Chiropractic “Technique Wars”
The Logan Method
It is anatomy and physiology that are the surgeon’s best guide to rational means of spinal treatment.
SIR ARTHUR KEITH, 1919
Going from one extreme to the other, we go from the top of the spine, “where Palmer works,” to the bottom of the spine, “where Logan works.” The Logan Basic Technique, taught at the Logan Basic College of Chiropractic in St. Louis, Missouri (approved by the International Chiropractic Association), proposes that misalignment of the sacrum (bone at the lower end of the spine — between the “hip bones”) is the primary cause of spinal disturbance above this bone, which, in turn, is the primary cause of disease.
Logan, like Palmer, teaches a special “adjustment . . . for correction of measured “misalignment” of the guilty bone. In the Logan system, an elaborate and complicated method of measuring vertebral misalignment up and down the spine (starting with the sacrum) is employed. Needless to say, such routine measurement of the normal spine will reveal many “millimeters of displacement” as a result of normal mechanical asymmetry of the vertebrae.
While the Palmer practitioner will adjust the first bone of the spine (atlas) to straighten up the back, pelvis, and legs, and to remove “nerve interference,” the Logan man will adjust the last major bone (sacrum) in an effort to do the same thing — both, in opposite and roundabout ways, trying to prevent or “remove the cause of disease.”
The founder of the Logan Basic Technique wrote:
Years after Graduation from Chiropractic College, I found that, in common with many practitioners of various health methods, my chronic ailments, spinal distortions, and chronic subluxations were but slightly changed or reduced. After practicing for ten years, I was afflicted for a nine week period with sciatic rheumatism, from which little relief was gained despite the very best “adjusting” afforded by more than a dozen otherwise qualified fellow practitioners. Therefore I could hardly have been severely at fault in concluding that health philosophies generally were enigmatic to no small degree, and that the results accruing from our procedure fell far short of the tenets of our philosophy .
The procedure mentioned by Logan, that supposedly falls far short of the tenets of the chiropractic philosophy, is the type of chiropractic still being taught in most chiropractic colleges today. Each “new” system, however, finds the other quite inadequate and ineffective. Without uniform and fundamental guides in anatomy and physiology-in their proper relationship to disease — each new chiropractic method or theory cancels out the validity of the entire chiropractic theory.
The extremes of technique used in the various schools of chiropractic — from Palmer to Logan — probably demonstrate better than anything else the fundamental lack of recognition, by the chiropractor — of the real spinal subluxation. The one thing obvious in the numerous chiropractic techniques is that the chiropractor simply strives to control the nervous system-by efforts not consistent with the laws of anatomy and physiology — and has not dwelled upon the specific treatment of mechanical disturbances. One only has to review any well-known chiropractic textbook to observe the general lack of information and guidance in the treatment of mechanical spinal disorders as specific entities. This information is found primarily in orthopedic textbooks.
The small number of chiropractic books now in print deal primarily with versions of the chiropractic theory that are excessively complicated with borrowed expressions from technical discussions in neurology. As a general rule, however, these complicated discussions lead the chiropractic practitioner back to the idea that the cause of most disease is spinal misalignment, requiring only spinal adjustment; this conclusion appears to be confirmed in observing the general lack of reference books in the chiropractor’s professional library. The need for a detailed reference to each and every disease process treated is apparently canceled out, in the chiropractor’s office, by a single book explaining the general occurrence of disease as a result of “subluxated” vertebrae; which vertebrae cause which diseases, and the method used to “adjust” these vertebrae, depends upon the school of thought adhered to by the practitioner.
The Logan Method, like most other chiropractic methods, claims to be the superior method of treating disease. In the Textbook of Logan Basic Methods, the statement is made that “conclusive proof is afforded that in no method other than Logan Basic Technique has there ever been conceived or correlated material sufficient to explain the causes of body and spinal distortions. Without Basic Technique chronic, complex body and spinal irregularities, including subluxation, have prevailed unabated since early time. . . . We can prove conclusively that the sacrum and coccyx are the primary portion of the primary curvature of the spinal column-‘as the sacrum goes so goes the spine’-and that it is absolutely necessary to restore the sacrum to normal position and relationship with articulating bones to effectively reduce curvatures, subluxations, and disease.” 
Thus, like the Palmer Method, the Logan system offers the only “sure” solution for health and freedom from “dis-ease.” Medical opinion of this particular method might be summed up in this excerpt from Dr. Samuel Kleinberg’s book, Scoliosis [spinal curvature]: “I have never encountered any peculiar anatomic variation of the sacrum which by itself has been definitely responsible for a scoliosis.” 
Although the Logan method teaches that subluxation of vertebrae is the cause of disease, its unique distinction lies in its claims that vertebral subluxation is the result of sacral subluxation, and that the sacrum, must be realigned before other displacements can be permanently corrected and disease cured. Thus, according to Logan, all the miraculous cures claimed by the various chiropractic factions, then and now, could not have happened at all unless the practitioner employed Basic Technique (his own method), since, without this method, displaced vertebrae have remained “unabated since early time.” This means that prior to the advent or discovery of the Logan Method all treatment was of no avail — medical and chiropractic alike. If one believed such claims, he would have to assume that the numerous cures effected by medical therapy over the years were figments of the imagination, and that all the great pioneers of medical science (and present-day medical practitioners) were ignorant and in error.
Making a full-spine X-ray film of the patient, the Logan practitioner makes detailed and complicated measurements that are recorded immediately upon the film. The individual who presents a slight spinal curvature (and most of us do) will provide subject-matter for a series of markings that may reach from the first vertebra to the last — a sight to behold, especially for the suggestible person who may interpret each mark to be a diagnosis of disease (or potential disease). The degree of displacement of any one vertebra is determined by the difference in the measurements of the vertebrae above and below the one being examined. In attempting to correct these displacements, the practitioner may begin with adjustment of the sacrum by using a “reflex” method of removing muscle tension so that the sacrum can “realign itself” — with an automatic correction of all related disorders such as spinal curvature, subluxations, and disease. Treatment might be applied to the entire spine in order to facilitate correction until the “primary cause” is removed.
The Logan adjustment is essentially accomplished by pressing the thumb, in a certain direction, into an area of the buttocks near the inferior border of the sacrum. This light pressure supposedly has the effect of relaxing spastic attachments to the sacrum, thus allowing the sacrum, to “straighten out” like a coiled spring released from compression. The contact is held for as long as is necessary to relax the patient.
Actually, movement in the sacroiliac joint is slight, and any abnormal movement or displacement of the sacrum, however slight, would result in severe pain and disability. Muscle spasm severe enough to alter the level of the base of the sacrum would, of necessity, be quite painful. As we noted in Dr. Kleinberg’s writings, deformity of the sacrum itself as a cause of spinal curvature is quite rare, and correction of congenital or developmental deformities in the bone cannot usually be accomplished outside the employment of surgical measures. Most often, any alteration in the level of the base of the sacrum — sufficient to cause spinal curvature — is the result of unequal development of the bones of the hips or the legs. Curvatures resulting from this type of disturbance can be prevented by proper attention in childhood — by building up the shoe on the side of the deficient extremity and prescribing exercise of a corrective nature. In spinal curves resulting from deformity of the spinal vertebrae, however, or in the severe type of idiopathic spinal curvature, for which no known cause or modus operandi has yet been found, there is little known treatment that is of any value — as far as “curing” the condition is concerned — outside the use of certain surgical measures; although traction, support, exercise, and various conservative measures may aid in halting the progress of the curvature.
When the malignant and progressive type of spinal curvature occurs in a child (usually between the ages of six and ten), death could possibly ensue if surgical fusion of the spine is not employed. The spinal column, sagging into a terrible and deforming “S” shape (scoliosis), collapses the torso, resulting in a merciless and fatal compression of the child’s growing organs. Death might result from heart failure, lung congestion, or some other failure in organs too severely compressed to function properly. Another example of fatal spinal curvature is found in the rapidly developing deformity of polio victims whose nerve supply to certain spinal muscles has been destroyed by infection. A unilateral or uneven pull of the muscles surrounding the spinal column wrenches and tugs at the spine until the body’s trunk is telescoped into unsightly shapes, but “nerve interference,” as chiropractors describe it, does not occur.
- 1. Logan HB. Textbook of Logan Basic Methods. St. Louis: Logan Basic College of Chiropractic, 1950.
- 2. Kleinberg S. Scoliosis, Pathology, Etiology, and Treatment. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1951.