Chiropractic vs. Medical? Why not both?

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Discussion On Chiropractic Doctors, Medical Doctors, and Scope Of Practice.

This can be a touchy subject. I can only tell you the way I see things and fill you in on some of my experiences over the last 13 years and hopefully not upset too many people on either side of the issue. Here goes nothing.

Although the medical/chiropractic relationship has progressed in the last 5 years, why do you think medical doctors have tended to lean away from the chiropractic profession for so many years? Is it because they’re tired of us taking money from their pockets and see us as a threat? Or because they don’t want us to become the top dog? I don’t think that has anything to do with it at all. I think, like any profession, a few bad seeds have a tendency to spoil the whole bowl.

You may not believe this, but I know some very good and, yes, very respectable attorneys. But, we’re taught and told that they are ALL bad when, of course, we know they are not. Some will go the extra mile to make sure that they help you. Some build a relationship with their clients. And, yes, some even care about their clients and their well-being.

I view chiropractic much in the same way. I think medical doctors have leaned away from our profession as a whole because they have had experiences with patients that told them about their chiropractor claiming that they could cure their cancer. Or that they could cure their gall bladder issues. Things of that nature. Here is where it gets touchy. I am a musculoskeletal chiropractor so you could say that I lean away from claims like that too. Add the factor that it would not be a stretch to imagine a scenario where a cancer patient puts their faith in a well-meaning chiropractor only to wait too long for conventional medical treatment to be of any effect. That patient’s battle may be lost by then. That is the part that the medical field gets to see. While it is true that more medicines kill people than chiropractors ever do any amount of harm to, I don’t think that’s a reason to shun all medication. As with most things in life, there are risks and rewards that should be weighed, and weighed again, before a solid decision can be made. In the scenario above, why not undergo conventional therapy AND chiropractic if you have that faith in your chiropractor’s ability to treat your condition?

Simply put, I believe the rift between chiropractors and the medical field comes from a perception that chiropractic, as a whole, tries to treat outside of their perceived scope of practice, thus leading patient’s conditions to deteriorate needlessly.

You should know that is just not true. Of course, it is true with some chiropractors which goes back to the “bad seeds ruining the whole bowl” discussion. Most people who talk down chiropractors have either had a singular bad experience with one of them and assume they are all the same or they heard something bad from their uncle’s friend’s niece. Or they have seen too many Chuck Norris movies and somehow relate his “neck moves” to those of chiropractors. Either way, the people that denigrate chiropractors have mostly never been to a chiropractor and are repeating non factual hearsay. I am a firm believer that there have been “bad seeds” in every profession from the beginning of time.

Think about it: if you were to have a fall or simply wake up with neck pain, what would be the better option? Would it be to suffer until it goes away with no idea of what is causing it or if it ever fully resolved? Would it be to go to the medical doctor and get pain killers and muscle relaxers that just throw a blanket over the symptom and do nothing to focus on the source? Or would it be to go to a reasonable, conservative chiropractor that can usually have you cleared up fairly quickly? I may be biased but I can tell you what I would be doing.

Here’s an example. I had a lady come to see me several years ago with severe headaches. Debilitating headaches. She had been through the medical gambit including, but not limited to, a nuclear bone scan and injections into the base of her skull. Nothing helped. She simply could not function. Truthfully, I had my doubts as to whether I could help. But, in two weeks, she had NO headaches whatsoever after having suffered with them for over five years. Though I have confidence in my abilities, I have to admit that we were both amazed given her treatment history. This is the part the medical field does not get to see. This is the powerful part. Now, if her medical doctor had offered chiropractic as a viable option in the beginning, she could have avoided some major medical bills and severely shortened her time of suffering.

On the other end of that discussion, it’s fair to say that the medical field ought to be able to depend on a chiropractor to be knowledgable enough to know when his treatments are no longer helping and then refer the patient to someone that is better able to help them.

Please do not assume that I am taking up for the medical field here. The American Medical Association has initiated a lawsuit against the chiropractic profession as a whole here in Texas recently and you could say I am less than happy with the AMA. I’m sure they’ll be losing sleep over it. Anyway, they have constantly tried to put chiropractors in THEIR box when our profession is completely separate from their box and should remain so. I’m just going to stop there and maybe pick this up on another blog.

The question is, what kind of chiropractor do you seek? What does he do to find your issues? This can be as varied as the Texas Panhandle weather. Some do some very “different” types of things to try to narrow down what they think is wrong. I prefer the chiropractors that simply put their hands on you and feel their way to finding out what is wrong. But, in the end, it all comes down to the same thing: make things move, focus on structural integrity, and concern the patient with their overall wellness.

Jeff S. Williams, D.C.
Amarillo Chiropractor