Crescione’s primitive tests contrast acutely with the precise, high-tech evaluative procedures familiar to certified athletic trainers, exercise physiologists and registered physical therapists. Yet he stated that his procedure was “more complicated” than that of many chiropractors because he was “more thorough.” He expounded:
You have a lot of chiropractors who are fairly simple and straightforward: if it hurts here, that’s where you adjust it. With me, if it hurts here, yes, the problem may be here, but let’s just see if it’s here or if it’s coming from someplace else: because, if it’s here, [it’s] easy [to correct]; if it’s coming from someplace else and I just adjust here because you say it hurts, I’m going to create another problem. And I’m not going to do that.
To really take care of somebody, chiropractically, do it right. It’s actually a very specific science. …
What chiropractic really is doing is trying to help keep the nervous system free and clear. So the spine … is where you start from. But [as] muscles move bones, you have to worry about the muscles: Are they too strong or too weak or what?
If you’re feeding nutrition into the body … that nutrition breaks down and it goes into muscles, tendons and ligaments. If you’re putting junk into the system, you’re putting junk into tendons and ligaments and muscles.
“So I gather you’re a mixer,” I said.
“You’re probably better off calling me a straight mixer,” Crescione responded.
He claimed he had detected neurological “weaknesses.” When I asked if he attributed them to backbone pressure on my nerves, he replied, “Yes. Some of it’s [by the] spinal bone; some of it’s by soft tissue.”
When I asked Crescione whether he performed cranial balancing, he said it was a must. He concluded that I had a sprained sacroiliac joint and was “falling apart.” He stated that I should resume weightlifting to prevent low-back pain — even though I had told him that the symptom had disappeared after I’d quit weightlifting. He added that the (alleged) sacroiliac-joint sprain was causing digestive problems involving the pancreas. He told me:
The mid-thoracic area is one of the places that supply the pancreas. So if you get stuck [“subluxated”] in the mid-thoracic area, you get a change in nerve flow from that nerve out to the pancreas. So what does the pancreas do? Sugar metabolism. That’s your energy. So a lot of those afternoon yawns may be coming from that thoracic [area] being stuck.
He advised me to get an X-ray, for $50, at his other office.
The chiropractor enumerated my options: I could do nothing; I could seek a second opinion from a physical therapist or exercise physiologist; I could submit to chiropractic treatment of “spinal misalignments or spinal subluxations”; or I could avail myself of his counseling services concerning nutrition and exercise “to get as much change into the nervous system as possible.” However, he warned me: “I’ll tell you now: This low-back pain … will recur again, and it will get progressively worse to the point where you’re not going to be able to get up, and then you’ll be out.”
“But it hasn’t gotten worse,” I countered.
“It will,” he asserted. “You may not have a big problem there until you’re in your 40s or 50s [I was 39], and then it’s going to come in a form of a disc that they want to take out. That’s your choice.”
When I inquired about fees, Crescione said I needed dietary counseling, spinal “adjusting,” and possibly applied Kinesiology — “the icing on the cake” — just to treat one of my “different problems”: my tendency to yawn in the afternoon, which he termed “a digestive thing.” He estimated that at least two sessions per week for six to 12 weeks would be sufficient to correct my alleged problems. The quoted cost per session was $40.
Not long after my visit, Crescione’s office made expiration-dated “certificates” available elsewhere in the health spa entitling bearers to a free exam. I also overheard an employee of the health spa tell a potential member, “When you join, you can get a free spinal analysis.”
The Bottom Line
National Council Against Health Fraud president William T. Jarvis, Ph.D., has noted that physiotherapists, athletic trainers and various medical specialists sometimes use manipulation to treat certain musculoskeletal problems. Jarvis explains:
The fact that most of their schools are accredited reflects the failure of the U.S. Office of Education to require that health professions whose accrediting agencies they recognize be scientifically valid.
In the July 1991 issue of “Philosophical Constructs for the Chiropractic Profession,” William Bachop, Ph.D., professor of anatomy at National College of Chiropractic, provided a sobering critique of chiropractic’s theoretical basis. In an article titled “The Warfare of Science with Philosophy in Contemporary Chiropractic,” Bachop stated:
What is called “Chiropractic Philosophy” turns out to be a creed, and what is pointed to as philosophical discourse is more like a sermon preached to the converted. …
The defenders of the chiropractic faith are not true philosophers: they are true believers. They denounce change as apostasy. They call upon the faithful to resist heresy. The principal heresy is any science that flies in the face of their doctrines or, better said, dogmas. When science happens to agree with some doctrine of theirs, no one is allowed to forget that science is in agreement with them. But when science disagrees, one is sanctimoniously told that science is a limited way of knowing and that chiropractic philosophy is a way of knowing that transcends the limitations of science. … So science becomes a buffet from which one selects those scientific tidbits that satisfy one’s taste.
These comments are germane to other forms of “alternative” healthcare.
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