What IS the Truth About Chiropractic?

There has been a lot of debate and speculation over the years as to the legitimacy and validity of chiropractic care. The medical community has literally fought against chiropractic and the right of chiropractors to practice. For a time, most MDs were convinced that chiropractic was a sham and that all chiropractors were quacks. However, over the years, chiropractors have worked hard to educate the medical community and the public about what we do and the health benefits of chiropractic care. Recently, there have been research findings to backup the anecdotal evidence, including  quite a few studies showing the efficacy of chiropractic care for treating low back pain specifically.

Today, many health care practitioners (including MDs) recognize chiropractic care as doing something beneficial, at least when it come to musculoskeletal pain (low back pain in particular). If you are still on the fence (or perhaps way out in the woods) about chiropractic, an article published in Medical News Today earlier this month might be able to sway you.

This article, entitled What’s the truth about chiropractors?, was written by Rachel Nall, RN, BSN, CCRN and reviewed by Judith Marcin, MD. Thus it comes from an allopathic medicine perspective, yet it is supportive of chiropractic care. The author has undoubtedly worked with chiropractors and likely has been a chiropractic patient herself. The author focuses on the facts and is quick to point out what chiropractic can’t do (at least as far as we’ve been able to prove through research).

Chiropractic_Adjustment

Here are some of the key points that I appreciated as a Doctor of Chiropractic:

  • Myth: chiropractors do not undergo a significant amount of training. Truth: they typically complete about 8 years of higher education before they are licensed, including 3-4 years of undergraduate education and 4 years of a chiropractic graduate program.
  • Chiropractors attend graduate-level health colleges and graduate as doctors of chiropractic, but they are not medical doctors.
  • According to the American Chiropractic Association, most chiropractic programs include as many classroom hours as a typical medical doctor program.
  • Chiropractors often receive additional training and certification in a wide variety of specialties, including nutrition, sports medicine, acupuncture, and rehabilitation.
  • Myth: chiropractors merely cracks a person’s back or bones. Truth: chiropractic care is centered around spinal manipulation; however, practitioners also study how the spine and its structures are related to the body’s function. They may also provide services such as postural analysis, nutrition counseling, and healthful exercise.
  • A 2018 review included 17 years of studies involving spinal manipulation and mobilization, which is a more passive form of manipulation. The studies investigated the effects of these treatments on chronic lower back pain, and the authors concluded that the chiropractic methods were “viable” options for pain management.
  • Myth: chiropractors only treat back pain. Truth: chiropractic care can also help to heal pain in the foot, elbow, shoulder, and neck.
  • While chiropractors are known for treating back and neck pain, they also treat bone and soft tissue conditions.
  • Myth: chiropractic treatment is unsafe. Truth: A person may experience mild side effects from spinal manipulation, including: discomfort in areas treated, fatigue, and headaches. According to the American Chiropractic Association, most discomfort and soreness subsides within 24 hours of spinal manipulation. There have only been occasional reports of long-term effects related to chiropractic care.
  • According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, chiropractic is the most commonly used treatment for back pain. An estimated 74 percent of Americans with back pain have used chiropractic care at some point in their treatment.

The author conclude with the following summary, which is a great takeaway message:

“An aspiring chiropractor must spend thousands of hours studying before obtaining a license. In 2016, an estimated 47,400 chiropractors were practicing in the U.S., according to the country’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Chiropractic care is drug-free and non-invasive, and it may treat some musculoskeletal problems. While this form of alternative medicine may not benefit everyone, it is generally considered safe for most people.”


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