What makes your body heal itself?

 

Why will a cut on your finger heal in time but a cut to a really good steak will not heal even if it is free of pathogens, stitched up perfectly, and a bandage is applied correctly?

FingerCut VersusSteak

It is this type of question that inspired the first chiropractors to search for the cause of one person in a family, living in the same conditions as the rest, to become ill or die while everyone else remained healthy. This is the crux of the difference between disease care and health care. This is the crux of the difference between medicine and chiropractic. The first focuses on the study of disease and what causes death while the second studies health and what facilitates life.health_continuum2.5

Looking only at science has, unfortunately, left this question unanswered and has actually revealed more questions that need to be answered rather than reducing them. To fully wrap our minds around this question we have to look at more than just science. This is why chiropractic was developed as a science AND a philosophy AND an art of things natural. Now many people who ascribe to science as an exclusive belief system mistake philosophy as being opposed to science. However, they are intimately related to each other. To simplify this relationship we can say that philosophy thinks up the questions that the scientific method attempts to answer through repeatable observation and hypothesis.

SherlockHolmsChiropractic philosophy looks at nature through deductive reasoning, much like the fictional character Sherlock Holmes.

“In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backwards. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much. In the every-day affairs of life it is more useful to reason forwards, and so the other comes to be neglected. There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically…Let me see if I can make it clearer. Most people, if you describe a train of events to them, will tell you what the result would be. They can put those events together in their minds, and argue from them that something will come to pass. There are few people, however, who, if you told them a result, would be able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backwards, or analytically.”  -A Study in Scarlet – Chapter 7 – Conclusion

“Let me run over the principal steps. We approached the case, you remember, with an absolutely blank mind, which is always an advantage. We had formed no theories. We were simply there to observe and to draw inferences from our observations.” – The Adventure of the Cardboard Box

SherlockHolmsWhy do we need to reason backwards from simply observing? Good old Sherlock has the answer to this as well…

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.”-A Study in Scarlet
AND
“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” -A Scandal in Bohemia

So, before we come up with theories, we need to observe the facts.

  • Fact #1) Living things are organized systems that come from other living things and have distinct characteristics that nonliving things don’t have like;
    A) Organized
    B) Grows and Develops AKA Self-organizing
    C) Seeks Homeostasis AKA Self-regulating
    D) Metabolism AKA Uses Energy
    E) Response to environmental changes or stimuli AKA Interactive
    F) Reproduces AKA Self-replicating
    G) Biological evolution AKA Adaptive
  • Fact#2) Dead bodies never heal, EVER!
  • Fact#3) Law of Cause and Effect (in other words if there is an effect then there must be a cause. So if something is organized then something else had to organize it and transfer the energy to set it in motion)
  • Fact #4) Nonliving mater does not spontaneously self organize into living mater without ‘that something’ that gives living things the characteristics of A-G
  • Fact #5) If you are reading this then you started out life as a unique single celled organism made from the combination of two single cells from your father and mother.EggCellDevision
  • Fact #6) You then proceeded to build an incredibly complex community, of BILLIONS of individual cells, working together to experience a living existence.
  • Fact #7) Most of the communication and functions necessary to sustain this organized, multicellular community is done without our conscious control or awareness. (in other words the cut on your finger will heal regardless of you thinking about it.)
  • Fact #8) No living thing has ever been synthetically produced in a lab from scratch (yes, scientists have reprogrammed already living cells with synthetic DNA but have not built them from scratch regardless of what the media headlines say)
  • Fact #9) No direct measure of Life, Life Force, Life Energy, or Vital Spark has ever been attained in a laboratory setting. Effects of this entity or substance have been measured but not the entity or substance itself.
  • Fact #10) Artificial intelligence and man made machines are blurring the lines between living and nonliving but none have acquired the full list of characteristics.

Now on to the theories; Looking at the facts two theories have historically emerged, Mechanism and Vitalism. Mechanism is what reductionist reasoning brings the thought process to, where everything is made of the sum of the parts and it all works like a machine. Vitalism is where deductive reasoning brings the thought process to, where the mechanics of life and existence are evidence of an organizing Intelligence and the whole is greater than simply the sum of the parts. Vitalism does not deny mechanistic principles at work in nature but Mechanism denies vitalistic principles at work concluding that the parts are enough to describe all of the processes of Life and Nature. These two theories have been debated since the time of Plato and Aristotle. We are not going to go into too much depth about these two philosophies mainly because, after hundreds of years, neither can be proven nor disproven. For Vitalism to be proven some Life Force AKA Vital Spark must be directly measured and for Mechanism to be proven a living organism needs to be synthetically built from scratch with all of the characteristics of Life present and functional.  Until either of these happen, although it is a fascinating debate, it is functionally useless for most people to choose sides.AlexGrayEnergyBody

If you have been reading other blog posts written by myself then by now you might have realized that I am convinced (AKA biased) about which one of these two philosophies is more correct. However, do you care what I think? Just because I see evidence day in and day out inside my chiropractic practice, it really does not help you much unless you are one of my patients. So lets get right down to it. What serves you best?

The short answer to the question of what heals the body is the living YOU! No amount of drugs, surgery, nutrition, positive thinking, chiropractic, acupuncture, or electrical charge will cause a dead body to heal. Healing is a function of life regardless of if you think life is simply a chemical reaction or if you believe in the existence of Life as an entity. Atheist heal just like saints.  Mechanists heal just like Vitalists.

So what serves you best? To recognize that YOU are the healer. You can do lots of things to enhance your healing ability and support your body’s functions but as long as you are alive you have the potential to heal. If you want to really explore the potential that the human bodyDrSyringe has to heal itself then you need to look no further than what is called “The Placebo Effect.”  This is one of the biggest thorns in the side of our current, science based medical care system in America.  Most scientific approaches do not recognize any treatment in which the mechanism of action is not known, except the placebo. It is incorporated into the vast majority of scientific research on treatments for symptoms and diseases however how it works is a current mystery. What is even more mysterious is the fact that the placebo effect is increasing making it harder and harder for drug companies to show their products are of medical value.

The second disturbing fact about how we use placebos in science is when the effect is eliminated from the research because it is an outlier in the data and is not reproducible person to person. In reality there is no such thing as an “incurable disease” however since these spontaneous remissions are not common and they cannot be patented or profited from they do not get studied by mainstream science. Scientific research is expensive and unless there is the possibility of a big payoff from selling a product to sick people, drug companies will turn away from anything that places the power of healing inside the body of the sick person.

So what can you do to maximize your healing ability?

  1. NEVER EVER EVER GIVE UP!
    When we lose hope and stop trying the possibility of ANY treatment working decreases significantly.
  2. HealthFoodsEat real food.
    Without the correct fuel and building blocks a body cannot function much less heal. Herbs are one of the first forms of medicine ever used and because they are food they help the sick as much as they help the healthy.
  3. Drink pure water regularly.
    It is one of the most abundant molecules in our bodies and is involved in most functions.
  4. Move your body regularly and correctly.
    Without correct movement of the musculoskeletal system most other systems are slowed down in function.
  5. Exercise and learn to increase control of your mind not just your body.Anatomy
    Stress related diseases and conditions are one of the most common reasons people seek medical help. If you don’t learn to control your mind then someone else will and they will not be interested in what is truly best for you. Meditation and lifelong learning are two of the best tools we have!
  6. Seek the advice, council, and help from many different healthcare providers so you have the best information to make decisions.
    Everyone has a bias and that includes doctors of all kinds. Don’t simply get one person’s opinion.
  7. SLEEP and relaxation are just as important to health and function as anything else.
    What most people don’t realize is that we must practice them. Just because it was or is easy to sleep does not mean it will always be easy. Practice and set up good routines now before a problem sets in.
  8. Stay social.
    Not only is our body a community of cells but we, as whole and complete beings, are set up to be social creatures. It is good to have alone time but it is also good to have social time. Love is a powerful drug.
  9. Decrease the toxins inside and outside of your body.
    This includes chemicals as well as emotions, relationships, addictions, and habits. What is toxic to one person is not to another so don’t get caught up in the hype and marketing but rather spend lots of quality time listening and being aware of how your body responds. You are not a victim.AutonomicNerveChart

Finally always remember that you are the healer. No one on the outside of your body can repair or replace damaged cells and this is the only way healing happens. Embrace the responsibility you have to the cells of your body because that is where your power resides. The placebo and the nocebo effect are proof that healing and function are an integrated relationship between our mind and our body. We can use this knowledge to effectively enhance our lives so that we have no need to rely on the disease and sick care system that we have today. YOU are the healthcare system!

 

Feel free to leave questions and comments below.
As always, stay adjusted!

Dr. Tad

Is Chiropractic really an Alternative Medicine? Really?

 

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debunked

 

For the past few posts we have covered some popular myths about chiropractic. Some myths are spread by others and some are spread by many chiropractors themselves.  This post is likely the last on in this series and is dedicated to a myth that our whole culture promotes. The myth that Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine. There are two versions of this article, the short one first for those of you who don’t like to read and the long one that follows for those who want to know the reasons why this common perception about chiropractic is a myth AND why it is important to debunk it.

Short Version 

CadusisDoesNotEqualchiropractic_symbol_fw

This myth is false!
Why?

1) Medicine is focused on controlling diseases and symptoms.

2) Chiropractic is true health care because it does not treat diseases or symptoms (no, not even back pain!) rather is only focused on increasing a person’s ability to function and adapt.

3) The definition of “alternative medicine” does not include chiropractic because chiropractic is actually part of this country’s tradition AND it is integrated into the current dominant health care system.

Don’t get it? (My wife doesn’t either.) That’s why having a short version is dumb. Now, on to the…

Long Version

This is the long version so strap yourself in and don’t get surprised if we get into some semantics with this one. Words are powerful in their ability to deliver a message.  We must get specific with them to deliver a message clearly. The message that chiropractic fits under the umbrella of ‘alternative medicine’ is totally false.  Too many are under the impression that anything outside of the American Medical Association’s promoted list of services and products that an MD offers is ‘alternative medicine.’  One false impression leads to another.

Unfortunately the history of chiropractic is rife with turmoil as well as those who think chiropractic makes an excellent alternative medicine, much to the founders dismay.  This is why, today, about half of the chiropractic schools do not teach much about real chiropractic.  So it is only natural that this myth is so widely promoted and marketed by both the Chiropractic profession and the Medical profession inside our country’s healthcare system today. It really does not help in the debunking of this myth that the founder of chiropractic and his son were both very outspoken in their distain with the medical profession and its practices of their day. Many seemingly anti-medicine quotes are spouted by people that are authored by these two men. However when we look at their writings in context we find a different message. A pro-Chiropractic message is different from an alternative or anti-medicine message.

Here come the semantics! First we are going to start off with some working definitions so we can all be clear about what the message behind the words actually is, versus how some people choose to interpret it. Actual definitions can be very broad, words can have multiple meanings and meanings can be described with multiple words. This is where working definitions come in handy. A working definition is a refined definition chosen for a particular occasion or circumstance because the full definition is not practical in its ability to correctly differentiate between thoughts or ideas described by the words used. In this particular case, the definition of medicine is a perfect example. According to the MedlinePlus branch of the Marriam-Webster dictionary, one of the definitions of medicine is; 2 a: the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease.  However, if we actually apply this definition then technically every farmer on the planet is practicing medicine without a license because food is important to maintain health and prevent diseases such as scurvy. Since the prevention of some diseases like obesity or degenerative disc and joint disease requires correct movement of the body, all personal trainers are also practicing medicine without a license. This broad definition does not work in the real world even if the American Medical Association (AMA)  really really really wants to have a monopoly on health care. So taking into consideration what the AMA actually promotes in this country and filtering out those who do not fit into that box, we finally come up with a working definition of medicine.

Medicine: The treatment of diseases and symptoms by any means necessary including but not limited to drugs and surgery and whose practitioners (in the USA) require a license from a Board of Medical Examiners.

The reason we must exclude the term ‘health’ from the working definition of medicine is because the definition of health itself renders it outside the practice of medicine.  HealthFoodsHealth: The condition of an organism or one of its parts in which it performs its vital functions normally or properly. Although some medical treatments do result in the restoration of health this is not the goal or common practice. For example, if we have a disease or symptom and we go to a medical doctor the doctor will attempt to control that disease or symptom usually by chemically stimulating or inhibiting another function of the body to compensate for the symptom. Most MD’s, except an extreme minority who are practicing on the fringe of medicine, will not attempt to help the body restore normal function on its own. Even when we go for a physical or routine check up, an average MD is not looking for normal function or to enhance it. They are trained to look for abnormal function, and they are very good at finding it with the amazing technology we have today. Thus the AMA has set out to describe “normal” function as a means of ruling in/out abnormal function. Unfortunately this effort has resulted in the misconception that the average function in a population equates to normal function in any one individual. Most people do not spend enough time with their MD to be able to identify their unique normal function.  If there was a medical art that attempted to restore normal function, (not metrics or “levels”,) then this art has been lost by today’s dominant medical practice in America.

This brings us to the next working definition we need to address before debunking this myth. We need a working definition of the medical system we have in the United States of America today to see what the alternative forms of this system might be. Now, the more we hesitate to define something in a clear way the less we can rely on the scientific method. Science revolves around observation and we must clearly define what we are observing to collect accurate data and make hypotheses.  Dr. James F. Winterstein, DC,  president of National University of Health Sciences, once said in an interview; “Chiropractic is what chiropractors do.” This is a terrible attitude to take toward studying something, especially the effect of medical or health based practice. What is the purpose of a license to participate in a particular profession if the practitioner can simply do what they want and say their license covers it? Should your Electrician fix your plumbing? Should your Veterinarian charge you for approving the foundation on your office building?

With this in mind let us look at what our current medical system is and does to clearly define it. I don’t think that most people reading this will argue with the fact that the United States has the worlds best medical technology and emergency rooms. The treatment of communicable diseases and emergencies in this country is rivaled by very few. People travel from all over the world to receive treatment from American medical specialists. However when you look at the health of the American population it is ranked far below other industrialized nations. In the United States today, we have one of the world’s best disease and crisis care systems but we have a pitiful health care system. It is important to make this distinction because disease care does not equal health care. Both are important but different. The working definition of today’s medical system revolves around the treatment of diseases and symptoms.  Both symptoms and diseases are caused by abnormal function. But does today’s dominant medical system really seek to normalize those functions or just to normalize the results of the body’s inability to regulate the functioning parts?

If you go to an MD and they find your cholesterol levels are higher than average you will likely be prescribed a statin drug. A statin drug does not restore theDrSyringe body’s ability to “normalize” the production or use of cholesterol, but rather it chemically alters the body’s ability to make cholesterol. This renders one of the the vital functions dependent on the drug. Or you might go in for a check up and report that you have been feeling depressed. The MD might give you an SSRI drug. An SSRI anti-depresant does not address the body’s ability to regulate the neurotransmitters involved in positive emotions but rather it chemically alters the body’s ability to reabsorb serotonin. If a drug was to actually restore health then it would only be taken for a short amount of time until the body would be able to function better, or at least the same as it did before the disease or symptom began. Same is true of most surgeries. Does the removal of a tumor do anything to address the body’s malfunctioning immune system that allowed to over growth of cells to begin with?  When the most common approach utilized to treat a person are drugs and surgery then our current medical system is disease care by working definition.

Now there are many different types of medical professionals who practice the art of disease and symptom care; MD’s, DO’s, DPT’s, ND’s, Dietitians, Dentists, and technically even witchdoctors.  So it is easy to get convoluted in our definition and interpretation of medicine. We bring in additions to the word medicine like; traditional, alternative, modern, mind-body, evidence-based, integrative, sports, or natural. I find it funny that most people in this country call natural treatments, herbs, and life style changes “alternative medicine” while the most recently developed drugs and surgery they call just ‘medicine’. The natural treatments are the original and drugs/surgery should be the alternative. But I digress… Anyway, most of us can agree that although there are different types of medicine they all have the common focus and goal of treating diseases (illness) and/or symptoms.

WHOThis brings us to the place where we need a good differentiation of modern (American) verses traditional verses alternative medicine, if that is even possible. According to the World Health Organization:

Traditional Medicine: the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness.

Alternative Medicine/Complementary Medicine (CAM): The terms “complementary medicine” or “alternative medicine” are used inter-changeably with traditional medicine in some countries. They refer to a broad set of health care practices that are not part of that country’s own tradition and are not integrated into the dominant health care system.

So we can eliminate our current medical system (in the U.S.A.) from being under the term ‘Traditional Medicine’ because it is not the sum total of indigenous knowledge, skill, or practices and it does not concern itself with the maintenance of health. How much does your health insurance pay for preventative maintenance or treatments that actually increase your body’s ability to self regulate? No, our current “health care” system is a disease and symptom based system that is not interested in health or keeping people from developing diseases. This is simply because the practice of medicine, by working definition, is wholly focused on the results/symptoms of dysfunctions and the practitioners of medicine would be out of a job if diseases were prevented.

Now, we might be able to argue that our current medical system is actually CAM because it is not part of our country’s tradition except for the past 50 years. But on the other hand, we can also eliminate our current medical system from being under the term CAM because it is the dominant “health” care system but does not include practices that are not integrated into the AMA guide lines.  Many will believe that the AMA guidelines and common practices are the hight of scientific knowledge, this is unfortunately false.

Phew! After all of that, we have a working definition of Medicine: The treatment of diseases and symptoms by any means necessary. And we also have a working definition of Alternative Medicine (look up two paragraphs above this.)  So now we can move on to finding out why Chiropractic cannot and does not fit into the definition of medicine, alternative or otherwise.

Chiropractic and the chiropractic art:

Since the beginning of the profession and art, chiropractic has been very narrow and exclusive about what it is and what it does. Although the scope of legalD.D.Palmer practice has been expanded to incorporate some medical philosophies and practices, this was not the original intent of chiropractic directed by the founder (Dr. D.D. Palmer) or his son, the developer (Dr. B.J. Palmer). Hundreds of early chiropractors went to jail to set the legal president that Chiropractic was a separate and distinct profession with a distinct focus and practice.

bjpalmerstampThe mixing of chiropractic and medical practice and/or philosophy was intensely demonized by both D.D. and B.J.  They used terms like “Mixer or Medi-practor” to distinguish between those that practiced real chiropractic and those who practiced medicine with a Chiropractic degree.

“MEDI-practic or MEDI-practor. MEDI, first two syllables of MEDI-cine and, A MEDI-practor, falsely represents MEDI-cine AND chiropractic, is an impostor to both, using subterfuging deceptions to both professions. A MEDI-practor is a mongrel, belonging to neither species or professions.” — B.J. Palmer D.C.

 “Chiropractic is founded upon different principles than those of medicine.” — D.D. Palmer D.C.

Although the practice that most states define as chiropractic is technically mixed with medicine, thus allowing the medical system to incorporate it, this is a compromise of the truth. To tease apart this compromise we need to have a working definition of real chiropractic that transcends the circular logic fallacy that “chiropractic is what chiropractors do.” Let us look at the original definition and remove what does not apply to the terms of a working definition. One of the first and best textbooks on chiropractic written by Dr. R. W. Stephenson D.C., Ph.C. states:Subluxation3

“Chiropractic is a philosophy, science and art of things natural; a system of adjusting the segments of the spinal column by hand only, for the correction of the cause of dis-ease.”

The term ‘dis-ease’ is used to refer to a state in which it is not easy to function. And by ‘hand only’ refers to the choice to only use the application of specific force to give the tissues of the body a chance to restore ease of function. Since the spine is literally the core of who we are, the most effective place to add that force is there. Not only does it have an intimate relationship with the governing system (brain and nerves) but it also has an intimate relationship with the muscles and connective tissue that allows us to move through life. Those two systems, musculoskeletal and nervous systems, control and mechanically effect every other system of our bodies. Small dysfunctions can have systemic effects because our body works as a whole unit. The less ease of function we have the more susceptible we are to outside forces like microorganisms, poisons, pollution, stress, and negative autosuggestions.

AutonomicNerveChartThe crux of chiropractic is the natural functions of a living body. This is where chiropractic places all of its energy and focus for the purpose of not only learning how these natural processes work but also learning how to work with them to maximize our efficient function in nature. This is why we can conclude that the working definition of chiropractic is: A system of adjusting the segments of the spinal column to support natural function through applying philosophy, science, and art. 

The goal of chiropractic has more to do with increasing the function of adaptability in people and less to do with fixing a symptom or disease. By the time symptoms and diseases set in, the body has been in a state of adaptive dysfunction for so long it begins to break down.  Now helping the body restore ease of function is as good to a sick person as it is a healthy person. If a sick person can adapt better to the situation they have the best chance to get well. If a healthy person can adapt better to the situation then they have the best chance at staying well.  In no way shape or form does a chiropractic adjustment directly fight disease, injury or symptom. This is the difference between medicine and chiropractic. It may be argued that chiropractic is AN alternative TO medicine because a person that stays well does not need medicine. However, since medicine treats the body from the outside to alter function while chiropractic helps the body remove the blockage in function from the inside, then chiropractic cannot be considered a type of alternative medicine.

Another, and less important fact that makes the classification of chiropractic as alternative medicine incorrect, is that chiropractic is technically incorporated into the dominant health care system of this country. Most insurance companies cover some chiropractic services and even the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) states that chiropractic can be a useful treatment for certain symptoms. Also, it is part of this country’s tradition because it was founded and developed in Davenport Iowa around 1895.

health_continuum2.5

Here is the bottom line: the goals, outcomes, practices and sciences are too different between medicine (alternative or otherwise) and chiropractic to label them in the same category. But in practical reality, why should we care how about the label of things? Labeling things and classifying them is how the language dominant hemisphere of our brain processes information. What to do with those things and their meaning is how the language non-dominant hemisphere processes information. We need both ways of processing information to be able to arrive at the best solution to life’s problems.  Medicine has its place and chiropractic has its place in the complete care of an individual living human system. One to address saving life and one to address supporting life. However, we have to properly label them to be able to correctly understand what they do and how we can use them.

False labeling chiropractic can negatively affect our decision making when we start expecting chiropractic to provide medical results in scientific studies. Most scientific investigations published about chiropractic look at a medically modeled system with the measure of symptoms as the metric of success or failure. Any study, done by chiropractors or other doctors, that claims to show changes in symptoms after a chiropractic adjustment is measuring the results of chiropractic incorrectly. There are tons of studies that show chiropractic is a good treatment for some types of pain, and many others studies that indicate chiropractic can be an effective treatment for everything from scoliosis to childhood asthma.  AlexGrayEnergyBodyBut all of these symptoms were actually changed by the people being studied not by the chiropractor. So when studies get published saying there is no evidence for “causation,” they are right. The cause and the cure, according to the Chiropractic principles, are in the patient.  The best way to research the effects of the Chiropractic art is in measuring the changes in the nervous system in terms of function not symptoms. The real goal of the Chiropractic adjustment is to help remove the resistance from the flow of self organizing information in the patient’s body so that the patient’s body can function better and do more. If the flow of information has improved then there should be better information integration functions in the cells of the body. The brain and spinal cord are the first places to find evidence of a change in information integration because they are made of the most sensitive cell of the body.  They are literally the cells whose main job is to inform about changes in and around every cell of the body, or sense change and respond.

Spine1More research needs to be done in this field and that responsibility rests on the chiropractic profession.  I for one don’t want to do this research because I enjoy practicing Chiropractic so much. But this is a poor excuse and I hope one day to be able to give a contribution to more appropriate research on Chiropractic. Writing this blog has given me lots of time exploring the current research and it has been as challenging as it is rewarding.  It has given me an appreciation of words and the writing process that I did not know existed, especially inside of me. It is because of this great respect that I must adamantly oppose the term alternative medicine in relation to chiropractic. There is medicine, there is the type of medicine that exists outside of the United States of America’s common practice and then there is health care. Chiropractic has about as much to do with medicine as eating, sleeping, and exercise.  If you consider farmers medical practitioners then you will disagree with me and in that case you are free to call chiropractic an alternative medicine.

Stay adjusted and stay healthy, my friends.

Much Love,
Dr. Tad

Debunking The Popular Myths About Chiropractic Part 4

debunked


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#7) Once you start seeing a chiropractor you have to continue for the rest of your life

This is one myth that I bought into before going into chiropractic school. Most of the chiropractors I knew at the timechiropractic_symbol_fw sold care packages and the insurance companies paid for X number of adjustments per year so of course they wanted you to come in at least that many times. Since I did not really know what a chiropractor truly did, I had trouble letting go of the fallacy that when a doctor “fixes” something then it should stay fixed. In my ignorance I thought that one adjustment should be enough to get a bone back into place and if it was not then that means the chiropractor was not doing something correctly. I understand now that I was setting chiropractors up for failure because my belief system was based on expecting the impossible. No doctor can “fix” anything in your body. Your body has to do the fixing and that includes alignment.

I once heard of a dentist joke saying something that is relevant to this topic. A dentist said; “You know that you don’t have to brush your teeth every day, right? You only need to brush the teeth you want to keep.”  This is the exact same concept with chiropractic, AutonomicNerveChartyou only need to maintain the parts of your spine and nervous system you want to keep functional. You don’t need to come, get checked and adjusted when necessary for the rest of your life but it would be healthier if you made that choice. There is a difference between a need and a desire. I need water to survive. I desire to maintain my function so that I don’t lose it and need emergency intervention in the long run. Most people that seek my help start off needing chiropractic care. They come in limping, on crutches, being carried, or on medication because they cannot function normally. This time of need for most people is relatively short and before long they no longer need chiropractic. The smart ones will, however, make a choice to utilize chiropractic for what it is best at which is preventative maintenance.

HighMaintenanceLifeSo really it comes down to this: You have very few basic needs and chiropractic is most likely not one of them. But, do you really want to go through life only covering your needs? How many things in life, that you work for, are actually desires above your needs? This is the difference between surviving and thriving. Both are important but one takes more conscious effort and action.

 

#5) Chiropractic is not safe for SurprisedCatchildren

This myth comes mostly from people who either are not aware of how children are adjusted or confuse chiropractic with medicine. Some people imagine that kids with tiny spines are going to have their neck cranked all the way around and the chiropractor is going to jump up and down on their backs as if they’re a full grown adult.  My daughter was adjusted when she was just two minutes old, so I can assure you that it is very different.IMG_3479 Life is rough on a growing and developing body. As if squeezing through a birth canal is not enough, lots of bonks and falls await them as they grow. Children, too, have a spine with a nervous system and so it only makes sense that if their spine is torqued, twisted, or just slightly causing stress on their nervous system then this will have negative effects on their growing and developing bodies. The truth is, anyone and anything with a spine and nervous system will benefit from a good chiropractic adjustment, if they need it. But this post is not about the benefits to kids, it is about the evidence or lack thereof for chiropractic to be dangerous.

If anyone wants to do a search in the largest database of published peer reviewed scientific articles, PubMed, for chiropractic pediatrics adverse events only 4 articles will show up. One of these articles has nothing to do with chiropractic, one is on a specific condition (otitis media with zero averse events). The other two are of interest to this topic.

The first is from the University of Alberta and was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The study reviewed 13 published papers about spinal manipulation in general but not specifically chiropractic. In the conclusion the author writes; “neither causation nor incidence rates can be inferred from observational data. Conduct of a prospective population-based active surveillance study is required to properly assess the possibility of rare, yet serious, adverse events as a result of spinal manipulation on pediatric patients.” SO basically we are back to square one with no direct evidence linking chiropractic adjustments to injuries in children receiving chiropractic care. If you have not noticed so far from my blog posts, when you start reading the scientific literature for yourself it becomes obvious that scientific studies are not as “black and white” in their findings as the media makes them out to be.

The second is a similar style of study that the first recommended at a single clinic. Both parents and doctors participated in monitoring the children and documenting adverse events. The adverse events that occurred were relatively mild and similar to what some adults experience. The parents reported that 1 in 867 adjustments led to adverse events and the doctors reported that 1 in 1813 adjustments led to adverse events.  To place this in perspective, take a look at this study that looks at how hospitals can decrease preventable adverse events caused by medical errors. After implementing the better system these events still occurred at a rate of 1 in 5. Which means that, at best, one out of five medical interventions lead to error or injury.health_continuum2.5

Now, I am not a fan of comparing medicine to chiropractic or vise versa. That is comparing apples to oranges. They each have their different benefits and limitations. However, historically the medical profession has lead the charge in spreading the myth that chiropractic is an undue risk to children but when we look directly at the evidence itself, medicine is far more dangerous. There is a reason for this, though. In emergency situations, tough calls must be made in order to save the child’s life that may involve some element of harm to that child’s body. Everyone agrees that this is an acceptable risk even though it is heart breaking. Very few would come away with the idea that children should never go to a hospital when they need it if they have a 1 in 5 chance of being injured. The same is true for chiropractic except, because of the different nature of chiropractic, the risk is hundreds of times less.

Everything comes with an inherent risk, though. This risk is increased by the fact that not every doctor acts in a professional or ethical way. There is also the fact that everyone makes mistakes. I have said this in a previous post and I will say it again. If you really want to see the risk associated with a profession, look at how much malpractice insurance costs. The insurance companies have a great financial incentive to charge riskier practices more money since they will be spending more money paying out to plaintiffs. This is how insurance companies stay in business, by being very good at risk analysis.  In the end there is no scientific evidence that shows a good chiropractic adjustment from a competent chiropractor is an unnecessary risk to a child’s body.

For those of you out there who are still afraid of a chiropractor jerking your kid’s spine around, keep this in mind. A child’s adjustment is far softer than an adult’s adjustment. The force required to adjust a child is FAR LESS than what is required for an adult for two reasons;

PerfectSquat#1) Children do not have as much muscular strength to resist the adjustment like most adults do.

#2) Children, in general, have not had the time that adults have had to develop the bad habits that lead to really bad subluxations.

Children are much easier to adjust and need fewer adjustments than adults because they are still in a state of ease with their body and do not over analyze or over compensate the way adults do. The bones of a baby’s spine are in multiple pieces before they fuse together to form a vertebra. This makes a baby’s spine much more able to create abnormal pressure on the nervous system with these extra pieces but this also means that an adjustment can be done simply by slightly pushing those pieces in the right direction with the very tip of a chiropractor’s pinky finger.

It seems that ignorance and fear are the basis of this myth and unfortunately the consequences of children not being adjusted when they need to can be far more severe than in adults. Any delay or decrease in development can affect someone for the rest of their life. This means that the same children, that those who buy into this myth are trying to protect, are the ones that will suffer the most. Children deserve to have Subluxation3the best start in life possible and chiropractic is one of the simplest and gentlest ways to help them. Every child should be checked by a chiropractor at least a few times during their formative years just to make sure there is nothing biomechanically interfering with their growth and development. It is just too simple to not give kids a chance to develop to their highest potential. Hopefully soon I will write a post about the benefits of chiropractic for kids and what to look for in a good pediatric chiropractor.
Stay tuned and adjusted.

 

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.
– Dr. Tad