Acceptance and Chiropractic

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Our profession continues to vacillate between attacking the medical establishment and craving acceptance from it.  I think both extremes have caused many of our profession’s present problems.  D.D. wanted acceptance from the community and tried to get it by attacking medicine.  In this manner, chiropractic received a certain degree of acceptance but only as a last ditch effort to relieve conditions that medicine could not.  Those with no problems and those who thought they were satisfactorily treated by medicine had no use for chiropractic care.  In fact, those who were helped by chiropractic usually had no further use for it.

As medicine improved in meeting its disease-treating objective, B.J. pushed for acceptance by the scientific community.  His attempts at this were hallmarked by trying to prove that chiropractic was superior to medicine and its methods, by noting that chiropractic addressed the cause and did not have the dangerous side effects of medicine.  Unfortunately, B.J. was never able to prove that a body free of nerve interference could heal itself better and faster than one with drugs or surgery, mostly because the chiropractic idea of healing and that of medicine/science are worlds apart.  One deals with inside-out (the creation of living tissue), the other with outside-in (the relief of symptoms).  After B.J.’s death, his son Dave wanted acceptance by the educational community and he helped put the wheels in motion that have led to many of the problems we now have in chiropractic education.

We attack medicine but we want to be accepted as equal to the medical doctor.  We criticize the medical doctor’s ability to diagnose and treat disease, knowing full well that our education is not nearly as complete as his is with regard to materia medica.  We want government recognition yet we are willing to sue the government based upon the contentions of one person.  We brag about how studies have shown that chiropractic is effective for low back pain.  We point with pride to this independent research that substantiates our ability to take care of that condition.  But we also want to say that we can effectively treat 28 other conditions without a shred of substantiating research.  We may phrase our claims in terms like “chiropractors do not treat…” or “we correct the cause” but the message to the public is that chiropractic treats those 28 conditions.  We cannot have it both ways.  If we are going to use Rand, et al to support our claims for the treatment of low back pain, then we have decided to play in the research/science arena which negates our right to make claims outside that arena.  If we are going to prove chiropractic by research, then we must stick to low back pain because that is all we have scientifically proven.  If we want to claim chiropractic as an effective treatment for other diseases, then we need to play by the same rules and prove it like we did low back pain and stop making claims until we have that proof.  This is the standard by which the treatment of medical conditions is proven.  If we disagree with this standard, then we are really questioning the validity of the whole research/scientific system (which is open to criticism).  However, if we do reject this system, then we have negated the validity of Rand, et al because that was the method used.  We are between a rock and a hard place.  If we accept the validity of research, we can only claim low back pain and have to acknowledge that medicine is the only proven effective treatment for the other 28 conditions.  If we say that their research is flawed, then we have, in fact, negated the use of it in supporting what we do in terms of low back pain.

The philosophy of chiropractic, in my opinion, is the most honest, forthright, consumer-oriented approach to health that this country has ever seen.  For us to produce materials that would cause the government to claim our public education is misleading is a travesty.  If we, as a profession, said that we believe chiropractic can cure cancer in two visits, I think the FTC would leave us alone.  They may think us crazy (and they would be right) but they would have to respect our first amendment rights.  But, if we said or even inferred that scientific studies show that chiropractic can cure cancer in two visits, then they would have every right to come down on us.  The government sees that difference.  I see that difference.  I guess some of our profession does not. v15n2

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