“Dr” Joseph Cipriano’s Y-Strap is Dangerous

Dr Joseph Cipriano is a chiropractor based in Greenville, South Carolina, who in recent years has become somewhat of a minor celebrity after uploading videos of himself to YouTube using a device called a Y-Strap, coining the nickname ‘The Y-Strap Doc.’

Joseph using the Y-strap on a pregnant woman.

Before I start, it’s important to understand the reasoning for why chiropractic is suddenly everywhere. In these modern times where we hunch over screens and phones, back pain has become a common ailment. But that’s not the only reason people seek out chiropractic videos and adjustments, there’s a much more sinister thrill to the ASMR elements.

Cipriano is an unlikely figure who has found his fame through a small piece of fabric. A Y-Strap is a fabric harness which Cipriano places behind the neck of a patient before quickly pulling the device and jerking the patient towards himself. The procedure looks extremely dangerous, yet those who visit his clinic allow him to perform the procedure upon them presumably because they believe that he is medically trained. The only problem is that he is not! What’s worse, this Y-strap torture device that would not look out of place in an S&M dungeon has zero evidence of its effectiveness or safety with one manufacturer stating that…

“The Y-Strap hasn’t been the subject of any clinical trials. Because there is no clinical proof that it works, we don’t sell it as a medical product.”

Cipriano first came to my attention in 2019 whilst researching for a video I wanted to produce warning the public about the very real dangers associated with visiting a chiropractor. You see, and stop me if you have heard this before, but chiropractic adjustment is a scam! It’s quackery of the purest kind, yet its proponents would have you believe that chiropractors are part of the medical community and thus have the authority to give out medical advice. In reality, they are not; they are people who have wasted a large portion of their life studying either the ramblings of a quack and his spooky ghost friend, or a technique of pain management which time and time again has been shown to be ineffective. That’s right, chiropractic is a fractured profession, with the two largest factions holding diametrically opposing beliefs on core chiropractic concepts. The faction which will be most familiar with are called the “mixers”, who are open to conventional medicine and see chiropractors as back pain specialists. The only issue here is that spinal manipulation is roughly only ten per cent more effective than nothing, as a low-back pain cure putting in on par with taking ibuprofen.

The second faction, the “straights”, religiously adhere to D.D. Palmer’s notion of the “innate intelligence”, and view subluxation as the sole cause of all human disease. Cipriano is very much in this camp and received his “Doctorate” from Life University which espouses the 19th century pseudoscience of vitalism. Vitalism is the belief that living organisms are fundamentally different from non-living entities because they contain a non-physical element, or are governed by different principles than are inanimate things. In the past I have also provided evidence that Cipriano is a very special breed of chiropractor who believes that “men do not cure”, and that spinal manipulation healing properties come from a “Divine Creator” who is using the chiropractor as a conduit. Needless to say, you shouldn’t be receiving any medical treatment from anyone who believes in archaic nonsense.

Cipriano was unimpressed with the video I published warning the viewer about his profession and the very real dangers associated with spinal manipulation. Rather than counter my arguments with a well thought-out, logical, and referenced response, he resorted to abusing copyright law and filed an illegal DMCA takedown notice on my video. By taking this course of action, Cipriano was projecting to the world that he’s unable to defend his profession, and must silence opposition out of fear that his customers might find out the truth – that he’s a quack, that chiropractic is a scam, and that you should not let him anywhere near you with his Y-Strap. Because my video fell within fair use (something which Cipriano was legally obligated to consider before filing a takedown notice), it was soon back up on YouTube and has since become one of my popular videos. Since then I have been keeping a close eye on Cipriano and I would like to share what I have discovered about the Y-Strap.

Shortly after publishing my video on Cipriano, I was contacted by a man named Peter M. Heimlich whose father I am told famously invented some kind of special hug. Shocked by what he saw, Peter informed me that he had consulted the FDA’s database of registered devices but failed to locate any information on the Y-Straps. Confused at how such a dangerous-looking procedure could be performed using an implement which appears to have not been registered as a medical device, Peter took it upon himself to contact one of the manufacturers, Superior Balance SL. A company representative of informed him that the device is not registered with the FDA, and when asked if it had been the subject of any published studies was told “The Y-Strap hasn’t been the subject of any clinical trials. Because there is no clinical proof that it works, we don’t sell it as a medical product”.

Horrified that Cipriano appeared to be using his patients as guinea pigs to test the medical benefits of the Y-Strap, Peter contacted various government agencies about his concerns. As a result, the FDA are currently investigating Y-Strap and the South Carolina Department of Labour Licensing and Regulation’s Office of Investigations and Enforcement have brought the complaint to the South Carolina Board of Chiropractic Examiners who hopefully will discuss the Y-Strap and those who use it at their next meeting. Peter also wrote a blog post on his findings which caught the attention of the president of Superior Balance SL, Tomas Lopez.

Lopez contacted Peter directly stressing that his company does not market the Y-Strap as a medical product. He later went on to say that the device is not “intended to diagnose, treat, cure, nor prevent any disease or health conditions” – something which is direct contradiction to what Cipriano and others who use the device online claim. Lopez took issue with presumption that the Y-Strap which Cipriano uses was manufactured by his company. Whilst it is true that we don’t know what brand of Y-Strap Cipriano uses, we do know that Superior Balance SL’s website hosts a completion video of chiropractors using the device.So, if he is not using their brand of Y-Strap why are they using his video clips to sell it? In any event you would think that they would be concerned that he is not using the device in as the company intended. What’s also strange and contradictory is that despite vehemently claiming the Y-Strap not to be a medical product, Lopez in his email to Peter references “literature” claiming it to be just that. The “literature” in question is not a clinical trial published in a peer-reviewed journal, but a PDF advert for a proto-Y-Strap which can be purchased from a company called Vibe for Health for the low cost of $250. What’s interesting is that this “literature” warns against using the device on the first visit to the chiropractor; something which Cipriano appears to regularly do to his patients.

“This adjustment should NOT be done on the first visit.”

Coincidentally, shortly after Lopez contacted Peter, the Y-Strap was registered on the FDA database by Willow Glen FDA Consultancy for the low cost of $279. Even though the device has now been registered, I feel that I have to stress that there still doesn’t appear to be any published evidence for the Y-Strap’s effectiveness or use. But if that is the case, why is there a video of an Orthopaedic Spinal Surgeon promoting the procedure on YouTube?

Dr. Antonio Webb is a fellowship trained Spine Surgeon located in San Antonio, Texas who specialises in degenerative, artificial disc replacement and minimally invasive spine surgery. In January of last year, he published a video titled ‘SPINE SURGEON reacts to Chiropractic Y-Strap Manipulations’ which many of my subscribers forwarded to me as proof that I was incorrect about the dangers of the Y-Strap. The only issue is that Dr Webb categorically says that after consulting the literature, he could not find any evidence to support its use. He even went so far as to talk about chiropractic being a fractured profession and how not all chiropractors believe that subluxation is the cause of all of mankind aliments. But if that is the case why, did so many people send the video my way as proof of the legitimacy for the Y-Strap? It has nothing to do with what he actually said, and more to do with what he didn’t say and the general tone of the video.

The video is what is says on the tin. It is a reaction video, and like all reaction videos very little time of effort has been put into research before it was filmed. For example, Webb receptively refers to Cipriano as a trained medical profession even though Cipriano had no legitimate medical training and his chiropractic “Doctorate” is based in vitalism. Yes, he does talk about chiropractic being a fractured profession but never out right calls it a complementary and alternative medicine (medical code for Quakery). If this were a normal reaction video it would not be an issue, but Webb’s whole shtick online is that he is a medical professional and therefore an authority on medical matters no matter how many disclaimers he gives. Why else would he be wearing scrubs if not to subtly imply to the viewer that he is approaching the subject professionally? Therefore, his lack of condemnation for a procedure which he admits has no evidence of its effectiveness doesn’t come across as impartial, but as an endorsement. This is further compounded when Webb states that the Y-Strap is capable of reliving pressure between the veritable in a controlled manner. Anyone who has watched one of Cipriano’s videos knows that this is not the case as the weight of his “patients” varies enormously. As a result,some hardly move when the Y-Strap is used upon them, whilst others are violently yanked from the table. Webb also states that applying pressure in the manner allows nutrients to localise around the effective area when this is not the case. I consulted a fellow spinal surgeon for this blog post who told me that as soon as the pressure is released on the spine it, goes back to its resting state and that after looking at the literature he was not able to find a mechanism in which nutrients can localise to the areas he outlined. Perhaps most egregiously he did not answer the burning question that the 5.1million people who watched his video wanted answering…is it safe because it sure as hell doesn’t look like it?!?! He kept deflecting the question whilst erroneously enforcing the idea that the chiropractors who use the Y-Strap are medical professionals. Eventually, he tells his audience that the Y-Strap “wont rip your skull off” which, while probably true, doesn’t answer their burning questions…is it dangerous? The answer, which probably won’t surprise you, is YES!

Time and time again, systematic reviews have attempted to warn the public about the very real danger associated with chiropractic adjustment. They have found that adjustments can worsen pre-existing conditions, that relatively mild adverse effects occur in 30-61% of all patients who see a chiropractor, and perhaps most worrying of all, that serious adverse effects are rarely reported in the medical literature. These serious complications include stroke, locked-in syndrome, brainstem trauma, and paralysis to name a few.

There is ZERO mention of the Y-Strap in the literature but there are many papers which document significant spinal injury following manipulation with various devices. The damage caused by these devises often leaves lasting neurological defects and can in some rare circumstances be fatal. There is no reason to suggest that the Y-Strap especially in the hands of someone who is not medically qualified would be any different. For your own safety stay away from people who use this untested, unscientific, and potentially deadly device.

About Myles Power (746 Articles)
My name is Myles Power, and I run the educational YouTube channel, powerm1985. I spend what little free time I have sharing my love of SCIENCE! through home experiments, visiting sites of scientific interest, and angrily ranting at pseudoscience proponents. I am also one of the founding members of the podcast 'The League of Nerds' - which I co-host with James from 'The History of Infection'.

2 Comments on “Dr” Joseph Cipriano’s Y-Strap is Dangerous

  1. Hi Myles, long term viewer and first time commenter of your stuff.

    Regarding Dr. Antonio Webb,I think he didn’t want to offend anyone.You are right he should have explicitly said it wasn’t instead of giving little hints that it wasn’t safe

    Regard KingMo

    Like

  2. My neck was injured with a Y-strap adjustment. I’ve had serious neurological problems since. Can you site the literature you mentioned that talks about injuries that have occurred from the Y-strap?

    Like

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