25 May 2000
Alternative Medicine: Chiropractic
Chiropractic is the third largest doctoral-level health profession in the United States, after medicine and dentistry. This form of health care is on the rise and there are more than forty thousand chiropractors in practice in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and many other nations. Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine commonly used and accepted today. Chiropractic is specifically defined as a therapeutic system of curing ailments and manipulation of various body parts, particularly the spinal column. Although chiropractors have had a hard time establishing a worthy reputation, times have changed and studies are proving the benefits of chiropractic. In order for people to receive natural, holistic, efficient, and cost-effective treatment, people should seek doctors of chiropractic. (Thesis: In order for…)
Chiropractic was first started by David Daniel Palmer in 1895. Palmer began his practices in magnetic healing in response to his never-ending thirst for knowledge in 1887 (Chiropractic OnLine Today). When he moved to Davenport, Iowa, Palmer began chiropractic with his first adjustment on a janitor on September 18, 1895. The janitor had been deaf for seventeen years after hearing a pop in his back one day. Palmer concluded that one of his vertebrae was out of place and so he thrusted the vertebrae back into place and the man’s hearing automatically improved (Chiropractic OnLine Today). This was the birth of the chiropractic theory, which means to do by hand. Palmer believed that decreased nerve flow may be the cause of disease, and that misplaced spinal vertebrae may cause pressure on the nerves (Chiropractic OnLine Today). In conclusion, he theorized, if the spinal column was accurately positioned, the body would be healthy. Palmer began a chiropractic school, Palmer Infirmary and Chiropractic Institute, in 1907. His son, Bartlett Joshua, was one of the first fifteen graduated. Later in his life, Bartlett also had a large impact on the chiropractic field when his dad ran into some legal problems. Palmer’s son took over the school and helped chiropractic to gain prominence in the medical field. Following its founding, chiropractic went downhill and then in the 1940’s began to grow again. In July 1995, the first Historical Centennial Celebration took place in Washington, DC with thousands of professional in the field attending. (Background)
Chiropractic is holistic and concerned with a patient’s overall well-being. Chiropractic treatment considers the whole person and gives special treatment to the physiological and biochemical aspects including structural, spinal, musculoskeletal, neurological, vascular, nutritional, emotional, and environmental relationships(American Chiropractic Association). Many people initially think of consulting a chiropractor for back pain only, but there are many other components of chiropractic treatment and has the ability to help many illnesses and problems. Because the spine is like the trunk of the body, it can have impact on all areas of the human structure. The many moveable parts of the spine make it a complex system. In addition to the twenty-four vertebrae, there are joints between each vertebra. In such a system, in order to maintain balance, each one these joints must be moving entirely and properly (Bayuk). If just one component is out of line, the imbalance disturbs the nervous system, called subluxation. Chiropractic helps the body keep control of itself through manipulation of the spinal column. While the spine helps control the muscles of the body, it also includes the body’s ability to breathe properly, keep the heart beating, and other vital functions. The spine column has many nerves that control the blood flow through blood vessels, proper digestion, and the immune system. Just because chiropractors focus on the spinal column, does not limit their field of treatment. In actuality, this very fact is what allows chiropractic to help such a broad range of problems and conditions. For example, a 1991 study at National College of Chiropractic renders very promising news for women suffering from tortuous menstruation. This FCER-funded study found that women who received chiropractic spinal manipulation reported significant reduction in back pain and menstrual distress(Joseph, Chiropractic Works). Along with menstruation, headaches, allergies, asthma, stomach disorders, spastic colon, and arm, hand, and leg pain are treatable by chiropractors. (Evidence #1)
Chiropractic, in addition to holistic, is efficient and cost-effective. Until recently, chiropractic was ignored by most others, but new studies are confirming claims of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Now chiropractic is receiving much more notice. While research is convincing the community of the effectiveness of cost and capability of treatment of the chiropractic method, thousands of people, worldwide, are finding restored mobility and alleviation from pain in their doctor of chiropractic. Results of a Florida study indicated chiropractic patients experienced shorter periods of total disability, and their cost of care was less in comparison to patients of medical doctors. Another Utah study reported that chiropractic care was ten times less expensive than standard medical care in compensation pay-outs ( Joseph, Chiropractic Works). In addition, a report in the Western Journal of Medicine found that patients of chiropractors were three times more satisfied with their care than patients of family practice physicians ( Joseph, Chiropractic Works). Health care options are becoming more diverse and it is evident that chiropractic will be a choice for many. (Evidence #2)
Another benefit of chiropractic is that it is natural. This is one of the primary characteristics that distinguishes chiropractic doctors from medical doctors. Chiropractic does not use drugs or surgery. The body heals and maintains itself. It is the chiropractor’s job to make sure that the body is in balance and capable of doing its job on its own. Chiropractic uses a form of treatment called vertebral adjustment or spinal manipulation. An adjustment is a procedure in which a chiropractor skillfully applies pressure to a region of the spine that is out of alignment. It is often done by hand and helps lessen pain and inflammation. Chiropractors also perform soft tissue manipulation through muscle massages and ultrasound stimulation, physical examinations, X rays, counseling on lifestyle and nutrition, and counseling on exercises for building flexibility, strength, and overall well-being. However, chiropractors refer patients to another health care provider if the patient’s condition or disease would be better treated through other medical approaches. In most cases, chiropractors do not treat conditions of cancer, internal injuries, lacerations and cuts, fractures of bones and chronic ailments such as diabetes. Patients with these prognoses are referred to a medical doctor by the chiropractor. (Evidence #3)
Is a chiropractor really a doctor? Absolutely! (Joseph, Chiropractic Myth Busters). For a long time, millions of Americans rejected chiropractic treatment because they were thought to be quacks by many medical doctors. But, now that studies are supporting chiropractic treatment, people are beginning to comprehend that these doctors, just like medical doctors, take a strict course of study to receive a degree of Doctor of Chiropractic. After students completing high school, at least two years of college and four to five years of chiropractic college must be completed. Students take basic science courses as well as clinical science courses. In addition to school, a clinical internship is required. Upon graduation, a chiropractor is not permitted to practice just yet. First he or she must pass a licensing exam administered by the state or the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, or both. Most boards rely on a three-part examination to test basic sciences, clinical sciences, and clinical competency. A fourth part has newly been introduced to evaluate practical skills. Chiropractors are licensed in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. There is no reason one should be concerned or stressed about the credentials of a chiropractor. To verify a doctor’s professional credentials, one can call the state’s Chiropractic Board of Examiners to validate if a particular chiropractor is licensed and up to date with continuing education conditions. A concerned patient can also ask if there is any record of disciplinary actions. The prerequisites to become a chiropractic doctor prepare the doctors well and are extremely difficult. It takes a well educated, hard worker, and disciplined individual to accomplish such intense requirements. Students graduated and in practice are sufficiently trained to treat the body in a natural, holistic, efficient, and cost-effective manner. (Refutation and concluding statement)
American Chiropractic Association. 1999.
Bayuk, Andrew, D.C. What is Chiropractic? 1989.
Chiropractic OnLine Today. Chiropractic Centennial Celebration. 2000.
Joseph, Louis, D.C. Chiropractic Works. November 1999.
Joseph, Louis, D.C. Chiropractic Myth Busters. November 1999.