Background: Chiropractors claim to locate, analyze and diagnose a putative spinal lesion known as subluxation and apply the mode of spinal manipulation (adjustment) for the correction of this lesion.
Aim: The purpose of this examination is to review the current evidence on the epidemiology of the subluxation construct and to evaluate the subluxation by applying epidemiologic criteria for it's significance as a causal factor.
Methods: The databases of PubMed, Cinahl, and Mantis were searched for studies using the keywords subluxation, epidemiology, manipulation, dose-response, temporality, odds ratio, relative risk, biological plausibility, coherence, and analogy.
Results: The criteria for causation in epidemiology are strength (strength of association), consistency, specificity, temporality (temporal sequence), dose response, experimental evidence, biological plausibility, coherence, and analogy. Applied to the subluxation all of these criteria remain for the most part unfulfilled.
Conclusion: There is a significant lack of evidence to fulfill the basic criteria of causation. This lack of crucial supportive epidemiologic evidence prohibits the accurate promulgation of the chiropractic subluxation.