Patient Media

« Monday Morning Motivation | Main | Meet Tommy »

'Tic and 'Tor

Blind chiropractors?Is the future of the chiropractic profession more likely assured by being an evidenced-based-treatment-for-skeletal-muscular-maladies-by-restoring-proper-spinal-biomechanics or by being a vitalistic-art-science-and-philosophy-addressing-whole-body-health-by-invoking-the-self-healing-qualities-imbued-living-things?

Which model best serves the patient, the chiropractor, the profession and the planet?

If you’ve had your head down, applying chiropractic principles to patients, trying to get paid by insurance companies and running a small business, you may not have had the time (or interest) to explore such questions. That’s understandable. But crunch time is coming and it’s important to know where you stand on this issue.

Crunch time? Yes. In the United Kingdom, Australia, Texas, New Mexico, Connecticut, Nova Scotia and elsewhere, chiropractic is under attack. Frequently these attacks come from within the ranks of fellow chiropractors who are embarrassed by the “philosofooy” crowd and subluxation-based chiropractors and favor the more “enlightened” view proffered by research, peer review and consensus.

It’s an age-old battle.

Patients (and insurance carriers) see chiropractors as spine doctors. Both look through the allopathic lens of symptom treating, seeing the body as a collection of parts that breakdown independently of the others and that being symptom-free is the objective.

Conversely, chiropractors who practice in a way congruent with the principles of chiropractic see themselves as facilitators, guides and allies. Their holistic view of the body helps them appreciate that each of us is greater than the sum of our parts. Each of us is an experiment of one and that the objective of care is to help patients adapt to their environment and express their fullest potential. (Impossible to do a double-blind study if we’re each experiments of one!)

You can see why this creates a schism within chiropractic. And why reaching a compromise satisfactory to both parties is so difficult.

The easiest path, the path of least resistance, is to fall in lock step with the “big dog” and the cultural notion of health care as symptom treating. Insurance companies live there. So do the drug marketers who use the media to the public with their pill-for-every-ill messages, indoctrinating an instant gratification public with an easy solution to their ache, pain, sleeping difficulty or other medicalized problem. At first glance, presenting chiropractic in a way acceptable to this model would hold great promise.

The more difficult path is to present a chiropractic solution that is at odds with the preconceived notions of patients. That they’re the doctor, not the chiropractor. That they do the healing, not the adjustment. That chiropractic care can have unpredictable whole-body effects. That being symptom-free doesn’t mean you’re healthy. That chiropractic care doesn’t treat disease. That anyone, regardless of age, can likely benefit from chiropractic care—if they have subluxations.

Turns out both views about chiropractic are correct. It’s not mechanism OR vitalism. It’s mechanism AND vitalism.

It reminds me of the blind men standing around an elephant, each adamantly describing an elephant as a spear (tusk), a snake (trunk), a fan (ear), a tree (leg) or a whip (tail). Each one is correct, but overlooking the bigger picture.

It was B. J. Palmer who observed that there things good for ‘tor (the chiropractor) that may not be good for ‘tic (chiropractic). Generous third party reimbursement was good for ‘tor, but compromised ‘tic. Reducing chiropractic to the treatment of headaches and back pain may be good (easier) for ‘tor, but bad for ‘tic. Choosing to ignore this debate may be convenient for ‘tor, but bad for ‘tic.

Long before insurance “equality” chiropractic survived by being different. Chiropractors appealed to those who had a general distaste for doctors, were suspicious of pills and who wanted a natural approach to better health. That audience is still around; in fact, it’s actually grown, thanks to the aging baby boom population.

Where is chiropractic? Still chasing headaches and back pain. And anything else a stingy insurance will reimburse for.

Being different, and not merely a me-too version of “medicine lite,” is the access to a thriving practice. After all, if grocery stores figure there’s a market for the more expensive and often less attractive organic produce (no third party reimbursement here!), it seems that ‘tors would find more than enough resonance in their community for the essential premise of ‘tic.

How is your community going to learn about chiropractic?

Comments (2)

The pervasiveness of the medical paradigm is everywhere. It is, in fact, a cult that is so large that it has taken over. Should Chiropractors join this cult? The schools have, the associations have and most chiropractors have. To what end? The profession seems to be retracting based on the phone calls I get. Doctors need help. But moreover, our clients need help! The vast majority of people that enter my office have a health complaint; they have symptoms, usually a lot of them. Most of them are looking for relief.
They have tried the medical model and have heard that we are DIFFERENT! So I tell them "I am different!" I wish I could say chiropractic is different but it seems it is not! How can I tell them that Chiropractic is different when we provide the same old worn out symptom treating care?
How does my community find out? I tell them, I tell them, and I tell them again.
PS. I just got a flyer for a seminar put on by a DC. He uses the word "Healthcare Provider" multiple times. Last I checked I am not the one providing health!

Kresimir Jug:

How is my community going to learn about chiropractic?

What a great question. I guess initially they will learn the principles from myself and my wife. However the people I teach (the ones who understand) will begin to slowly teach others. And the "tribe" will begin to form.

I like the fact that I am one of few in my city practicing chiropracTIC. It makes it easy to be unique. I know the other chiropracTORs in my city. It's easy to put on events together and draw out crowds that are ready to hear our message. Businesses struggle for years on how to stand out from the rest, but for us its easy.

It's also getting easier. I am very grateful for chiropracTORs such as James Chestnut and Chritopher Kent (and many others) who are showing us that chiropracTIC has scientific all along. Defending our style of practice, helping us stand up and make claims with far more clarity and confidence

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

From March 29, 2010 5:00 PM

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 29, 2010 5:00 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Monday Morning Motivation.

The next post in this blog is Meet Tommy.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.