How a Chiropractor Used Scare Tactics

Amy C. Hays
January 4, 2000

I had some upper back pain last year and was referred to a chiropractor by a friend. The chiropractor I saw had me x-rayed and spent 20 minutes with me on my first appointment — had me watch a video on subluxation and read a pamphlet as well. Because my friend was so sold on her chiropractic experience, I ignored what I thought was my cynicism and decided to give it a try.

The chiropractor showed me my x-ray and told me my vertebrae were twisted and I had 3 or 4 subluxations. He also said I was very young (32 at the time) to have such problems. This surprised me because I have always been very athletic and in really good shape. (I swam throughout high school and college and exercise vigorously on a regular basis.) He set me up on a program of 2 or 3 treatments a week, and I went for about 8 months before I decided to quit. My back pain did go away after about 3 weeks or so. But he told me that I needed to keep having treatments or things could even get worse than they were when I came in.

The chiropractor used the Activator tool. I would have a 2:00 pm appointment, and I’d sit in his very crowded waiting room — never for less than 30 minutes, and usually for at least 45 minutes to an hour. Then, when my turn came, I’d go into one of the rooms and lay on a table while he’d “measure” my leg length and click that silly Activator on my back for maybe two minutes. That would be it. I think that’s all he ever did with any of the other patients I saw in his office.

I thought it was weird that he never gave me stretches to do or anything. I also would get very annoyed that he’d have me set up an appointment and then I’d end up sitting in the waiting room for so long. That was particularly annoying as I had my one-year-old waiting with me. I heard one person call the chiropractor ‘s system “cluster booking” — trying to get as many people in to his office as possible.

I finally got so frustrated with the waiting that I quit going. I also started listening to my “cynical” brain and decided that, at $18 a pop, this Activator thing must be a big waste of money. Since then (June 99) I have felt fine. My upper back started bugging me again right after I had my new son in September, but the pain went away by itself in a few days.

My former chiropractor’s Web site states he is a “teacher for the Parker Chiropractic School of Success,” is “very active with the Parker Chiropractic Research Foundation,” and “has attended 95, 4-day seminars on post graduate education and research.” From two articles on Chirobase [A, B], I have learned that these are practice-building organizations that teach how to keep patients coming back. This page from the chiropractor’s web site gives the general idea:

How Can You Stay Healthy?

By eliminating nerve interference, chiropractic care can not only correct numerous health problems, but also may prevent many conditions from developing. This enables the body to maintain its natural, inborn resistance to illness and disease.

For continuing good health, the best answer is preventive health care. In conjunction with a program of regular spinal adjustments that will improve the nerve function of your body, and therefore your overall general health, chiropractic advocates the basic formula of proper nutrition, adequate exercise, sufficient rest, good posture, and a positive attitude.

For you to have a longer, healthier, and happier life, it is imperative that you be aware of the fact that Subluxations is truly a disease that occurs in epidemic proportions It is a serious condition in itself and can easily develop into conditions affecting every part of the body. And most people have one or more vertebral Subluxations interfering with some function of the body and, therefore, interfering with normal health.

Chiropractors are the only professionals specializing in the detection and elimination of vertebral Subluxations. Take your whole family to visit your chiropractor and let him or her detect and correct any Subluxations you may have. For it is these malpositioned vertebrae which impair nerve function and ultimately stifle human potential. Don’t wait for health-threatening, or even life-threatening, conditions to develop.

The “subluxation” descriptions and the scare tactics are like the ones he used on me. I am sharing my story because I feel I was definitely duped — and I hope others will learn from my misfortune.


Mrs. Hays resides in a suburb of Oklahoma City. In addition to being a full-time mother, she coaches swimming throughout the year.

This article was posted on January 4, 2000.