Post hoc, ergo proter hoc

Neil - Doctor of PhysiotherapyBlog, Evidence, Physiotherapy0 Comments

‘Post hoc, ergo propter hoc’ is a logical fallacy which could be called the manual therapy fallacy.

“It is wrong to argue that because you treated an area of the body and the pain went – the area treated must have something wrong with it and that you’ve fixed it.

The explanations preferred, in most cases, of how their treatment works will be based around the anatomy, physiology, pathology, biomechanics, a something-wrong of something-or-other in the area treated.

It is my opinion that if pain could be seen as a processing phenomenon then more rational and more reasonable explanations for treatment success will be made.

Sometimes, for the top-down input to work at its best it needs to be linked to an apparent physical fix – i.e. something has to be physically done with or to the patient to trigger the potent and parallel top-down effect.

Our patients who experience pain relief will quite naturally reward the physical treatment as being responsible for their improvement far rather than any airy fairy change in attitude or thinking about the problem that may have subtly occurred. And or course, the apparent success of the physical treatment then reinforces the therapist belief in it too. Hence:- post hoc, ergo propter hoc – for therapists as well as patients!”

— Louis Gifford

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *