Research-The Greatest Threat to the Future of Chiropractic

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Okay, now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you what I really think; research is the greatest threat to the future of chiropractic! I know that thinking will not make a lot of chiropractors happy. I probably will lose a few of my remaining friends, something I really cannot afford but I have to be honest about this.

Earlier this year one of our chiropractic leaders published an article that maintained research was “The Only Way To Validate Chiropractic.” Before reading too far into the article, it becomes clear that it is an infomercial for some new recordkeeping software. The inference, however, is that we need research and documentation to validate our professional objective. We find ourselves in this position because of our profession’s low self esteem, which has caused us to walk around with slumped shoulders while the medical profession has castigated us because we have no research to back up our claims of chiropractic’s effectiveness. The problem is that the medical profession does not know what we do. They think that we cure diseases by adjusting subluxations. (Now where in the world could they have gotten that crazy idea!?) So they conclude that there is no way that we can prove that. They already have “proven” cures for diseases with drugs and other medical procedures. Here is an interesting thought: some in our profession claim that medicine does not work, yet medicine has the data (their research) to prove that it does. So how do we negate their claims and show that chiropractic is a superior approach to getting sick people well? We do research. Duh! We reject their research, but want to do our own. Either their research is fraudulent or research is inadequate to prove cures for disease or both approaches effectively treat disease and we need to do research to find which is more effective, ours or theirs.

Unfortunately, most chiropractic research is done to prove that chiropractic is an effective approach to addressing medical problems. The article actually notes that “research and clinical science project…will definitely link subluxations to specific health conditions…and demonstrate the beneficial outcomes possible with chiropractic adjustments.” Is that what we really want to do? Do we really want to prove that we are an effective approach to treating one medical condition, musculoskeletal problems, under certain conditions? In fact, we have done such a good job that the medical community has, by and large, acknowledged the benefit of what we do in that arena. (Of course they are adopting our approach, but that’s another issue.)

Here is the problem and the reason research is such a threat to our profession: the more conditions we research to demonstrate the benefits of chiropractic care in the alleviation of those problems, the more we become part of medicine (treating diseases). Our research has demonstrated that we have limited effectiveness in certain medical conditions. Continued research will likely demonstrate that we have greater effectiveness in other medical conditions. Given enough research we will be an accepted, mainstream medical profession and some chiropractors would be perfectly happy with that. Research can get us there, eventually, if that is where we want to be. In my opinion, however, that would destroy chiropractic, at least the true greatness of our profession.

You see, the greatness of chiropractic will never be its ability to get sick people well better than or as good as medicine without the harmful side effects. Its greatness will never be in its ability to prove by research its effectiveness in addressing medical conditions. The uniqueness and the greatness of chiropractic is not even its focus on vertebral subluxation and its correction and that relationship to disease. Its greatness and uniqueness is in its focus on and relationship to the inborn wisdom of the body, this metaphysical principle, which cannot be empirically demonstrated and hence, cannot be researched. Our greatness is built upon the ability of the innate intelligence to run, heal and adapt the organism when we remove interference to its full expression. The more we research, the less we will talk about, focus upon, or educate the public about innate intelligence and it is that concept and that alone that separates us from medicine. Whether we acknowledge it or not, it is that which sets us apart as a profession and keeps us a profession, and, in the end, makes us great.

I realize that some out there will argue that we can do vitalistic research and that we can do research that is not condition or medically driven. I have not really seen any of it. Most of the philosophically sound research is merely for our benefit, to help us better locate, analyze, and correct vertebral subluxations and that is helpful intra-professionally. However, the research that most in our profession are looking for and the research that the medical community is demanding will not benefit the chiropractic that was intended by our forefathers to benefit all of humanity. It will have just the opposite effect. It will make us a branch of the medical community and in so doing, limit our benefit to people with certain medical conditions rather than every member of the human race. V24n1

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