How to Spot a ‘Shonky’ Chiropractor

This page is for the information of members of the public who are concerned about being over serviced by a Chiropractor.


Disclaimer: The following is only a guide and is not definitive, nor can it be considered conclusive. It is solely the opinion of the webmaster and does not claim to represent the policies of governing bodies such as the Chiropractors Registration Board, the Chiropractors and Osteopaths College of Australasia, the Chiropractors Association of Australia or any other regulatory or representative body.


Always be a consumer -that is- demand good information; ask when you don’t understand something; and walk away if you are unhappy.



How to spot a Shonky Chiropractor:


  • Don’t let anyone “crack” you unless you see their Chiropractic qualifications. Massage therapists, your local GP (medical doctor) and most physiotherapists are not qualified to assess for, nor perform manipulations and are placing your life in danger by doing so. Chiropractors spend five years at a University learning how to perform manipulation safely. No other course even comes close. 
  • Never commit to more than 12-15 Chiropractic treatments at a time. 
  • Never pay in advance for more than an initial care plan of 12-15 visits. If you are told that you should have 50, 60, or more visits in a year, particularly if you are then encouraged to pay in advance or offered finance, WALK AWAY and don’t go back. Call the Health Care Complaints Commission or the Chiropractors Registration Board in your state and lodge a complaint. These Chiropractors are likely to be nothing more than predators, who are out for your money. If you have already signed up, then you should seek legal advice and a second opinion. 
  • Some practitioners use pseudo-scientific diagnostic equipment such as “infra-red muscle scanners”, “posture analysis machines” or “nerve analysers” that print out impressive, colourful, yet scientifically invalid and unreliable scans of “where your problems are”. The most acceptable forms of diagnostic machines are ones you’ve already heard of such as X-Rays, CT’s, MRI’s, Ultrasounds and EMG’s, that are routinely used by all medical fields. 
  • Some Chiropractors X-ray everybody that walks into their clinic as standard procedure (against Department of Health Guidelines for ethical radiography use) – often several times a year, and then scare you about how bad your scoliosis is (everybody has at least a mild scoliosis!).This is particularly common among those that have their own X-Ray machines and charge you money for your X-Rays. 
  • They run gimmicks offering free X-rays (Chiropractic Spinal X-rays should be free anyway under Medicare in NSW). 
  • Be suspicious if you are told you will “end up in a wheel-chair” or other such catastrophic predictions if you don’t commit to a treatment plan. 
  • Be suspicious if your usual treatment time takes no more than 2 minutes. A good Chiropractor cannot thoroughly greet, enquire about progress, assess, treat, re-assess, retreat if necessary, re-assess, advise and send off a patient in 2 minutes. Most ongoing Chiropractic appointments are generally accepted to require approximately 10 minutes per patient. 
  • Be suspicious if they don’t show you the professional courtesy of treating you in privacy, but treat several patients in the same room at the same time. 
  • Be suspicious if they never give you any exercises, stretches, dietary recommendations, or other self care strategies to minimise your need for and dependency on future treatment. 
  • Be suspicious if they don’t keep records in a patient file of each visit (it is illegal not to!) 
  • Be suspicious if they do the same thing every visit beyond their initial care plan without re-examining you or explaining their reasons to your satisfaction. 
  • Be suspicious if, after the first 2-3 months of care you are no better, yet they still try to convince you to keep having the same treatment. 
  • Be suspicious if they keep harassing you to come in, beyond the occasional courtesy call or reminder card. 
  • Finally- if they seem shonky, then they probably are. It never hurts to get another opinion.