Debunking The Popular Myths About Chiropractic Part 3

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#5) Chiropractic treats conditions like pain, asthma or stomach problems.

It all comes down to this: there is only two ways that healing occurs, either the repair or the replacement of the cells that make up our body. It does not matter if a healthy body does the healing normally from the inside or if we seek the help of doctors to stimulate the body from the outside, the result is the same. It can happen in no other way for the physical body.

CellHowever, please keep this in mind, everyday our bodies lose billions of cells. On average, every seven to ten years our bodies are almost a new collection of organisms with very few cells in place from seven to ten years prior. We are built for and by new life, as our cells are actually living entities in and of themselves. As I said before, every cell needs the communication from the nervous system to be able to work in harmony with all of the other cells of the body.

Most, if not all, diseases and conditions start out as “dis-ease” in a normal function. Once the ease of function is lost cells become worn out and damaged before becoming completely dysfunctional. Since the chiropractic adjustment helps the body restore the ease in communication, normal function then has the possibility of being restored by the natural systems that our cells have. This is why many conditions will appear to be healed as a result of receiving good chiropractic care BUT this DOES NOT mean that the chiropractor cured these conditions. Only your body and the intelligence that organizes it can truly heal or cure your body by repairing or replacing damaged cells. Many health care professionals can support your body in the healing process with nutrition, drugs, exercise, touch, surgery, or counseling but only chiropractors are specifically trained to identify and correct the cause of the loss of ease in communication between the cells of our body and brain. No system of the body can function properly with mechanical interference on the nervous system.

“Maintenance it the mortar of health!”

With this in mind, chiropractic is best utilized as routine maintenance to help our brain correct the “dis-ease” before the “dis”-function sets in which precedes disease. If we wait too long then diseases and symptoms will require more time and effort to correct. Waiting to see our chiropractor until something is painfully wrong is very much like waiting to change the oil in our car until the engine starts to seize up. Once the engine seizes it is too late for preventative maintenance. Then our options become limited until, eventually, we have an emergency and emergencies are the specialty of the medical profession.

So in the end, chiropractic does not treat any disease or condition. Rather it treats “dis-ease” and helps to restore the foundational element in optimal function, which is the normal informational flow between the cells and the intelligence that coordinates their function. My family gets checked by our chiropractor about twice per month because we want to be sure we are maintaining as much function as we can. Some people may require more and some people may require less, everyone is unique.

#6) Chiropractic fixes back and neck pain

Although pain is by far the most common reason to go to a chiropractor, this is another marketing inspired mythShockedSmiley based off the observation that most chiropractors experience in practice, which is; most people with back and neck pain benefit from a chiropractic adjustments.  The pain myth became mainstream when in the 1980’s medical insurance companies started reimbursing chiropractors for their services with the stipulation that improvement could be documented and predicted. It is easy to document improvement in symptoms but to claim that something “fixes” pain is a gross misunderstanding of the nature of pain itself. Pain is a creation of the brain. When someone tells you that it is all in your head, they are right, but that does not mean it is not real or it does not hurt. Pain is a very important signal from the brain that tells our body:

StrokeBrain#1) Something is not functioning correctly

#2) Slow down

#3) Fix the problem

Herbs and medication can alter the chemicals that signal pain but no one can fix pain except the person who is experiencing it. Chiropractic can help the body restore the proper communication between the brain and the body. This can help with the cause of pain in two ways.

#1) If the body is sending information along the nervous system and that signal is distorted on its way to the brain then responding correctly to the stress of life is impossible. Our brains need to receive as much correct information as possible from the body in order to make the correct decision on what to do in response. Eventually this lack of correct response can lead to wasting the time and the fuel that is needed for good function and repair. When certain cells of the body do not have the time and/or fuel for repair or function then we can eventually develop pain symptoms as the surrounding cells signal the brain that there is dysfunction.

#2) If the brain is sending information along the nervous system and it gets distorted on its way to the body then responding correctly to the stress of life is, again, impossible. The trillions of individual cells that make up our bodies need the information from the brain to be able to do their part for the body as a whole. We might know what to do but our cells might not be getting the message and simply do their own thing. When our cells stop functioning in communion with the rest of our bodies then dysfunction begins that will eventually lead to destruction and pain.

According to number 17 of the 33 principles of Chiropractic: every effect has a cause and every cause has an effect. Pain is an effect (symptom) and unless the cause is addressed by the intelligence that runs our body then it will never truly go away. Taking drugs for pain is much like unhooking our check engine indicator in our cars. It does not fix the problem with the engine. Now for some people it is necessary to turn that signal off because it can be so overwhelmingAlexGrayEnergyBody that it inhibits the functions required to live. So medicine definitely has its place in these emergency situations and it is very effective. However, outside the emergency situation, the medical philosophy guides a medical doctor to try and fix the engine. This is where chiropractic philosophy differs from medical philosophy. According to the chiropractic principles, since the person who’s engine needs repair has the same intelligence that built the engine to begin with, it would be best to have the builder oversee the repairs. The doctor is an assistant who helps to remove the obstacles preventing the builder from repairing what was broken and worn out.

“The power that made the body heals the body.”

The spinal column (neck and back) is a vital component in signaling to the brain where the body is in relationship to the environment. Without this information it is impossible to adapt and survive. This is why so much pain can be associated with the spine, the brain is very picky about its function. The smallest dysfunction in a single of the 76 joints can result in the brain sending massive pain signals. At the same time, the smallest restoration of joint function can signal the brain to decrease or stop the pain signal completely.

PainPostureAlthough many chiropractors claim they are improving joint function, that is not credit they should take.  Some evidence does exist that very subtle changes in position happens immediately as a result of a good chiropractic adjustment, the improvement in function of the joints is accomplished by the cells that make up the joint. This is the indirect effect chiropractors have on back and neck pain; they help to restore function by applying a force to remove the mechanical interference from the nervous system. A specific chiropractic adjustment frees our nervous system of mechanical interference allowing our inborn intelligence to do its job, which is to organize the material of the body to adapt to the stress of life. Any abnormal inhibition of this system’s function will eventually lead to destruction and dysfunction which causes the brain to give us pain as a warning. Once the brain no longer needs to warn us then the pain goes away.

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

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Debunking The Popular Myths About Chiropractic Part 2

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#3) Chiropractic neck adjustments cause strokesStrokeBrain

            Yikes! This is a scary one and the people who spread this myth are counting on that. There are only a handful of studies that look at this, few of them by testing the anatomical or physiological aspects of the body necessary to scientifically prove a causative effect. Most of these studies come to varied opinions by simply looking at statistics and applying different forms of analysis. Since the estimated risk range is HUGE (1 in 5000 to 1 in 5 million {[i]} depending on who you read) we must carefully read the body of evidence in its entirety before we jump to conclusions, because a range this big is very suspicious and essentially tells us nothing. The most telling study that I have come across is from a Chiropractic school where the least experienced “doctors-to-be” practice on people. If there is any place that would run a high risk it would be in the schools. However Jaskoviak {[ii]} reported that not a single case of stroke occurred in approximately five million cervical “manipulations” at The National College of Chiropractic Clinic from 1965 to 1980.   Not one!

            Everything comes with a risk. That is a fact that cannot be ignored by anyone. Before I go into too much detail lets look at the supposed risk of chiropractic compared to other things that most of us do without giving a second thought. According to www.squidoo.com/oddsdying on the odds of dying:

HomerReeper2Stroke in the general population 1 in 23

Motor-vehicle accidents over-all 1 in 87

Complications of medical care 1 in 1,313

Fire in building or structure 1 in 1,451

Drowning while in natural water 1 in 2,370

Fall involving furniture 1 in 4,225

Storm 1 in 4,346

Struck by lightening in your lifetime (Est. 80 years) 1 in 5000

Drowning while in swimming-pool 1 in 6,258

Drowning while in bath-tub 1 in 11,042

Average of the insanely large range from “scientific” studies of chiropractic and stroke 1 in 2,497,500

            Now I am not statistician but I can’t figure out how the risk of dying from stroke being 1 in 23 in the general population and the absolute worse estimate for stroke due to a neck manipulation being 1 in 5000 can somehow show chiropractic to be dangerous. If anything it seems to show that we are more likely to drop on the sidewalk from a stroke than on a chiropractic table by thousands of times over. But then again, a chiropractic adjusting table is technically furniture and since that is statistically more dangerous than the adjustment from the chiropractor, it may increase the risk.

For the sake of argument though, let us pretend that the risk is around 1 in 5000. Think of how many chiropractors would have strokes victims in their offices since the average chiropractor delivers around 5200 neck adjustments a year. That averages out to at least one per DrSyringeyear per chiropractor. Think of how much malpractice insurance would cost for chiropractors if every chiropractor was causing one stroke per year! In reality medical malpractice insurance is at least 30x more expensive than chiropractic malpractice insurance. So if $$$ talks then chiropractors are at least 30x safer.

 

One of the major logical errors that we need to be careful of is mistaking correlation with cause and effect. For example, when the weather gets hot more people choose to drink lemonade. Since August is a hotter month in America the increase in lemonade consumption has a correlation to the month of August. However, it would be silly to say that it is the actual month of August that causes the lemonade to jump in peoples’ mouths. This is basically the same with strokes and Chiropractic. Most people who are in the early stages of a stroke start off having headache, shoulder, and/or neck pain. These are very common reasons for seeing a chiropractor. So these people, who are already in the process of having a stroke, walk into the chiropractic office and guess what follows. There may be an argument for a correlation with chiropractic and stroke but there is absolutely no scientific evidence that chiropractic adjustments causes strokes.
ThinkDangerous

The second logical error we need to be careful of would be to only read part of the information and then jump to a conclusion. The majority of the studies that show a higher risk than is reported in reality do not just look at chiropractors. According to Terrett ([iii]); “manipulations” administered by a Kung Fu practitioner, GPs, osteopaths, physiotherapists, a wife, a blind masseur, and an Indian barber were incorrectly attributed to chiropractors.” We must recognize that an MD, DO, or DPT can take a weekend course on “manipulation” then proceed to adjust everyone who comes into their office. However, chiropractors train for a minimum of three years to adjust correctly. This is a huge difference in the amount of training that each profession receives. Personally I would never let a medical doctor adjust me. I would also never let a chiropractor remove my appendix or prescribe me drugs simply because that is not what they are trained for and thus the risks go up.

Here is the bottom line, when all of the literature is read thoroughly; zero scientific evidence can be found that shows chiropractic neck adjustments causes strokes. This is simply a case of fear mongering. When the absolute worst-case scenario is about as likely as getting struck by lightning and in the best case we are 25x more likely to be killed by an asteroid, then chiropractic seems extremely safe by comparison.

[i] Chestnut J: The stroke issue: Paucity of valid data, plethora of unsubstantiated conjecture. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2004;27;368-72. http://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161- 4754(04)00054-5/fulltext

 

[ii] Jaskoviac P: Complications arising from manipulation of the cervical spine. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1980;3:213. Not available online.

 

[iii] Terrett AGJ: Misuse of the literature by medical authors in discussing spinal manipulative therapy injury. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1995;18:203. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7636409

 

 

#4) Chiropractic adjustments hurt

Unfortunately, of all the myths I have discussed so far, this one is the most likely to be true. A good chiropractic adjustment will most of the time feel like a huge relief. However there are some factors that can make this myth true like:Ouch

1) The skill of the chiropractor at finding the right place to adjust

2) The severity of the subluxation

3) The skill of the chiropractor at delivering the adjustment

4) The ability of the patient to relax

5) How much pain the patient is in to begin with

6) How much dysfunction the patient has to begin with

A great chiropractor can make the most difficult adjustment easy and comfortable but a poor chiropractor can make the easiest adjustment very uncomfortable. It greatly depends on the skill of the chiropractor and how good of a relationship between the patient and the chiropractor. That is why when people ask me what to look for in a chiropractor I always start with the most important factor; How much do you trust the person with the chiropractic degree?

Your relationship with your chiropractor plays a big factor in how easy it is to relax right before the adjustment. Since you cannot control how the chiropractor adjusts the best factor you have in your control is your ability to relax. Stress:RelaxThe more relaxed your muscles are the easier it is for your body to correctly receive the adjustive force. This is why some chiropractors recommend receiving a massage before an adjustment. However I totally disagree. A good chiropractor should be able to place your body into a position that is easy to relax into and deliver the adjustment faster than your muscles can tense up. I feel it is laziness on the part of the chiropractor to recommend massage first. If the chiropractic adjustment restores the proper communication between our brain and body then it would make more sense to have your brain fully in charge of the muscles before trying to get them to relax with massage. Otherwise you will be fighting against the massage therapist rather than working together.CrabPinch

The next thing to remember is that there are multiple ways to accomplish something. It is your responsibility to let your chiropractor know that what they are doing makes you uncomfortable and you would like them to try it a different way. A good chiropractor should be able to accommodate this. Again, the more you relax the better so if you are being positioned in a way that makes it more difficult to let go then say something.

One last factor that is not in anyone’s control is the amount of pain that someone comes in with. The more pain you are in before the adjustment the more uncomfortable the adjustment might be but the more relief you will feel after. On the opposite hand, the more dysfunction someone has before the adjustment the more discomfort they might feel after the adjustment. Healing takes time and that time is not always comfortable. Think back to when you were a child if you experienced “growing” pains. Many times our brains will send us signals to tell us to ReduceSpeedslow down so our body can heal, grow, or reorganize. If our brain has been having trouble communicating with our body for a long time then after an adjustment, when the flow of information has been restored, the brain will have a better picture of how it needs to organize the body. Once it gets to work, many times, it needs us to stop stressing our body for a while and thus it triggers pain or discomfort to slow us down. One of my favorite chiropractic quotes; “Chiropractic is designed to help you function better not necessarily to help you feel better.” Now improved function will eventually lead to improved feelings but not always instantaneously. This is another reason that my family uses chiropractic to maintain function rather than to restore dysfunction after it has set in.

 

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