If chiropractic care seems promising, but you have doubts, join the club. Chiropractic is different. And it is this difference that has brought results to millions since 1895 and caused them to rethink the nature of health and the role of chiropractic care in it. It’s okay to be skeptical. But learn the simple facts about today’s chiropractic.
Once and for all, let’s put to rest some of the most common myths
How do you define “scientific?”
If you define it as the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment and then testing the resulting hypotheses, then today’s chiropractic is quite scientific. Because it’s based on the scientific fact that the nervous system controls and regulates virtually every cell, tissue, organ and system of the body.
Don’t be misled by the “low-tech” nature of chiropractic adjustments! There are a growing number of studies that suggest the chiropractic approach to reducing nerve disturbance along the spine, may enhance the ability of the brain and nerve system to control and regulate the body.
These include published research documenting the results of chiropractic care on asthma, infantile colic, immune function, dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps), improving vision and brain function, lower back pain, one’s overall health status and many others.
The “scientific” argument is largely a red herring and the sign of a double standard. Medical economist David Eddy, MD, Ph.D., observes that only 15% of medical procedures have ever been scientifically verified, and the other 85% of common medical procedures have no “scientific basis!”
Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. Ask our delighted patients whether chiropractic is scientific.
Gray’s Anatomy, Henry Gray F.R.S.Smith, R. Where is the wisdom? BMJ 1991; 303(Oct 5): 798-799.
Paul Shekelle, MD, MPH, Head of a back study of RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, 1992, Medicine, Monopolies and Malice, pp. 49, 199, 208.
John Carey, Medical Guesswork. Business Week, May 29, 2006, 73-79.
Chiropractors are Well Educated
The fact is, educational requirements for today’s chiropractor are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions.
Several decades ago the education that chiropractors received was purposely narrow. Without the interest in prescribing medicines or performing surgery, chiropractic education focused on anatomy, the philosophy of natural healing, the wisdom of the body and adjusting techniques.
Today’s chiropractor receives a much broader education. In fact, it’s quite comparable to that received by medical practitioners.
Before acceptance to a five-year chiropractic college, prospective chiropractors must complete a minimum of three years of undergraduate work with a heavy emphasis on the basic sciences.
This focus on science continues during the first two years of study, emphasizing classroom and laboratory work in anatomy, physiology, public health, microbiology, pathology and biochemistry. Later, the focus is on specialized subjects, including chiropractic philosophy and practice, along with chiropractic diagnosis and adjusting methods. Since chiropractors don’t prescribe drugs, instead of studying pharmacology and surgery, they receive an even deeper training in anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation, nutrition, diagnosis, X-ray and a variety of adjusting techniques that aren’t taught in any other health care field.
Disparaging the educational achievements of today’s chiropractor is an outdated belief from another era.
John McMillam Mennell, MD, Medicine, Monopolies and Malice, 1996, Avery Publishing, Garden City, NJ pp. 121, 154-155.
Chiropractic Education, http://www.chirotips.com/chiropractic_education.htm
Doctors Are Doctors. Chiropractors are Chiropractors.
Your notion of a “real” doctor probably conforms to a prototype generated by the mass media.
Many have come to think of a doctor as someone who prescribes advice and drugs or performs surgery. Sporting a white lab coat or surgical scrubs with a stethoscope at the neck, doctors are seen as all-knowing, omnipotent and able to save patients in 60 minutes, less commercials.
A medical doctor (MD) and a chiropractor (DC) while different, have both received a degree from a government accredited medical school or chiropractic college and are licensed to practice.
But that’s where the similarity ends because each discipline looks at health and healing in very different ways.
Clearly, these are two very different philosophies. Yet, each has its place. If you have broken bones or you’re bleeding by the side of the road, you want the heroic lifesaving measures of emergency medical treatment. But if you have chronic aches and pains or an interest in wellness, you may want the health restoration possible that is the focus of chiropractic care.
Chiropractic Adjustments are Safe
The argument about safety concerns is an example of “junk science” and a perennial favorite by those who have an interest in discouraging people from seeking chiropractic care.
Because of the popularity of this tactic, year after year it has been the subject of countless research projects. The result of these studies show complications from neck adjustments, the supposedly “riskiest” chiropractic procedure, are exceedingly rare:
1972 – One death in several tens of million adjustments. 1
1978 – One in 10,000,000 neck adjustments. 2
1981 – One in a 1,000,000 neck adjustments. 3
1983 – Two to three per 1,000,000 adjustments. 4
1985 – One in 400,000 neck adjustments. 5
1993 – One in 3,846,153 neck adjustments. 6
1995 – One in 2,000,000 neck adjustments. 7
1996 – One in 900,000 neck adjustments. 8
The most recent in-depth review of the relationship between stroke and chiropractic care, was published in the February 15, 2008 issue of Spine Journal. It looked at 10 years of hospital records, involving 100 million person-years.
There was no evidence of an increase in vertebral artery dissection risk with chiropractic, compared with medical management. Based on this review, stroke, particularly vertebrobasilar dissection, should be considered a random and unpredictable complication of any neck movement, including cervical manipulation.
In other words, cases of serious injury are practically nonexistent. By comparison, it makes the deaths caused by over-the-counter-pain-relievers to be considerably more troubling! Although reports vary, annual deaths in the United States attributable to NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, ketoprofen and tiaprofenic acid) range from 3,200 to higher than 16,500 deaths and 76,000 hospitalizations.9
Even risk-adverse insurance companies recognize the safety of today’s chiropractic care. The premiums for malpractice insurance paid by chiropractors are a mere fraction of what medical practitioners must pay. Chiropractic care is safe.
1 Maigne R. Orthopedic Medicine: A New Approach to Vertebral Manipulations. Springfield, Illinois, Charles C. Thomas. 1972; 155, 169.2 Cyriax J. Textbook of Orthopaedic Medicine. Vol 1. Diagnosis of soft tissue lesions (7th edition). London, Bailliere Tindall. 1978; 165.3 Hosek RS, Schram SB, Silverman H, Meyers JB. Cervical Manipulation. J Amer Med Assoc. 1981; 245:922.
4 Gutmann G. Verletzungen der arteria vertebrailis durch manuelle therapie. Manuelle Medizin 1983; 21:2-14.
5 Dvorak J, Orelli F. How dangerous is manipulation of the cervical spine? Manuel Med 1985; 2:1-4.
6 Carey PF. A report on the occurrence of cerebrovasular accidents in chiropractic practice. J Canada Chiropractic Association 1993 (June);37 (2): 104-6.
7 Dabbs V Lauretti WJ. A risk assessment of cervical manipulation vs NSAIDS for the treatment of neck pain. J Manip Physio Ther 1995 (Oct); 18 (8): 530-6.
8 Klougart N, Leboeuf-Yde C, Rasmussen LR. Safety in Chiropractic Practice. J Manip Physiol Ther 1996 (Jul-Aug); 19 (6): 371-7.
9 Singh Gurkirpal, MD, “Recent Considerations in Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Gastropathy”, The American Journal of Medicine, July 27, 1998, p. 31S Wolfe M. MD, Lichtenstein D. MD, and Singh Gurkirpal, MD, “Gastrointestinal Toxicity of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs”, The New England Journal of Medicine, June 17, 1999, Vol. 340, No. 24, pp. 1888-1889.
Edward J. Frech and Mae F. Go, “Treatment and chemoprevention of NSAID-associated gastrointestinal complications”, Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, 2009, pp. 65-73
Fries James F., “NSAID Gastropathy: The Second Most Deadly Rheumatic Disease? Epidemiology and Risk Appraisal”, Journal of Rheumatology, 1991, (Supplement 28), Vol. 18, pp. 6-10
Bolten W., Lang B., Wagner A., and Krobot K., “Consequences and Costs of NSAID-Induced Gastropathy in Germany”, Akt Rheumotol, 1999, Vol. 24, pp. 127-134
Receive Care as Long as You Like
We’ve all heard the joke, “How many chiropractors does it take to change a light bulb? Only one but it takes 100 visits.”
The fact is, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Many folks choose to continue their chiropractic care on some type of periodic basis for the rest of their lives.
Others choose to see us from time to time for episodes of neck or back pain. It’s your choice. However, this concern is prompted by two common questions:
“Will I get addicted to chiropractic adjustments?”
No. Many people feel a pleasant sense of ease and well-being after their chiropractic adjustments. Some feel as though their power has been “turned on.”
Others feel more whole or “connected.” (This is what “normal” feels like!) Once people experience this feeling they often choose to adopt some type of ongoing schedule of care so they continue to feel this way all the time. It’s not an addiction.
“Why are so many visits necessary?”
By the time many people consult our practice, they’ve had their problem for some time. Retraining muscles and ligaments that support the spine takes time. Each visit builds on the ones before. Remember, you’re doing the healing, not the chiropractor!
How long you decide to benefit from chiropractic care is always up to you.
This is the “Let sleeping dogs lie” approach to health care! I feel fine. Why do I need to see a doctor?
That’s the problem with the lifestyle-induced health problems facing our culture. They quietly fester in the background, slowly worsening, often without any obvious symptom. Arterial plaque builds up. Blood pressure rises. Certain foods now cause heartburn. Every morning you get out of bed a little bit slower and stiffer. You hardly notice the incremental change.
Ironically, these are often the same folks who religiously change their oil and do other preventive maintenance to lengthen the life, appearance and performance of their car!
If you like being your very best, you’ll love visiting our practice. No shots. No yucky medicine. No “healthier-than-thou” attitude. No preaching.
Medical Doctor Approval
Most medical doctors are unfamiliar with chiropractic and the principles by which it works. Many are still operating under the policy perpetuated by the illegal boycott of chiropractors by the American Medical Association in the United States and the Australian Medical Association in Australia.
On September 25, 1987, a United States Federal judge ruled that the AMA had violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act, and that it had engaged in an unlawful conspiracy in restraint of trade “to contain and eliminate the chiropractic profession.” The judge issued a permanent injunction against the AMA under Section 16 of the Clayton Act to prevent such future behavior.
Fortunately, more and more enlightened medical doctors around the world see the value in chiropractic care.
“Instead of thinking of chiropractic as an alternative or some kind of therapy separate from other health care, we really should consider it equivalent.”1
Paul Shekelle, M.D., Ph.D.
The RAND Corporation
“If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” This is why I frequently refer patients to chiropractors as well as acupuncturists, massage therapists, osteopaths, or to any one I feel may have something to offer my patient.”2
David Perlmutter, M.D.
July 31, 1992, Volume 10, Issue 16
“I’m a surgeon, and chiropractors don’t threaten me. But they do threaten some of the primary care doctors. The bottom line is this: We’re supposed to take care of folks. If doctors cannot move a patient from one player to the next in a team, we’re not doing what we need to do.”3
Larry Teuber, MD
1 Brin, Dinah Wisenberg, July 2 1998, “Study Credits Chiropractors with Right Procedures,” The Scranton Times, 14+.2Dynamic Chiropractic, July 31, 1992, Volume 10, Issue 16.
3 “How medical doctors view chiropractic today” Journal of the American Chiropractic Association, Aug 1999.
Chiropractic For Children
Why would a child have a spine and nervous system problem? Traumatic births. Learning to walk. Slips. Falls. The list is endless. Yet, because children have such an adaptive capacity, these problems are often brushed off as “growing pains” or just a “phase they’re going through.”
“As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”
Many patients report that chiropractic care has been helpful for colic, ear infections, erratic sleeping habits, bedwetting, scoliosis, “growing pains” and many other common childhood health complaints.
The concern that many parents have is that chiropractic adjustments will be too forceful. They mistakenly think that their child will receive adjustments like ones they receive. Not only are adjusting techniques modified for each person’s size and unique spinal problem, an infant’s spine rarely has the long-standing muscle tightness seen in adults. This makes a child’s chiropractic adjustments gentle.
Knowing exactly where to adjust, newborns and infants are adjusted with no more pressure than you would use to test the ripeness of a tomato. Many parents have commented that they see almost instant improvements in the well-being of their child.
No Need For a Referral
You don’t need a referral or permission from anyone to see a chiropractor.
However, if you expect financial assistance from certain insurance plans, some policies dictate that certain approval steps be taken before commencing care. Sometimes these are granted freely and sometimes it’s virtually impossible.
Be careful that you don’t allow your health to be compromised by the profit motives of an insurance company or the petty bias or jealousy of a gatekeeper who doesn’t understand chiropractic!
It’s your body, your health and your future.
Chiropractic and Placebos
Some dismiss the results our patients receive as merely the placebo effect. These cynics virtually ignore the mind/body connection that most forward-thinking health care experts are finally acknowledging.
A placebo (from the Latin ‘I will please’) is often a sugar pill or some type of sham treatment designed to invoke the beliefs of the patient, and in the case of double blind studies, even the beliefs of the doctor. Some studies show that placebos can be 30% to 40% effective.
Should the consistent results that today’s chiropractic patient enjoys be simply chalked up to the placebo effect and a caring personality?
Hardly. While it’s helpful when the patient believes the care they’re receiving will help them, some chiropractors have seen positive results from helping newborns, infants and even animals for which the power of the believing mind is clearly not a factor.
If these myths were true, chiropractic would have disappeared long ago, just like bloodletting and countless other ineffective procedures. But not only has chiropractic survived, it’s thriving as more and more people want a safe and natural approach to better health that avoids drugs or surgery.