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

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Debunking The Popular Myths About Chiropractic Part 4

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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

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

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

 

 

Debunking The Popular Myths About Chiropractic Part 1

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Part 1

This will be the first of many post about some of the popular myths about chiropractic. What is fact and what is fiction? I am not sure how many post this will involve because the understanding about chiropractic is very muddled from inside the profession as well as from outside. If you are reading this and you want a specific topic covered please feel free to recommend it in the comments below. Also, since I am still new to blogging and have not figured out how to place references at the bottom, all of the references I use are linked to the highlighted words in the articles. Just click on the word and a new window should open up with the citation.

Here we go…

Myth #1) Chiropractors align your spine

This myth is very popular and propagated mostly by chiropractors who had limited anatomy and physiological spine-alignmentknowledge as they try to explain to the lay public what they were doing. While it is true that the vast majority of people who undergo chiropractic care do show significant improvement in “normal” alignment, chiropractors should not be taking credit for this. The alignment of our spine (posture) is a function of our brain, muscles, and connective tissue. Our brain’s job is to organize coordinated responses to adapt to the stress of gravity on our bodies during movement: our movements and/or the environment’s. A chiropractor can give the body a very specific force that helps the body remove mechanical causes of misinformation traveling along the nervous system. Only then can the brain utilize the correct information to improve alignment. The only way this is done is by the brain signaling for changes to take place in the cells that make up the tissues responsible for alignment in the first place. This means that the actual improvement is done in and by the person receiving the adjustment, not the chiropractor.

Brain2In fact the brain can utilize any outside force to improve alignment if that force is in the right place, at the right time, and in the right direction. However, it is MUCH more efficient to have an expert deliver the force rather than waiting and hoping that the right “accident” will come along. Many other professions such as massage and physical therapy can help the muscles and connective tissue change shape to support better alignment, but chiropractors are the only professionals trained to help the body remove the mechanical stress on the nervous system that causes maladapted tissue dysfunction in the first place. When your brain can freely communicate with your body YOU will correct improper alignment and posture. No one can move your body better than you, so don’t get duped into giving someone else this responsibility and power. Chiropractic can help you accomplish this but only you can actually do it!

Myth #2) Chiropractic is founded on pseudo-scienceTinHatArea

We can trace this myth back to the American Medical Association (AMA) directly. Before I get into that, though, I would like to give you a brief history of chiropractic and its founders. The use of spinal adjusting is more than four thousand years old with the first written records about it found in China around 2700 B.C. Many other civilizations have used spinal adjusting for thousands of years such as: Egypt, Greece and even some Native American tribes. This form of treatment has come in and out of favor with the different civilizations that had no interactions with each other, and so each can be said to have “discovered” it on their own. The same can be said for Daniel David Palmer (D.D. for short), although it has also been suggested that he D.D.Palmerdid have contact with bone setters and the founder of osteopathy prior to the following date:

In 1895 D.D. found a backbone out of place on the janitor for his office building named Harvey Lillard who had been deaf for 17HarveyLillard years prior. After two tries to “rack” the bone back into place Harvey’s hearing was restored permanently. After this, D.D. dedicated his life to studying why this happened the way that it did and taught others how to do it again. Although what he discovered was not new he did finally discover why, after centuries of anecdotal evidence, adjusting the spine positively affects health. He was way ahead of his time and like most geniuses was harassed and even jailed because of it. At this time in history, the mainstream medical profession was still bleeding people to get rid of “bad blood” and injecting them with mercury to “balance out the humors.” Meanwhile D.D. Palmer was writing and teaching about the nervous system being the master control system of the body and that the Innate (meaning inborn or born with)  Intelligence of the body used the brain as command central to organize all of the cells of the body to work together. He stressed the importance of proper “tone” of the nerves and position of the tissues that surround them in the body. Palmer proposed a unique theory about the nature of health/disease and gave credit to the role of the patient’s body and its innate healing ability, rather than doctors’ treatments, as the key to health and healing. This made him many enemies in the medical community.

As Chiropractic began to grow and become more scientifically validated, the medical community began to organize and attack anyone outside of their control claiming that they were the only ones with scientific validity behind their treatments and all others were “quacks.” Chiropractors by the hundreds where routinely jailed for practicing medicine without a license. The amazing thing is that most of these jailed chiropractors were released after their patients protested in front of jails and court houses across the country, only to be arrested again for the same false charges days or weeks later.

Eventually chiropractic was legally recognized as a separate and distinct profession from medicine, thus protecting chiropractors from these types of false charges. The medical community did not give up, however, and in the 1960’s the AMA created the Committee on Quackery to “contain and eliminate the Chiropractic profession.” Mountains of propaganda against chiropractic were distributed and medical doctors were discouraged from working with chiropractors upon threat of loosing their licenses.

HealthJusticeIt was not until the late 1970’s that a lawsuit was filed against the AMA and 11 other medical associations, which came to be known as “The Wilk Trials”. After almost 10 years of court battles the decision was handed down and a ruling was made. The court found that the AMA and its members were guilty of “participating in a conspiracy against chiropractors in violation of the nation’s antitrust laws.”

Even though the AMA was forced to stop sending out propaganda and refusing medical doctors the right to work with chiropractors, the damage had been done. Still today there are many people, including medical doctors, thatChiroPubMedResults continue buy into the myth that chiropractic is pseudo-science. The funny thing is that there are literally hundreds of studies proving the efficacy of chiropractic published in peer reviewed medical journals, but still, this myth remains.

While it can be argued that chiropractic was founded on incomplete science, due to lack of anatomical and Anatomyphysiological knowledge during the late 1800’s, to say that it is or was founded on pseudo-science is blatantly false. Even today we do not fully understand exactly how the nervous system works and interacts with the other systems of the body. So we can definitely argue that today’s entire health care system is based on incomplete science. And it is a safe bet that future generations will look back and laugh at the way we describe things just as we look back on previous generations’ language, wording, and understanding. This is where most people who propagate the myth of chiropractic pseudo-science make their points, reading the historical words but refusing to find out what the author was attempting to describe. Just because our understanding has increased does not mean that previous generations were wrong. We just have more information today, and all of that new knowledge has added to the scientific validity of chiropractic no matter what words the founders used to describe why people function better after a good adjustment.

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

Click here to read Part 2