Years ago when I graduated from medical school it was unethical to have any professional contact with chiropractors. After seeing how ineffective we were at managing lower back pain I considered learning some chiropractic techniques. Does chiropractic therapy have anything to offer those with chronic illnesses?
Chiropractic therapy was founded in the United States in the late 1800s. It was one of several approaches to health care that emerged at this time. Unlike mainstream medicine otherwise known as allopathic medicine chiropractic medicine assumes all illnesses originate in a single source. Allopathic medicine assumes that therapy can come from many sources and their current model of disease can be referred to as a bio psychosocial model. Thus to me osteopathy seems like a cardiologist claiming that all the ills one can suffer can be treated by treating the heart.
The other tenets of chiropractic medicine sound more familiar.. A conservative approach using the least harmful therapy we can all ascribe to. Unfortunately most professionals believe in what they’re doing and have only limited understanding of what others can offer their patients. If a patient came to me I was apt to prescribe medication because that was what I was trained to do. Over the years I learned others might have better options. We now expect a healthcare provider to attempt to explain the options and make referrals as the patient chooses. I have seen the good and the bad medications and surgery can do.
The third tenant of chiropractic medicine is the concept of homeostasis. This means that the body will try to heal itself. This was the point I was attempting to make in my blog, “your doctor won’t cure you”. If our bodies didn’t have an innate ability to heal itself life would not exist.
How do chiropractors approach illness?
Chiropractors initially believed that all illnesses could be traced to derangements of the spine. The spine contains the spinal cord through which the brain communicates with most parts of the body. thus if those communications are altered or interrupted the body would be out of alignment. We have all seen people with pinched nerves or major spinal cord injuries. Chiropractors however assume that subtle now alignment of the spine can cause illnesses that have little if anything to do with the spinal cord. In the United States it would be illegal for a chiropractor to claim he was treating diabetes. Studies have however, have shown that chiropractic medicine can be a helpful adjunct in treating lower back problems. There is more controversy about how effective they are treating other musculoskeletal problems.
Besides the spinal manipulation there is a therapeutic benefit of interpersonal contact and of touch. There is a concept of therapeutic personality. I had several patients tell me they felt better just coming to see me. I was also convinced that many people suffering with the flu were at the point where they were going to get better when they decided to do something about their illness. Taking charge of your health can be therapeutic in and of itself.
Humans are also tactile animals we love to be held and touched. As we grow older we have experienced touching that was not so pleasant. But at times I felt a hug could be therapeutic. After dealing with the carnage of an horrendous accident, in which two kids were killed I had to hug my children.
Could chiropractors be therapeutic and other ways? Could they be therapeutic just because they’re not MDs? What have been your experience with chiropractors?
As All Ways, Seek Joy,
Coach Dr. Dave
author of the forthcoming book,, “Recipes for lemonade (thriving through disability ): Dr. Dave’s personal recipe”