When thinking of chiropractic therapy, many people immediately become squeamish, distrustful, or just ambivalent. “I can’t stand the sound my neck makes,” “I will never go to a chiropractor again,” or “I don’t need to see one,” are all common phrases on the topic. In our culture’s view, it sits on a fine line between medically sound and expensively unreliable. Those who support it are usually those in the field, and everything else you read are usually people sharing horror stories. So where did chiropractic therapy come from and what does the research say about it?
“According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition, chiropractic is ‘a health care profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on general health’. Chiropractic treatment procedures emphasize the manual techniques, including joint adjustment and/or manipulation, with a specific focus on subluxation.” (Salehi, Alireza, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4591574/). Wikipedia’s definition of subluxation “implies the presence of an incomplete or partial dislocation of a joint or organ.” Chiropractic focuses heavily on the spine because the spine is the highway our central nervous system uses to send signals to the body. When a vertebrae shifts out of alignment, it can cause stress that directly affects the areas receiving signals specific to that area of the spine.
Spinal manipulation can be traced back to before the time of Hippocrates. Interestingly enough, this famous doctor, author, and philosopher distrusted the medical system of his time, the Cnidan School of Medicine, because they treated only the part of the body that was negatively affected. Sound familiar? Hippocrates was a huge proponent of spinal manipulation and even created the inversion table to cure his patients of scoliosis. He has penned many of the famous quotes we have on health today, such as “Your foods shall be your ‘remedies,’ and your ‘remedies’ shall be your foods,” or “get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.”
It wasn’t until Daniel David Palmer that a scientific rational was attached to the practice in 1897. This is where the word Chiropractic, or “done by hand” in greek, became attached to the application of
spinal manipulation. It immediately caused discord being nearly identical to Andrew Still’s principals of Osteopathy; a whole body treatment using musculoskeletal manipulations. So in walks this bearded, self-imposed specialist of Osteopathic-based medicine with a staunch belief in the Innate power of the body and the unseen healing forces within us. It’s like the kid sitting behind you in grade school who received high praise for the work he just copied by looking over your shoulder. So what did the Osteopathic community do? They licensed their practice and began a legal war against chiropractors for, guess what? For practicing medicine without a license.
What a rough beginning, and it didn’t get easier through the years. DD Palmer’s standpoint on spinal manipulation was indeed unique. He believed that God created our bodies with innate healing powers. That we had something intangible inside of us that helped with healing. Quackery, most people would call it, yet science is now supporting his position. DD Palmer was treating the body as a whole, where other physicians were treating symptoms. From newly discovered research on the micro biome and how our bacteria influences our brain, we are beginning to understand that nearly every system in our body is integrated. And that intangible healing power? Cancer research proves that an anti-stress lifestyle full of happiness and laughter increases the chance of remission, if not curing it entirely. http://healmindbody.com/spontaneous-remission-of-cancer/.
In all of the scholarly articles on Chiropractic, we find that the results are minimal when it comes to improving health conditions. This is consistent. It shouldn’t make you doubt the therapy, however, because there are very few who follow the entire treatment plan. When you see a chiropractor, you are x-rayed and scanned to see where your subluxations and areas of muscle spasms reside. Once the problems are discovered, a treatment plan is written up where you will visit the chiropractor at least twice a week for a month or two, and then once a week. So many people are unprepared for this extensive time and financial commitment. It’s not a con people, I promise. When you have an area of the spine that has been out of place, or damaged, the muscles have changed with it. If you aren’t consistently putting it back in place, it will fall back to it’s wayward place. It’s like trying to sleep on half of the comfortable body indentation in your bed. You end up rolling right back into that pocket.
Another reason for failed results in how chiropractic heals the body, is that we are only treating the symptoms and not trying for a cure. You can continually go to the chiropractor, but if you aren’t engaging in exercise and eating healthy, you won’t see results. Eating a daily diet with sugar and carbs will wreak havoc on your gut lining and allow for pathogens to enter your blood stream, causing inflammatory diseases and impaired immune function. Every co-pay or full chiropractic adjustment fee will be for a temporary fix, like paying rent for a house you live in once a month. There are also chiropractors out there who are in it for the day job, not focusing on true healing techniques to better your life. Here is a list of what to look for in a chiropractor, https://www.angieslist.com/articles/tips-find-best-chiropractor.htm.
A surprising find, among the research, is the amount of developmental disabilities that are improved with chiropractic. I was ready to find the same, minimally conclusive evidence as before but I was blown away, and excited. A study comprising of 157 children from 6-13 with severe developmental delays and other learning disabilities was made to research the benefits of a multi modal chiropractic therapy. Every one of the 157 children “showed improvements in the 8 psychometric tests and 20 areas of cognitive function compared with their values before treatment. Their ability to concentrate, maintain focus and attention, and control impulsivity and their performance at home and school improved.” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19836603)
Another “trial on autism involved 14 children and concluded that the clinical improvement of autistic children under full spine chiropractic adjustment can be enhanced four fold and may reach to complete cure if the technique of adjustment is shifted to upper cervical.” (http://chiromt.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1746-1340-16-11). More support for neural improvement is a study just published which “shows that when we adjust the spine, we significantly increase activity in the prefrontal cortex. ‘The study showed a change in brain function by almost 20% on average’. The prefrontal cortex is the area in the brain where higher learning and cognition happens.” (http://circleofdocs.com/without-a-doubt-chiropractic-research-shows-adjusting-the-subluxated-spine-changes-brain-function/)
This is great news for developmental delays and disabilities! There are still more benefits I have not covered, but I will leave that for another day. This information was intended to root out the reasons for our distrust in chiropractic therapy. The main reason being our blindly trusted medical system. We have accumulated so much knowledge in the past century that, as Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride explains it in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, “No doctor in the world can possibly know it all in detail, so specializing allows doctors to concentrate on a particular area of knowledge, to learn it thoroughly and to become an expert in that area.” We are in an unprecedented situation where we are so proficient in treating the symptoms people are having, that we have lost the practice of taking care of the whole body. With the severe lack in nutritional training and treatment developed without the new understanding of gut bacteria’s influence on immune and psychological function, more and more people are getting sick. We have lost the ancient wisdom of healing the body from within. Let’s start taking a more functional approach to healing.
Here’s a shout out to my amazing chiropractors who were the first people to help us with Calum. It was the first time we have ever seen an improvement in his symptoms (night time screaming, screeching, clumsiness, irritable bowels, etc.) Also, after the very first adjustment, Calum was able to jump with two feet for the very first time. Not only did they help him, they helped all of us. Dr. Stefanie was even there for the birth of our fourth child, for support and to adjust myself and our newborn son. So if you are in the Charlotte area, these people are family.
Adjusting the World Chiropractic