What About Chiropractic?

A couple of my patients who read Synergy have asked me why I have only written about other health related subjects and not directly about chiropractic. In truth, there are two reasons for not having done so. The first is that after nearly 30 years of practice, chiropractic is so much a part of my daily existence that I’m almost too familiar with it. It’s almost like asking someone "what’s it like to breathe?” The second is sensitivity about self- promotion. We live in a world of hyperbole, where often the message exceeds the substance, that bothers me and I don’t wish to engage in it.

Having said all this, there are many people who harbor misconceptions about Chiropractic and would benefit from a few facts. Those who like to stay current with health research might be interested in some recent medical studies, a couple of which even surprised me.

Education: Chiropractors have approximately the same number of university hours as General Medical Practitioners give or take. There are nearly thirty Chiropractic colleges around the globe, the two in Canada are totally funded by tuition and the profession; no taxpayer dollars fund Chiropractic education.

Chiropractic colleges maintain rigorous standards in order to retain their accreditation. Practicing Chiropractors have passed both national and provincial licensing exams. Our activities are governed by provincial statute as well as a college board, of which some appointees are members of the public. In Canada, Chiropractors are the third most common group of doctors [for humans] after Physicians and Dentists.

Safety: Despite occasional fear mongering from other health [professionals?] Chiropractic is extremely safe. The only risk worth mentioning is that of stroke associated with neck adjustments. That risk is only a tiny fraction of the risk of over the counter pain relievers for example, and is comparable with other daily activities such as backing out of the driveway or exercising.

Diagnosis: Chiropractors are primary health practitioners. This means that like Physicians [and unlike most therapists] they have extensive education in diagnosis. You don’t need a referral to see a Chiropractor and can expect to receive a diagnosis and referral to another health practitioner if your needs are best met elsewhere.

Evidence: In 1978 when I first began practice, my Physician told me "I’d like to refer patients to you, but I haven’t seen much medical evidence for the value of Chiropractic”. At that time, he was somewhat correct. Although there was nearly 100 years of chiropractic history and successful care, scientific proof was limited. Times have changed, even if some referral habits haven’t. There is now more medical research published in medical journals validating Chiropractic for back and neck pain, than any other form of care.

The following are samples of findings taken from medical research published in medical journals.

• Chiropractic has a higher satisfaction level for arthritis sufferers than other complimentary therapies [Ann Intern Med]

• Chiropractic patients are more satisfied with acute low back pain care than medical patients [Spine]

• Manual therapy [Chiropractic] is better than physiotherapy or general practitioner for non-specific neck pain [Ann Intern Med]

• There is more evidence supporting manipulation for cervicogenic headaches than surgery, injection or TENS [The Spine]

• Twelve percent drop in total health care costs when chiropractic is fully covered by health insurance [Archives of Internal Medicine].

This last one should be read by policy makers, it would result in a saving of roughly two billion health care dollars per year in Canada. Space here doesn’t permit elaboration but if you want to know more, talk to your Chiropractor.

Dr. Pepperdine is from Southcare Chiropractic in Nanaimo. He can be reached at 755-1554.