Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cracking Spinal Jokes to a Diabetic

I love chiropractors. Really! I just have a hard time letting them near me anymore. They are always cracking me up.

Here is the deal, you move stuff around in the body and stuff happens. Chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, are all manipulation. To a certain extent, they can all cause the body to do stuff that didn't happen before.

But then there are the claims. Chiropractors, or at least mine, claimed that doctors and drug companies were just treating the symptoms of a messed up spine. Really? Hard to say, but cracking my back and paying a lot of money and time did not help. Seemed a bit odd that I never got my money back (pun intended). I even signed up for a health program who's spokesman was Captain James T. Kirk.

Did it help a little? Sure, but no cures and I did exactly what he wanted. Paid in advance too. But that's a ruse by the pseudoscience practitioner. Hard to back out when you have already paid for the service.

Are people truly helped by chiropractors? Yep! But can you say it is because of all that back cracking work? Not definitively. Sorry, not a lot of proof. Devilishly hard to do a double blind study either. Despite the whining of chiropractors, there still isn't 100% success in their profession.

Cracking my knuckles feels good. So does cracking my back. You get a bit of freedom of movement in those joints. With a computer and bad posture, we don't move a whole lot. Chiropractors might help, but so does getting off my butt.

One of my greatest pain complaints is now gone. I had a lot of pain. Huge aching pain. Pain that made it hard to think. A pain that wasn't helped much by the chiropractor, better helped by massage, and even helped by electronic acupuncture, but never stopped. You know what it was caused by? Type 2 diabetes.

Sadly non of these people understand type 2 diabetes. They can't cure it. Sorry. They didn't even diagnose it. A quick blood test and there we go. Controlled diet and good drugs, well, pain goes away. Pretty cool eh? Fail to control diet and take the drugs, look pain. Ah, science.

I love pseudoscience. It is amazing how well it works, when it works. But there is the flaw. Placebos are cool, and some things, even chiropractors, can create physical effects (endorphins from having your head twisted are cool), but they are not necessarily cures. For all my chiropractor's talk of others treating the symptoms and not the cause, he was just treating my symptom. Go figure.

The key reason for this blog and the book is the understanding of why we believe in silly stuff. The problem of course is that silly stuff often works. People swear by magnets, voodoo dolls, and chiropractors. They can all have effects either from pure mind, or a real effect that is just confused with others or pure chance. The lesson here is that it is often hard to tell.

It is also a good idea to go out and buy a glucose meter. Go to a doctor if you want, but a glucose meter will tell you if you have type 2 diabetes. Read the instructions, read the literature, and test. It won't kill you, but it might save you. Most of us don't understand that effect of the food we eat. Seeing your blood sugar skyrocket after a happy meal or a bag of chips will wake you up.

Want to hear some great pseudoscience from your doctor? The fasting blood sugar test is hokum. It will only show that you are diabetic, not on the edge of diabetes. The only way to see if you body is on the slippery slope of type 2 is if you do a glucose tolerance test. The problem of course it that this takes time and money. Problem with that is that you are already in trouble if a doc sends you off for this test. I'd say get one every year after you are 35. I'm not a doctor, but I wish I had at least a hemoglobin A1c test instead of all those semi-worthless fasting blood sugar tests that failed to catch pre-diabetes.

If you don't want to go as far as a meter, read the diabetic symptoms (throw in weird achy muscle pain because that is often missed because it is rare). If you already have them, well too late, but at least you can take some action. Don't just treat the symptoms. Find the cause. Also, get a second, third, and forth opinion.

There is pseudoscience everywhere, even at your doctor's office. My doc missed the obvious symptoms of type 2 until the blood tests came back. Doctors are human, not infallible. They are influenced by education, drug companies, and even the psychology of the examination room. Sometimes real science is second banana to gut feelings, long held beliefs, influence of others, and a sprinkle of hokum.

Twenty million or more people in the US have diabetes. Half don't even know it yet. We don't really know why, but it is partially genetic, and part diet. Odds are pretty good that if you are over 45 you are either a type 2 diabetic or on your way. That's science, don't ignore its possibilities.