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Our 53rd Year

Chiropractic Gains Respectability By Ruth Sackman

“No question, manipulation is more accepted,” said Dr. Scott Haldeman, a neurologist, who is also a chiropractor. “Ten years ago if you practiced manipulation, you were a quack; you couldn’t get published and were never invited to meetings. Now I can’t keep up with the invitations.”

For years chiropractic was the butt of hostility engendered by the medical hierarchy. No medical plans covered treatment; laws generated by the AMA, because of the mistaken impression that adjustments were hazardous, controlled their work. At one point the American Chiropractic Association felt compelled to sue the AMA for interfering with their profession.

Doctors dismissed spinal manipulation as quackery. It was discouraged and considered unethical for doctors to associate with chiropractors. But times have changed: in 1991 the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons included, for the first time, a symposium on back manipulation. In a show of hands, almost a third of the 1000 member audience admitted referring patients for manipulation.

It is obvious that chiropractic is beneficial in spine, nerve and muscle problems where no physical impairment exists. Finally, recognition of manipulation is moving center stage. It is now much more common for physicians to include chiropractic in their practice or to refer patients to other professionals. Chiropractic adjustment, especially for back pain can return an employee to his job earlier than usual, consequently, saving many man hours. This is a boon that industry appreciates.

Sometimes chiropractic, under proper conditions, can relieve back pain in as little as one manipulation instead of weeks of treatment or, possibly, dependence on drugs.

Spinal manipulation dates back to Hippocrates and was practiced widely by American doctors until the last century when it fell out of favor because it was considered unscientific. Established medicine became the hostage of science and science can be defective. Instead of accepting what worked, they demanded a scientific rationale or else a practice or theory was relegated to the scrap heap.

Chiropractic is a valuable tool capable of restoring normal mobility to vertebral joints, hence relaxing stiffness and spasms in muscles and pressure on nerves. Just removing vertabral stress on nerve ends can open up nerve signals that direct the body’s biological function. When we use the terms “whole body” or “holistic,” it means correcting all impairments, even minor ones, to free the body’s performance in restoring health.

It is gratifying to know that conventionally oriented practitioners are now more open to embracing other disciplines, such as chiropractic, thus providing their patients with the advantage of more comprehensive health care.