So I had a virtual conversation with someone online this past week. More accurately, it was an online disagreement. I was reading a story about a chiropractor who broke the law and was punished with jail time, when in the comments section, someone went off about the "pseudo-science" (his/her words) chiropractic. I had to laugh as I read their take. It was sadly amusing to read their often repeated mantra of unsubstantiated rumor and how they don't "believe" in it. Of course, when someone tells me they don't "believe" in it, I have two thoughts: 1. It's not a religion, and 2. I am so glad it doesn't take their belief for it to help the millions of people that benefit from it. I mean, saying "I don't believe in it" would be the same as me saying, I don't believe in engineering, or the real estate business, or whatever. It's not a matter of belief, it's a matter of fact, it's a matter of a science that has been wrongfully vilified, yet still survives. It's about a form of health care that the AMA was found guilty of trying to "contain and eliminate" (their own words.... see Wilk Vs. AMA), but still thrives and serves.
It's a little frustrating (I admit it) to have years and years of success in a profession, and years and years of scientific proof, but still have the uneducated, or those people with ulterior motives, continue to spread their lies, half-truths, and rumors. It's even more frustrating to have people, educated or not, buy into them so easily. It will take years to overcome that. I am actually ok with it at this point in my life. I have no issue speaking with those who have an issue with my chosen profession and showing them the light. It is, of course, their choice to truly see the light or ignore it (which some inexplicably do). I've always had a rather pacifist approach to it. Let people say with they may, and keep on doing what I do to the best of my ability. Now my thought processes have changed.
I'm armed and dangerous. Armed with studies. Armed with experience. Armed with a passion. And very tired of hearing our profession besmirched, and the medical model of health care looked at as the gold standard, when in so many ways the opposite should be true. And tired of having patients with back or neck pain so poorly managed, to the detriment of their health. This post will have some serious science backing it, so hold on tight, here comes truth.
Let's start back in the early 90's with the "Manga Report". Pran Manga was commissioned by the Ontario government to evaluate all treatments, mainstream and otherwise, for low back pain. He gathered the information, and I'll share a few snippets of what he found. "On the evidence, particularly the scientifically valid studies, spinal manipulation applied by chiropractors is shown to be more effective than alternative treatments for low back pain. Many medical modalities are of questionable validity, or are clearly inadequate. Chiropractic manipulation is safer than medical management of low back pain". None of the researchers had anything to do with chiropractic, all were non-biased participants, doing a review of literature and treatment modalities. It goes on to state that spinal manipulation performed by non-chiropractors is much less safe. To me, that's enough right there, but for some, that's "only one study". Ok, I get that, let's move on.
How about the 2004 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine? It states "Systematic access to chiropractic care may not only be clinically beneficial, but may also reduce overall health costs". Then there's the 2011 study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that had several interesting quotes such as "cases treated by chiropractors had less surgeries and less use of opiods" and "In addition, people who were mostly treated by chiropractors had, on average, less expensive medical services and shorter initial periods of disability than cases treated by physiotherapists and medical physicians." Is that good or is that great??
Need more? Ok fine, there's plenty more to share, but I'll end with a study published in Spine, the premier medical journal for spinal health. In 2011, there was a study titled "Does Maintained Spinal Manipulation Therapy For Chronic Non-Specific Low Back Pain Result in Better Long Term Outcome?". In other words, does regular spinal adjusting really impact long term results when done on a maintenance or wellness level? The results are impressive. "Only the third group that was given spinal manipulations during the follow up period showed more improvement in pain and disability scores at the 10 month evaluation." In the non-maintenance-treated group, "..pain and disability scores returned back to near their pre-treatment levels". What does that mean? Those with regular wellness or maintenance care continued doing better long term, as compared to those that did not receive maintenance care, and in fact the non-maintained group had pain and disability ratings very close to where they were before treatment. A case for wellness oriented chiropractic adjustments? You bet.
There's so much more out there to support chiropractic, but it seems only the most powerful voices are heard the most. And for so long, we've put those voices on a pedestal, thinking they know all when it comes to health care when it's far from true. The next post will show some of the shortcomings of their approach to health with regards to low back pain in particular. When you're done reading both of these posts, you should have no doubt that chiropractors are the ones who know what's best for your spine!
I'm armed and dangerous, and you are now too.
Until Next Time....Be Well!