AG responds to chiropractor's claims

November 28, 2008 8:04:31 PM PST
A South Lake Tahoe chiropractor who claims to have discovered a quick fix for a painful, incurable condition is now facing the possible loss of his license. It comes after an I-Team investigation two weeks ago. Now, his attorney is unveiling the defense he plans to use.

Dr. Paul Whitcomb's attorney Ted Long was in San Francisco this week for a private meeting at the attorney general's office. He is defending Whitcomb's controversial chiropractic technique and trying to save his license.

"I've gone through the files and such and I can't quite understand what they're so upset about other than the fact that Paul is obviously involved in a controversial subject purporting to cure a disease that the medical profession says is incurable," Long said.

Whitcomb could not attend the meeting, Long said, because he is still busy at his clinic in South Lake Tahoe treating 30 patients who suffer from fibromyalgia -- a chronic pain syndrome with symptoms that include muscle aches, fatigue and depression.

He calls it the "Whitcomb method" -- a quick neck manipulation, three times a day, five times a week for at least two months, at a cost of $7,000 or more.

In an interview with ABC7 earlier this month, Whitcomb claimed a remarkable success rate.

ABC7: So you're saying 94 percent of the time, 95 percent of the time. It works for people.

Whitcomb: This is an estimate, but I think that's pretty accurate, it works for that many of the people."

But medical experts ABC7 talked to say there is no cure for fibromyalgia. Doctor Wallace Sampson has spent 30 years debunking alternative medical treatments -- he is critical of chiropractic in general, but especially of Whitcomb.

"With each one of these neck manipulations you increase the chance of a stroke," Sampson said.

The I-Team contacted state officials about the case earlier this month, and within days the attorney general's office moved to revoke Whitcomb's license for administering "excessive treatment" to patients and making "sensational statements which are intended to deceive the public."

But Whitcomb's defense will be that many patients say the treatment works, Long said.

"I have about 100 affidavits here from patients who report remarkable recovery," Long said.

Whitcomb arranged for ABC7 to meet several patients at his office, and they seemed convinced.

"When he tested me the very first time, all the pain left my body," patient Loren Jordan said.

But others ABC7 contacted said the treatments only made their conditions worse.

"You end up leaving more depressed than, than when you came, and in similar or greater levels of pain," former patient Walter Schulte said.

The attorney general's office declined to discuss the case, but released a statement saying the next step is a hearing before an administrative law judge and they do "plan to move forward in prosecuting the case."

Whitcomb's attorney is calling for an independent study to find out, once and for all, if his client's techniques have any merit. "If the study turns out he's making it up, he ought to be out of business, and I think he would agree," Long said. "But if the study turns out there's some value then perhaps we can move beyond these, what I consider fairly petty complaints."

It will be months before the chiropractic board makes a final decision on whether to revoke Whitcomb's license, but ABC7 will stay with the story.


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