Chiropractors: Quacks or saviors? A British libel court may decide

In his book Trick or Treatment, British science writer Simon Singh attacked chiropractors, claiming that the spinal manipulation treatment is a scam. Taking offense, the British Chiropractic Association has decided to sue him for libel. The trial, which begins today, will not simply determine whether or not Singh unfairly criticized the medical practice; if he wins, chiropractic could easily lose its legal legitimacy in Britain.

I have a somewhat vested interest in seeing how this trial turns out. A few years ago, following a painful back injury, I became involved in chiropractic medicine.

One day, as I sat swiveling in my chair, my back went one way, my front went another, and my spine went crazy. All of a sudden, as I fought for breath, I gained an immediate, powerful understanding of how a kitten feels when it is squeezed by a child. Over the next few minutes, I slowly stumbled to the floor, where I lay until the spasms dissipated enough to let me breathe.

While my wife was very complimentary about my new, improved posture, it soon became apparent that I needed to do something. My homespun treatment method, which was comprised of hot baths, liberal quantities of Jack Daniels, and sleeping on the floor, helped alleviate much of the pain and returned some mobility. Even so, realizing that a slow repair wasn't going to cut it, I went to a chiropractor.