Sunday, September 13, 2009

Do you have chronic low back pain?

That's the title of a full-page ad in The Record this weekend, stating that the Canadian Decompression and Pain Centres (CDPC) can help us. They have a three-phase approach that is not available anywhere else. Why? Probably because no one believes it's worthwhile.

OK, here are the details:

Phase 1: Spinal Decompression System.
This basically sounds like traction. So far, so good.

Phase 2: Oxygen Enhancement.
Have you seen the idiots in those oxygen "bars" inhaling different flavours of oxygen? Well, the reason they look so stupid is because they don't realize that oxygen is actually in the air! Unless your doctor is making you drag around you own O2 canister, you probably get all you need just by breathing.

Phase 3: Neuro-Supplementation.
This is so good, I just have to quote. "The patient is given a premium natural herbal blend in capsule form."
Translation: "premium"="costly"; "natural herbal blend"="we wish we could call it a drug, but its efficacy falls below the standards of what Health Canada allows"

OK, and here comes my favourite part. "During the course of the treatment program, the patient is given a nutritional detoxification drink". Detox?! If you know me, you know I don't dig that detox crap. When you hear someone say "detox", run the other way.

The ad never mentions any evidence that their method works, except for statements like "Many patients feel immediate relief from pain". Hmmm... "many". Is that "many" like 10... out of 1,000,000? I bet an empty statement like that would be equally valid for a healing technology like iCure; "Place your stiff lower back close to the monitor to catch the healing rays. Many patients feel immediate relief from pain."

But they DO offer proof! Four testimonial statements. Proof by testimony is another sign that you should stay away. If they really had objective proof, they'd tell you about it. But I expect they don't have proof, so instead they try to take advantage of your faulty human decision-making circuits and throw a few compelling cases as you. The problem is that these testimonies are hand-picked, and probably don't give a good indication of what the average person experiences. Moreover, they also imply that these patients felt better BECAUSE of the therapy. But they might have gotten better for an entirely different reason. Maybe they withdrew from the Ultimate Fighting competition a week earlier. Testimonies do not give enough information to infer that the treatment caused the healing.

Another red flag... consultations are free. What they mean to say is "We won't charge you for our high-pressure sales pitch."

The ad even has an FAQ section, including the question "What are your doctors' qualifications?" Answer: "The team at CDPC includes doctors of natural medicine, medical therapists", etc. According to this web page, "Naturopathic Doctor" is an accredited term, but "Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine" is not. This is consistent with the language used by the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors.

But why am I even talking about accreditation of naturopathic medicine?! If any of these therapies had the balance of evidence in their favour, then mainstream medicine would be all over them, and they would no longer be referred to as "naturopathic".

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