Chiropractors scream bloody murder when physical therapists try to obtain the right to “manipulate” the spine, saying the therapists are infringing upon the practice of chiropractic. Yet we have no qualms about attempting to infringe upon areas of medicine. When the medic cries “You are unqualified,” we say “They’re just upset because we are perhaps taking a few dollars out of their pockets.” Somehow when someone is trying to “steal” chiropractic, like the situation in California, it’s altogether different.
Come on gang, you can’t have it two ways! What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Eighty percent of the chiropractors in the country are practicing physical therapy and calling it chiropractic. Why shouldn’t the PT’s learn manipulation and call it physical therapy. We’re the ones who have broken down the boundaries, not the physical therapists.
We are the ones who have discarded our unique terminology in favor of medical, therapeutic terminology. That has been one of the biggest factors in destroying the boundaries. Manipulation, spinal manipulative therapy, lumbosacral strain, scoliosis, myofasciatis, disc degeneration, spondylitis, facet syndrome, and treatment are medical terms that the chiropractor has appropriated. When we talk like they do, copy their procedures, and in every way act like them, why shouldn’t they assume there is little difference between us and them. Medicine all along has said that there is little difference between what we do and what they do. Their antagonism against us has been that, while there is little difference in what we do, there is a big difference in out training. Right or wrong, that is their perception. We have screamed for their recognition for years. Finally the medical community is recognizing us. What greater recognition than to be copied by them. Now suddenly we’re upset by this flattery. We should be proud that they are finally acknowledging the value to what we do by doing it themselves.
While we’re on the subject, why shouldn’t the orthopedists practice adjusting under the umbrella of physical medicine? Chiropractors are practicing orthopedics (spine straightening, joint manipulation, sprains and strains) under the banner of chiropractic. Why shouldn’t the average M.D. begin to manipulate. Are not most of the “broad scope chiropractors” really practicing a form of drugless general medicine?
This entire issue raises a question regarding the profession’s concern for humanity. While our profession has nearly doubled in numbers in the past 15 years, many studies indicate that we are not serving a much larger segment of society then we were 15 years ago. If that is the case we should be happy that someone else is adjusting subluxated spines. Physical therapists get patients from M.D.’s so the patient has had excellent diagnostic screening, better than in most chiropractor’s offices. His manipulation skills have to be as good or almost as good as most chiropractors. So what’s the big deal. The more people adjusting spines the better or is it that we don’t really care about people but only care about our own selfish desires?
It seems that there are two choices to be made. first, we can let everybody do whatever he or she desires. No guidelines, no restrictions, everybody incorporating whatever procedures seem to be best for that particular patient at that particular moment. The dentist can deliver babies, the podiatrists fill cavities. If that is the case then, “caveat emptor.” Let the buyer beware! Let the marketplace determine the professional practices. That philosophy, on the surface, appears to be the best approach in the free society. However, a little more careful thought and observation clearly shows the danger of that approach.
Optometrists doing brain surgery, obstetricians practicing podiatry, physical therapists adjusting spines, chiropractors practicing physiotherapy and medicine? Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it, when it’s put that way? Yet three fourths of our profession, in principle, think the above is okay! It’s alright for D.C.’s to practice PT or medicine, oh, but when your ox is gored it’s time to stand up and scream and write letters to the State Board of Examiners.
The other choice is that each profession establish its unique objectives and then confine its efforts to those objective. Each profession should create laws and police its ranks in accordance with those objectives. It seems that, in reality, almost all the professions have done just that. All except the chiropractic profession. We are out there trying to steal from everyone else. When someone then tries to steal the only thing that is uniquely ours (the adjustment) we yell “foul.” We are like the pickpocket who comes home from a “day’s work” and is indignantly livid because somebody has stolen his wallet!
What is most interesting is that the ones who cry the loudest about “manipulation” being stolen are those who mix manipulation with physical therapy and general medicine. The straights very rarely get involved in the issue. Perhaps it’s because they have a stated objective, that of correcting vertebral subluxations to enable the body to work at maximum potential. They realize that the California physical therapists are not stealing our objective, just merely using manipulation to meet their objective (treating disease). The straight sees physical therapists as being no more a threat to chiropractic than the osteopath who was manipulating long before the chiropractor was adjusting.
The choices are clear. We can enter into petty, interprofessional fighting, name calling, challenging other professionals as being incompetent and dangerous just as the medics have done to us for years. Or we can establish our separate identity with its unique objectives and not worry, no matter how much manipulating the osteopath, the physical therapists, or the medical doctors do or even the dentist (there is an orthodontist in this are that uses S.O.T.). Stealing our techniques without stealing our objectives is no threat to us. Chiropractic without its objectives is no more than osteopathy and osteopathy has never been a threat to us. Why? Because the objective of osteopathy is to treat disease by, among other things, manipulation. As long as our objective is restoration of the integrity of the nerve system by correcting a vertebral subluxation and not the treatment of disease we have nothing to fear.

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