Everything you need to know about visiting a chiropractor in Singapore, distilled into 6 points. In order to give you this low-down, we analysed 3 pages worth of Google results for the search term "chiropractor Singapore", including some of the controversies reported in the media.
TLDR: There's zero robust scientific evidence that chiropractic treatment works, and may even be harmful.
(Also read: 20 things that most chiropractors won’t tell you).
1. What is a chiropractor?
A chiropractor is someone who primarily treats musculoskeletal problems through manipulation of your spine.
In layman terms, they crack, pop and adjust your spine.
2. Why do people see chiropractors in Singapore?
The most common reason Singaporeans seek out a chiropractor is back pain, although chiropractors claim that spinal adjustment treatments can confer a whole range of other health benefits as well.
From browsing multiple local chiropractic websites, their main appeal/message is that treatment of spine abnormalities is able to:
- Promote health and prevent disease
- Tap on your body's self-healing mechanism
- Optimize your day to day performance
3. Cost of seeing a chiropractor in Singapore
Source: Singapore Pain Solutions Chiropractic
The price for a chiropractic consultation alone (with no treatment) ranges from about $70 - $120 in Singapore. These prices are at the lower end for chiropractic services.
The entire length of training for a chiropractor takes 4 years. For perspective, you'd pay $80 - $120 per consult to see a specialist medical doctor/dentist in Singapore, who'd require at least 10 years of training and work experience.
As evidenced by numerous CASE complaints, it's also not uncommon for chiropractors to upsell unnecessary treatment packages to patients.
Source: SPH, March 17, 2014
4. Does chiropractic work, according to Science?
Chiropractors regularly make unvalidated claims at being able to treat a whole range of medical conditions, from diabetes to colic in newborns.
Contrary to these claims however, there's no evidence that chiropractic can treat any disease, or make people healthier. In fact, there was a huge backlash from the medical profession when a video of a chiropractor ill-advisedly cracking a baby's spine went viral.
Chiropractic is ONLY useful for lower back pain, although the same study concluded that it's no better than other existing treatments, such as physical therapy and exercise.
5. Ok, even if chiropractic doesn't really work, it's harmless and feels good, right?
In adults, chiropractic treatment carries a risk of stroke and tearing of the neck artery's inner lining. In children, there have been reports of bleeding in the brain, and paraplegia.
Up to 50% of patients also report short-term increased pain after spinal manipulation. As reported in this 2016 Today article:
A 2010 study published in International Journal of Clinical Practice found 26 published cases of death after spinal manipulation, and possibly many more unpublished ones, allegedly due to a tear or “dissection of a vertebral artery”.
The most recently reported deaths in 2016 was that of a 32 year old woman from Jakarta who died after being treated by an American chiropractor, and another 34 year old women from USA who died after suffering a rupture of her vertebral artery from chiropractic treatment.
6. Sounds scary. Are chiropractors regulated in Singapore?
Chiropractors call themselves doctors because “‘Doctor of Chiropractic” is the name of the degree, and not because they are medical doctors. There’s no chiropractor course offered in Singapore, so local chiropractors are all trained overseas.
The Ministry of Health does not regulate any treatments that chiropractors offer, or what they choose to call themselves (despite members of the public complaining that their doctor title was misleading).
Source: Today, Jan 27, 2016
To sum up, a doctor will never refer you to see a chiropractor. If you've got back or neck pain, here are 4 types of healthcare professionals a doctor in Singapore may refer you to see instead:
- Sport Medicine doctor
- Sports Orthopaedic surgeon
- Pain doctor
A GP will be able to point you towards the professional who can best manage your condition. Read this post to find out more about back pain and where to seek treatment.
The good news is that 90% percent of people who experience back pain for the first time get better in 2 - 6 weeks without any invasive treatment at all.