Myths and Facts
Chiropractic is Scientific
How do you define "scientific?"
It's a scientific fact that your nervous system controls everything.
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
Today's chiropractic education has an emphasis on science.
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. The verdict? 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.
- Maigne R. Orthopedic Medicine: A New Approach to Vertebral Manipulations. Springfield, Illinois, Charles C. Thomas. 1972; 155, 169.
- Cyriax J. Textbook of Orthopaedic Medicine. Vol 1. Diagnosis of soft tissue lesions (7th edition). London, Bailliere Tindall. 1978; 165.
- Hosek RS, Schram SB, Silverman H, Meyers JB. Cervical Manipulation. J Amer Med Assoc. 1981; 245:922.
- Gutmann G. Verletzungen der arteria vertebrailis durch manuelle therapie. Manuelle Medizin 1983; 21:2-14.
- Dvorak J, Orelli F. How dangerous is manipulation of the cervical spine? Manuel Med 1985; 2:1-4.
- Carey PF. A report on the occurrence of cerebrovasular accidents in chiropractic practice. J Canada Chiropractic Association 1993 (June);37 (2): 104-6.
- 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.
- Klougart N, Leboeuf-Yde C, Rasmussen LR. Safety in Chiropractic Practice. J Manip Physiol Ther 1996 (Jul-Aug); 19 (6): 371-7.
- 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