What are we trying to accomplish in straight chiropractic, besides the actual correction of the subluxation? We are developing in the patient a knowledge of the importance of a systematic approach to the correction of vertebral subluxation and the continued monitoring and subsequent adjusting for the rest of their lives when necessary. We call it “patient education.” It is done so the human organism can express a little more of what it was intended to be. We are not presenting chiropractic as a drugless aspirin. We are not presenting the subluxation correction as a quick fix to an individuals ailments, acute or chronic. Because of this approach, we do not have to worry about correcting every vertebral subluxation on the first visit. What we are doing when a new patient walks into our office is developing an EASE restoration and maintenance program that will take place over a lifetime. It does not have to be done in one visit, one week, or one month. In fact it cannot. It is very much analogous to an exercise program. Some people develop a crash exercise program to lose 30 pounds in four weeks. They usually abuse their body, perhaps doing more harm than good. They are often unsuccessful and if they get the desired results, those results usually do not last. Other people, perhaps with the same weight problem, will develop an exercise program with the idea that it is for health for life. Their program may be less strenuous and will show less dramatic results. But it will be more enjoyable and the ultimate results will be greater, spread out over a lifetime. Straight chiropractic care is analogous to the latter approach. It is not necessary for us to worry about correcting every vertebral subluxation every time in certain situations or under certain circumstances. We can feel comfortable in modifying our “program” so as to avoid areas of pain, unstable areas of the spine, places where trauma and medically diagnosed disease are said to be present. After all if you view that patient as a regular lifetime patient, there is no need for the “crash program” type practice. The chiropractors who have “crash program patients” know that they need to get results in a short time. As much as they tell themselves they are not treating that bad back and even as much as they tell the patient they are not treating their bad back, they know they better get results in a certain amount of time. The “crash-program D.C.” is the one who tends toward neurological orthopedic tests. He feels he must correct that vertebral subluxation in 5L or the patient will not get better and will not come back and can never be “converted” into a lifetime patient. Hence he must do neurological orthopedic tests to determine whether it is safe to thrust into the 5L area. The point is that you are going to lose patients no matter what you do. No chiropractor has ever kept for lifetime care every patient who walked into his/her office. Now, you can lose them for the right reason or lose them for the wrong reason. You can lose them, because they wanted “crash-program chiropractic” and you do not provide that by 1) using questionable medical procedures (modalities) to make them feel better or 2) using questionable medical procedures (neurological orthopedic tests) to determine whether it is safe to administer adjustments into questionable areas of the spine. You simply say, “Sorry, we do not provide that type of care.” Still don’t get it? I can tell by the wrinkled brows some of you do not! Let’s go back to our exercise analogy. You are running a “straight” exercise gym, spa, health club, or whatever they’re called. You accept clients for a lifetime exercise program. Your program is based upon the person’s coming in regularly for the rest of his/her life. That’s your system. One day this 47 year old guy with a beer belly walks in and says “I want to lose this gut in 90 days. Just give me exercises to lose it, I don’t care about my cardiovascular system or strengthening my spinal muscles or anything else. I just want to lose this gut.” What do you say? If you are truly straight you say “well, that’s not how our program works. We are going to set you up on a regular program of exercise, which, in fact, will not even concentrate on your waistline for the first ninety days. But here’s what this program will do for you!” Do you lose him? Maybe you do, maybe you do not. But if you believe in the principle of your exercise program you stick to it. If you don’t you put him on a waist reduction program and ignore what might be more important aspects of his health care relative to exercise.
Practicing straight chiropractic is easy. It’s being faithful to and living by the principles that cause you to practice straight that is hard. It’s just a matter of deciding whether you want a “crash program” type of practice or a straight one. I believe there is a place for both types of chiropractic practices and some chiropractors may derive a certain degree of satisfaction and enjoyment out of practicing the former. But they are the ones who have never tried the latter. Once you try a straight lifetime patient practice you will not want to go back and you definitely will not want to mix the two!
Now for the practical application. If we are checking and adjusting people for vertebral subluxations for lifetime regular care, perhaps we need to worry less about adjusting vertebral subluxations in areas of the spine where there is the slightest contraindication to introducing a force into the area. It’s funny how history goes in cycles. B.J. began the HIO technique because he did not want chiropractors promiscuously thrusting into “dangerous areas.” He wanted to minimize the number of forces introduced. Perhaps we need to move back in that direction. I’m not saying we should all practice HIO. But isn’t it interesting that the Specific Upper Cervical practitioner who accepts a patient with extreme low back pain never has to worry about doing neurological orthopedic tests, or an x-ray or an MRI to see whether it is safe to thrust into the lumbar region. He just analyzes the area of the spine he is going to adjust, explains to the patient what he is doing and why he is doing it. He goes ahead, does his job and it works. Perhaps if we full spine practitioners had more of that mindset, we would be less worried about doing injury to areas of the spine with the symptoms of medical problems because we would avoid those areas. We would not feel the need to resort to medical procedures to see if it is safe to adjust there. We just would not adjust there. Perhaps we should have this rule: If you feel you need to do an neurological orthopedic tests or other medical procedure to determine whether it is safe to adjust in an area then it’s not.

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