded in 1895 by a circus performer named DD Palmer.  His con at the time was magnetic healing.  He found his real calling in taking advantage of the sick and desperate by promising to cure them of “subluxation” through adjustments of the spine.  It didn’t work then as it doesn’t work now.

Palmer was a proponent of pseudoscience (pseudo means false) and opposed anything he thought was associated with mainstream medicine,  such as vaccinations (Busse, Morgan, & Campbell, 2005).  Palmer was selling the idea that manual manipulation of the spine could cure disease.  He tested his theory in the free market rather than using any scientific methodology.  If it paid it was proven to work, safety was not a concern.  Not much has changed.  When science backed medical professionals pushed back, Palmer considered declaring Chiropractic a religion, comparing himself to Christ, Mohammed, and Martin Luther.  He was to be the head of this new religion.  Despite his efforts he never reached the stature of Jesus and the con never became a religion.

Early chiropractors pushed the theory that all disease was caused by interruptions in the flow of innate intelligence, a vitalistic nervous energy or life force that represented God’s presence in man; D.D. Palmer said he “received chiropractic from the other world” (Palmer, 1911). Whether they believed it or not it was canon.

The consensus here at ChiroFraud is that DD Palmer was no Jesus Christ, Mohammed or Martin Luther.  He looked more like a homeless Santa Claus and we are grateful the early chirofraud practitioners for not going along with this.  

It took time to con enough people to gain the acceptance they have today.  He deserves credit for the effort, afterall it wasn’t that Palmer’s act went  unnoticed during his time.

A crank on magnetism has a crazy notion that he can cure the sick and crippled with his magnetic hands. His victims are the weak-minded, ignorant and superstitious, those foolish people who have been sick for years and have become tired of the regular physician and want health by the short-cut method … he has certainly profited by the ignorance of his victims … His increase in business shows what can be done in Davenport, even by a quack” (Colquhoun, 2008)

Chiropractic Contribution to Public Health

“It is the very height of absurdity to strive to ‘protect’ any person from smallpox or any other malady by inoculating them with a filthy animal poison.” –– D.D. Palmer (Busse, Morgan, & Campbell, 2005)

Most chiropractic writings on vaccination focus on its negative aspects (Busse, Morgan, & Campbell, 2005),  claiming that it is hazardous, ineffective, and unnecessary (Johnson, et al., 2008).  This fact alone proves that chiropractic is a sham.  There is absolutely no science behind the opposition to vaccinations.

Our theory:  The only reason chiropractors oppose vaccinations  is they aren’t allowed to sell and profit off them.  Every position in chiropractic is based on profitability not science or efficacy.

Hardly the martyrs death he deserved, Palmer died from an infectious disease.  With all the talented chiropractic physicians he had trained one would think that someone would just pop his neck and save him.  For years chiropractors tried to cover up how he died and circulated a number of conspiracy theories.  In the end it was likely he died because he rejected science.

The Underpaid “Doctor”

Many chiropractors argue they are as well trained as any medical doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant. They don’t understand why their market value today is not the same as that of an MD or even an NP.   No legitimate medical profession is going to teach how to market their services and to get people to believe they will be beneficial.  In Medicine and Nursing, students learn how to educate their patients and explain the evidence to them so they can make an informed decision.  Most chiropractic training is confined to classrooms with much time spent learning theory, adjustment, and marketing. (Morrison, 2009).   This is core to how they “practice” today.  A 2010 analysis of chiropractic websites found the majority of chiropractors and their associations made claims of effectiveness not supported by scientific evidence.

Time in school is not a relevant factor.  Just because the neighbor failed 9th grade twice and spent 6 years in high school does not mean he had a better high school education than one who graduated in 4 years.  Chiropractic colleges do not market themselves as institutions of academic excellence.  They go after the student who wants recognition but doesn’t necessarily want to have to earn it.  Do not worry about your mediocre performance and below average grades, there is more to you than that – you deserve to be a doctor too.   What bullshit.  It is with almost certainty that we can say that no chiropractor, despite claims to the contrary was accepted to both an accredited US medical school and chiropractic school and chose chiropractic because they thought that would be where they could most contribute to the public health.  The truth is it is actually easier to get into the best chiropractic program than it is a clown college.

Modern Chiro Fraud

A 2008 commentary proposed that the chiropractic profession actively regulate itself to combat abuse, fraud, and quackery, which are more prevalent in chiropractic than in other health care professions.  This would violate the social contract between patients and physicians.  With intense marketing efforts to gain acceptance they have managed to get licensing boards that allow this self-regulation.  These boards unlike state Nursing and Medical Boards do nothing to ensure quality education.  Chiropractic education in the U.S. consistently fails to meet generally accepted standards of evidence-based medicine.  They are not “Doctors” any more than those who buy a doctoral degree online or get ordained as a reverend doctor by an internet church.  Apparently many chiropractors actually do get an online doctoral degree so that they can hold themselves out to be doctors while awaiting licensing.  What is worse is they have managed to get themselves included in the definition of “physician”.  This has done much to improve the trust the public has in Chiropractors at the expense of Medical Doctors.

Ethical Practices

The US Office of the Inspector General (OIG) estimates that for calendar year 2013, 82% of payments to chiropractors under Medicare part B, a total of $359 million, did not comply with Medicare requirements. There have been at least 15 OIG reports about chiropractic billing irregularities since 1986.

The “smarter” chiropractors who want to avoid the regulations that come with Medicare acceptance simply do not take it.  They will not risk billing Medicare but have no problem billing as much as 15 times Medicare rates to your commercial insurance plan.  When there is no coverage for chiropractic then they will find  away to bill “rehab” which at some chiro offices  consists of laying on a roller table, getting e-stim, sitting in a wobble chair and getting a massage from a massage therapist they fraudulently bill as manual therapy.

Chiropractic is not a science nor a healthcare profession.  They prey on those with real pain and give pseudoscience credibility by holding themselves out as “doctors.” They are a threat to the public health.  They are a burden on our health system as they defraud insurance and Medicare in the hundreds of millions every year.   We challenge any chiropractor that bills insurance to allow an audit of the records they bill.  We will gladly publish the results good or bad. 


Corporate Practice of Medicine

We recognize that we live in an age where science is being attacked and rejected whether its about the environment, global warming, virology, vaccinations, medication safety or evidenced-based practice.  This is not a question about different interpretations of the evidence.  There is no evidence whatsoever that chiropractic is beneficial to anyone’s health.  We need a change in state laws.  Start in Arizona where chiropractors are abundant coming from Canada and around the country to prey on Arizona’s “snow birds” in a legal environment that allows them to operate unlicensed clinics and own medical practices.  Many states including California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Texas have laws that prevent the corporate practice of medicine.  These laws are based on the knowledge that it is most beneficial to the public health and safety if only medical professionals own medical practices.  If corporations or other professions are permitted to own a medical practice or hire medical doctors or even Nurse Practitioners they create a conflict of interest between the demands of the corporation and the best interest of the patient.

In Arizona and many other states, there are an alarming number of chiropractors who have converted into medical practices by hiring an MD, PA or NP as their “medical director”.  Doing so allows them to practice and bill for medical services even if not actually provided by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner.   They base this on the misinterpretation of supervision.  They believe it allows them to get away with billing physical therapy codes using a patient’s medical coverage even if there is no chiropractic coverage.   The physical therapy or “rehab” is “supervised” by the MD or usually an NP then billed under their NPI number as if they had rendered the service.  It is an intentional misinterpretation and abuse of “incident to” and supervision rules set by CMS.

Greed being more of a driving force then what’s good for the patient,  chiropractors push a lot of medically unnecessary services and equipment.  Their own practice is evidence of their influence over medical decision making in these “integrated” clinics.  Compare a typical physical therapy or physical medicine practice owned by a medical professional to a medical clinic owned by a chiropractor.  The chiro owned clinic will have:

  • More frequent visits
  • Longer treatment times
  • Higher rates of DME orders at much higher prices
  • Higher rates of patients getting multiple trigger point injections
  • More patients with hardship waivers to avoid paying coinsurance sometimes at 100%
  • Charges that are much higher than what is reasonable and common
  • Billing irregularities and much higher rates of billing fraud, we believe close to 100%
  • Use of unqualified NPs and PAs pressured to work outside their scope of practice (more on this soon)

We can not expect the Chiropractic Boards to regulate the practice.  Its made up of other chiropractors.  Yes, the medical boards and nursing boards are made up of MDs or RN’s as well.  The difference is that being in the chiropractic profession as well the board members are also guilty of the same actions as those they are regulating.  Declaring any chiropractic practice a fraud would reflect on the board members themselves.


Arizona is the perfect environment for the chiropractor.  They have plenty of “snow birds” to prey on and there is no law on the corporate practice of medicine.  In Arizona, rather than ensure Chiropractors are disciplined when they violate the law and making it clear they are regulated, the Board tells the DC’s if they get complaints, by law, the board has to investigate.  Then they are advised not to worry because they throw 75% out anyway.   They will not pursue any anonymous reports from patients who are afraid to go public no matter how bad the claim is.  The few things they do investigate, even if they find that the accused is guilty, end in minimal consequence.  Couple a weak board with no prohibition on the corporate practice of medicine and you end up with Chiropractic racketeering operations like:

  • Stamp Medical in Phoenix and Tuscon, AZ
  • Verve Wellness in Mesa, AZ
  • Pain Stop Clinics in Greater Phoenix, AZ
  • Ketamine Infusion Centers in Phoenix, AZ
  • Ketamine America in Mesa, AZ
  • Novacure in Chander, AZ

These are all highly profitable DC/MD integrated practices.  They engage in dishonest business practices and billing fraud among other bad acts.  All make claims that they can cure some illness or promise a pain free life for a fee.  Many will even see patients for “free” and file a medical provider’s lien then bill 3-10 times normal rates against your auto accident settlement.

Be on notice

If you are a personal injury attorney, physician assistant, nurse practitioner or medical doctor and you participate in what you know is unethical or illegal you will be added to the list and your actions will be reported to your board and the attorney general’s healthcare fraud investigators.

Former patients, even current patients, of chiropractors:  We want to hear your story.   We want to know your experience.  How you became a patient, what was promised, how much you or your insurance was charged and what the result was.  Good and bad, contact us and tell your story.