Are chiropractors worth it?
- The origins of the word chiropractic can be traced to the Greek terms cheir (hand) and praktos (done)--meaning “done by hand.”
- In 2020, there were over 100,000 chiropractic licenses issued in the US.
- The Professional Football Chiropractic Society (PFCS) provides chiropractic services for all 32 NFL teams in the US.
- A Gallup-Palmer College of Chiropractic annual survey from 2018 revealed that 52% of US adults agree that “most chiropractors are trustworthy.”
Many do not realize that chiropractic care originated when avid spiritualist Daniel David Palmer, the 'father' of chiropractic, received the modality's basic principles during 'a seance by a long-dead doctor.' Palmer used this information to perform his first chiropractic adjustment in 1895 on a deaf janitor's single cervical vertebra, thus restoring the man's hearing. However, there is little agreement among witnesses about what actually happened at this event. And modern chiropractic is as shaky as its ghost-story beginnings.
Because there is such a broad range of chiropractic approaches, there is a marked inconsistency among practitioners. Some chiropractors stick to the science of spinal adjustments relieving neck and back pain, while others tout that complete wellness can be achieved through their care. As researcher Dr. Ronald Glick relates, 'The controversy comes in when chiropractors make claims about treating non-musculoskeletal conditions' because they have very little basis in science.
But, aside from assertions about achieving overall health and vitality, chiropractic care can sometimes be harmful. In 2014, the American Heart Association released a statement saying that getting your neck adjusted by a chiropractor may lead to an increased risk of stroke. The 'energetic thrusts and rotations' involved with chiropractic may lead to a condition called cervical artery dissection, which can cause blood clots. The Mayo Clinic also cautions that injuries resulting from chiropractic adjustments can include 'a herniated disk or a worsening of an existing disk herniation' and a 'compression of nerves in the lower spinal column.'
Although chiropractic care has become very trendy, it's important to remember its limitations and associated risks.
According to the National Institutes of Health, chiropractic is a “licensed health care profession that emphasizes the body’s ability to heal itself.” Although they don’t prescribe medicines, chiropractors are highly educated medical professionals sought out by 22 million Americans annually. They must first earn an undergraduate degree of at least 90 credit hours, or about three years before being accepted into an accredited chiropractic program. During this time, students study human anatomy and biology along with physiology, chemistry, and other related subjects. Once accepted into a 3.3-year chiropractic program, students also take classes in biochemistry, nutrition, and pulmonary physiology. It is important to note that chiropractic programs are trimester programs attended by students year-round. To become a licensed chiropractor, students must pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exam in addition to state licensing requirements.
Many patients seek out chiropractic care after physical injury, not only to restore bodily function but to effectively manage pain as well. Others use chiropractic care as a preventative measure to promote a healthy lifestyle from the inside out. Chiropractic care involves manipulating the musculoskeletal system to restore proper alignment of the spinal structure. Every organ and tissue in the body is connected to the spinal cord in some fashion--in fact, all nerves in the body originate from the spinal column. When the musculoskeletal system is in correct alignment, the body can function properly, healing itself from many tissue injuries and traumatic events. Chiropractic care is often used as a healthy alternative to help restore full function and maintain mobility without the need for medications or surgery.