Monday, March 7, 2011


Nowadays, Chiropractic medicine is an accepted paradigm of health care and treatment. But it was not always like that. Today our society considers these practitioners as in a health care discipline that emphasizes diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the vertebrae under the hypothesis that these disorders affect general health via the nervous system. The main chiropractic treatment involves manipulation of the spine, other joints, and soft tissues; treatment also includes exercises and health and lifestyle counseling.

D.D. Palmer founded chiropractic in the 1890s and his son B.J. Palmer helped to expand it in the early 20th century. It has two main groups: "straights", now the minority, emphasize vitalism, innate intelligence and spinal adjustments, and consider vertebral subluxations to be the cause of all disease; "mixers" are more open to mainstream and alternative medical techniques such as exercise, massage, and nutrition. With the advent of X-Ray and the noise of a joint going back into the proper position, Chiropractic is here to stay! The so called pop is caused by the tendons or in the back the apophyseal joint causing a vacuum as it is pulled and suddenly let go-in physics called a cavitation.

The premise of chiropractic assumes a vertebral subluxation or spinal joint dysfunction interferes with the body's function and its Innate Intelligence. This vitalistic concept states that all life contains Innate Intelligence and that this force is responsible for the organization, maintenance and healing of the body. Removal of the interference to the nervous system spinal adjustment so that when the spine is in correct alignment, Innate Intelligence can act, by way of the nervous system, to heal disease within the body. However, until 1987 Chiropractic was considered a cult by the AMA of which I was a member. My experience though with the profession was that it greatly helped folks with back problems and I frequently referred patients to them.

In 1975, I was approached by the Missouri State Medical Board that my license was at stake if I continued using chiropractors as part of the “healing profession”. I was incensed that I could not practice what I thought was best for my patient. Most MDs then thought that if time and physical therapy did not work, then give heavy pain meds or sent them to orthopedic surgeons. Many were operated on and suffered a “failed back”. I was so disturbed by this that I testified in Chicago in 1976, with Chester Wilk and four other chiropractors against the AMA and several nationwide healthcare associations. This was finally resolved in 1987 after a second trial that Chiropratic did help folks indeed and in need.

The triad of Innate Intelligence, Force, and Matter espoused by Palmer a hundred years ago has gone by the wayside. Modern chiropractors study these principles in college and these ideas are seen as historical references to early chiropractic philosophy and pseudoscience. Chiropractors in Australia, England and Germany are Medical Doctors (M.D.s) who specialize in spinal manipulation and many of the techniques used by their American counterparts. A profession that originally did similar healings, the Osteopaths, but now do very little Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy took some of the slack here up. They mostly practice what we as MDs do. After four years of postgraduate (Chiropractic School) training, the student is awarded a Doctorate in Chiropractic- a D.C. Until recently most schools were privately funded, but now they are beginning to see them as part of Universities. Chiropractic is here to stay in America and I feel it is part of the holistic movement of good patient care.

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