Subluxation Based Chiropractic


In the past I have made clear my disdain for the term “subluxation-based chiropractic.” I have never liked it because I feel that any description with only “subluxation” in it is inadequate. The correction of subluxation is the means to an end. Unless you describe the means and the end, you have inadequately described your professional objective. Correcting subluxation can be done for many reasons including pain relief, curing disease or its cause, making money, etc. For the objective straight chiropractor, the objective or purpose is to enable the innate intelligence of the body to be more fully expressed. Admittedly, without including the means to achieve that objective, correcting vertebral subluxation, you cannot clearly define that you are a chiropractor. That is what words are for, to clearly communicate ideas. However, to include only what you do can be deceiving.

I have always felt that those who promoted the use of the term “subluxation-based chiropractic” over straight chiropractic or objective straight chiropractic did so to confuse or undermine the purpose of straight chiropractic. It is significant that objective straight chiropractic is unique, not like anything else. We are not therapeutic chiropractic with its treatment of musculoskeletal dysfunction. We are not traditional chiropractic with its “chiropractic gets sick people well.” We are not “one cause” (i.e., vertebral subluxation) “one cure” (i.e., adjustment) chiropractic. Objective straight chiropractic maintains the unique goal of correcting vertebral subluxation to enable the innate intelligence to be expressed more fully. Nothing more, nothing less.

Have you ever noticed that the more people say on a subject, the more their true thinking or their true position emerges? I believe that having written this publication for almost 15 years I have made it pretty clear where I stand on issues. Recently, the subluxation-based chiropractors demonstrated the truth behind their position in an unprecedented fashion, making some powerful statements in print. It seems all along their goal has been to undermine straight chiropractic, to destroy the position that straight chiropractic is an approach to chiropractic that is like nothing else. That uniqueness has been the foundation of the straight chiropractic position for 25 years. It is why we resisted joining the CCE when all the other schools, including the traditional ones, jumped on the bandwagon and, in effect, obscured the difference. It is why we had to add the adjective “straight” to our colleges’ names and ultimately, because those who would confuse said they were also straight, that some of us have tacked on the additional adjective “objective.” It is true, you are either straight or you are not but we felt the need to emphasize that there is a difference, hence a different descriptive adjective in front of straight. But now their nefarious scheme is crystal clear.

In a recent subluxation-based periodical, written by the vice president of a subluxation-based organization, some very interesting statements were made in an article titled, “What Kind of Chiropractor are You?” The author of the article (a non-chiropractor) says that the terms straight and mixer “have now been replaced by the more descriptive terms ‘subluxation-based chiropractors’ and ‘allopathic chiropractors.'” As a side note, who gave an insurance salesman the right to reclassify chiropractors and why did not anybody tell me this?! You would think that such a monumental change would have been jointly announced by the ICA/ACA/WCA/FSCO, not in a column usually dedicated to advertising a malpractice insurance carrier.

(To clarify, I submit the following diagram which demonstrates the various classifications since 1973.)

In 1973, it became clear that what had been recognized as straight chiropractic (hands only/spine only to correct the cause of disease) was no longer consistent with our increased understanding of the chiropractic philosophy. This created a split in the straight chiropractic community. Without the restraining force of the more philosophical chiropractors (those who would eventually become objective straight chiropractors), many straight chiropractors became conservative mixers. I am certain that being paid by insurance companies for certain therapeutic procedures also contributed to that exodus. Because of these changes, the need for a clearer/better classification of chiropractors to accommodate all schools of thought in a non-judgmental manner again came into question. The pure objective straight chiropractor’s position is either that you are practicing (objective straight) chiropractic or you are practicing something else (medicine). In a strict sense, that is absolutely true. But in an effort to respect all legally acceptable approaches to the practice of chiropractic, we have developed more categories.

The author of the article ignores these categories entirely and goes back to before 1973 when there were only straights (what he calls “subluxation-based”) and mixers. He does distinguish between two different types of subluxation-based practitioners. His categorizations follow.

Subluxation-based Class One: This group includes hands only/spine only chiropractors and those who use massage, hot and cold packs, orthotics, traction, extremity adjusting, non-invasive modalities, nutritional supplements and exercise as long as the above are used to “help patients hold their adjustments,” to aid in the correction of subluxation, or to help patients live a subluxation-free life. There are major philosophical problems with that idea but that is not the issue of this article. The interesting part is that this category also includes objective straight chiropractors.

Subluxation-based Class Two: This group includes chiropractors who correct subluxations for the purpose of treating medical conditions, as long as those conditions are of a musculoskeletal nature. They diagnose and treat structural conditions and can use electrical stimulation, ultrasound, diathemy, whirlpool, cryo-therapy, homeopathy, etc. Remember they are still “subluxation-based”.

Allopathic Chiropractor: This group includes the “doctor who focuses on full body diagnosis and/or treats specific disease and conditions.” It is all terribly confusing and I believe it is meant to be.

The intent of the term “subluxation- based” is clear from this article. It is not just a nice way of describing 85% of the chiropractors who happen to share the fact that they check people for a subluxation regardless of the variety in intent, method or frequency. “Subluxation-based” is a term designed to do away with the “straight” in straight chiropractic and in so doing to destroy the uniqueness of the approach. By these classifications, everything may be lumped together in one of the two classes of subluxation-based chiropractic. However, the very nature of objective straight chiropractic does not allow lumping together. Objective straight chiropractic is separate and distinct. After all these years, the individuals and the two national organizations who perpetuate the term “subluxation-based” have finally shown that their true motive is to destroy not only the word “straight” but the practice. Clearly, it is time for those who see chiropractic as the correction of subluxation so the inborn wisdom of the body can be more fully expressed, nothing more and nothing less, to stand up and refuse to accept any validity to the term “subluxation-based.”  Objective straight chiropractic practice cannot be mixed with anything else, regardless of the altruistic motive (supposed or real) of the adjunct. Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that traditional chiropractors want to be lumped together with people who use physical therapeutics. For these chiropractors who practice in the traditional B.J. Model (chiropractic gets sick people well) it is time for some soul searching. They need to recognize that their relating to disease falls outside the realm of straight chiropractic and that really they are part of mixing chiropractic. No matter what kind of straight chiropractor you are, it is important to know that the term “subluxation-based” is a euphemism for mixing chiropractic. As an objective straight chiropractor I do not wish to endorse it or be a part of it. v15n2

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