Are You Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution

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In an ongoing effort to figure out the problems that confront the chiropractic profession, I was struck by an ad I saw in my local newspaper. It was placed by a chiropractor who has been relatively successful in the profession for well over 20 years, not someone desperate to build a practice. The photo in the ad was someone holding their low back and the headline read “We’ve got your back.” Cute, but really it’s self-destructive.

We all realize that chiropractic cannot survive as a treatment for back problems. So why is it that we keep marketing ourselves as such? I guess one could accuse the chiropractor of only looking out for himself and not caring about the young chiropractors who will “starve” because there are not enough bad backs out there to support all the chiropractors (not to mention the physical therapists, masseuses, physicians and osteopaths) and who cannot afford to compete with him, either in reputation or in advertising space. So an ad like that one may get him a new patient or two but is self-destructive to the profession. Here is the really sad part. This chiropractor is a fine gentleman and he has a history of being concerned about the profession. He has been an active member of chiropractic associations for many years. So what’s going on?

Don’t we realize that chiropractic was never meant to be a treatment for bad backs or musculoskeletal problems? Chiropractors had the right idea in the beginning, adjusting subluxation to enable the body’s innate intelligence to be expressed more fully. Their only mistake was relating that service to people with all kinds of medical conditions. We got the reputation of believing we could cure anything and everything. There are still some chiropractors today who are promoting that idea by what they convey to people who come into their offices and by their advertising. Other chiropractors who wanted acceptance decided that we needed to “tone down” our claims and address areas that would be acceptable to the medical community, and hopefully to the public as well. They decided to promote the idea that as chiropractors “we got your back” and by inference only your back. This chiropractor seems to belong to that group. A third group of chiropractors has focused their attention on correcting subluxations, not for back problems but to enable the innate intelligence of the body to be expressed more fully in everybody. Besides the benefits to people they believed this was the only way to keep chiropractic from becoming a new therapy. It would enable the profession to maintain a unique and distinct place in society and not be in conflict with the healing arts.

Unfortunately, that is not the way most chiropractors have presented our profession. Consequently, most people think that as chiropractors “we’ve got their backs.” People have gotten that message loud and clear. Everybody knows that we chiropractors are back doctors and we are doing very little to change that perception. Then we wonder why our profession is dying. So now the question we must ask ourselves is, “are we part of the problem or part of the solution?” Being part of the problem means continuing along the same route we have been going. Being part of the solution means making a gigantic break, no longer telling people by our ads or by our actions that “we got your back.” That is not going to be easy. We are going to have to make a concerted effort, every day with every person we come in contact with to change their thinking. But first we need to change our thinking. Only then can we turn this thing around. V25n2

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