For some time now, there has been an unfortunate divide between certain circles of the medical profession and Chiropractors. Today we will be reviewing some of these differences to provide some clarity on the matter. Having said that, our practice and many others are fortunate to have brilliant relationships with general practitioners and other medical doctors in the local communities. Our relationship has been built on trust, clarity, evidence-based practice and patient results.
Firstly, lets explore some of the reasons why there appears to be a divide between medical doctors and Chiropractors.
- During the days of initial Chiropractic practice, many Chiropractors were jailed for practicing. At the time it was noted that Chiropractor’s were highly successful in helping many individuals who were not achieving results via medical treatment. In the book, The medical war against Chiropractors: The untold story from persecution to vindication, it is stated that the American Medical Association (AMA) of the time waged a shameless attack on any competition to their medical profession. This also included natural professions such as Naturopathy and Homeopathy. This resulted in the eventual jailing of many Chiropractors who refused to stop practicing. From this day onwards, a divide was created
- While presenting themselves as a harmless and trustworthy organisation the AMA proceeded to refer to all Chiropractors as ‘dogs’ and ‘killers.’ It was obvious that their intent was to destroy the Chiropractic profession and also prohibited medical doctors from associating with Chiropractors (much like what is happening today with general practitioners in Australia being told to stop referring any patients to Chiropractors)
- In 1976, a lawsuit was filed against Chester A. Wilk (referred to as the Wilk case). Initially the AMA won, however upon appeal it was found that the judge was found to improperly instruct the jury and allowed inaccurate documents into the trial. Following this, a re-trial occured during 1987 which found the Chiropractic profession victorous. The AMA was found to violate Section 1.
- Perhaps the biggest divide between medical doctors and Chiropractors is each professions philosophy or beliefs. Chiropractic is a preventative, natural approach to ensuring the spine remains healthy and mobile. Many musculoskeletal complaints that we see in modern society such as back pain, headaches, poor posture and much more are easily managed via gentle, non-invasive Chiropractic care. Opposed to this is the medical approach, which views an individual as having symptoms and never being able to acheive health & wellbeing. The medical approach sees an individual who is pain free as being healthy. Common sense would tell us that this is not the case. Medical doctors will happily prescribe drugs, medications and surgery without properly understanding alternative approaches that have similar or higher efficacy with less potential risks of adverse effects and subsequent injuries
- Traditionally Chiropractors have referred to spinal alignment as an area of ‘joint subluxation.’ In hindsight, this term is rather confusing as it opposes the medical definition of subluxation. The easiest way to think of what a Chiropractor does is that they allow normal joint movement and nervous system function via spinal manipulation or mobilisation. The medical profession defines subluxation as a joint which is partially dislocated. It is safe to say that Chiropractors do not perform work on joints that are partially dislocated
- Chiropractors and medical doctors have vastly different training. Chiropractors are educated on human anatomy, physiology, radiographic analysis and treatment protocols. Conversely, medical doctors are trained on how drugs may remove symptoms that a particular individual is suffering. Medical doctors have no understanding (or very limited) of anything related to the musculoskeletal system. If you were to visit a medical doctor suffering back pain, strains, sprains and more you will most likely be instructed to take pain killers. Again, common sense would tell you that while these will effectively reduce your pain, do you really think that these would heal your problem?
- Medical doctors like to use the “there’s no evidence that Chiropractic is effective” as well as “Chiropractic causes stroke” card. Let’s for a minute explore this statement and how it is completely inaccurate. The fact is that, despite absurd and unfounded (as well as already disproven) claims that Chiropractic care is not effective certain circles happily still push this view. These doctors readily ignore that fact that there own profession lacks the peer-reviewed studies from randomized clinical trials that they suggest Chiropractic do not have to support their treatment. To date, Chiropractic has been clinically proven, cost-effective as well as having minimal side effects when compared to majority of medical treatments. Let it sink in that recently, it was estimated that only 30% of individuals respond favourably to spinal surgery yet it is still readily suggested as an effective treatment method for spinal complaints.
- Unfortunately, after all of this ongoing debate practitioners from both sides of the divide forget to recognise who is most important – and that is the patient. The patients needs must be placed first and foremost, not a doctors belief! Chiropractors and medical doctors needs to work hand in hand to achieve the best outcome for their patients and view their health holistically. For Chiropractors reading this, keep your patients medical doctors fully informed and report back to them regarding diagnosis, treatment plans and prognosis.