With all the different overtures that I’m involved with, especially Patient Media, our Perfect Patients website service and more recently the Choose Natural health directory, non-chiropractic patients will often weigh in with their perspective.
That happened recently in an exchange with my business partner, Steve Anson, which reminded me that chiropractic is still saddled with considerable “negative brand equity.” The email exchange began with a request to have his name removed from the mailing list of one of our Perfect Patients clients:
“I'm getting spammed from XYZChiropracticClinic.com. They've emailed me 4 times in the last week - none has an unsubscribe button. I'm sure he picked up my business card at a networking meeting - but that gives him no right to email me. I'm one of those who consider chiropractic more scam than medical science and never have and never will consult one except on the recommendation of my MD.”Then Steve responded.
“Thanks for your email. This is one of our client's sites and I will manually unsubscribe you immediately.How wonderful to have an exchange like this without it degenerating into name-calling! Amazingly, the unsubscriber took the time to reply and offer more detail:
I am fascinated by your views about chiropractic however.
Like you, I was an unbeliever until a friend convinced me to give chiropractic a go for constant headaches and a reoccurring wryneck (torticollis). That was 15 years ago and these health problems are now permanently resolved.
I'm interested to know what's caused you to have such a staunch negative view of chiropractic care? If you have a minute to share your thoughts, I'd really appreciate it.”
“Regarding my skepticism about chiropractic, it began in childhood (I'm 63 now) and my mother's attitude which was very negative. It was underlined for me during a business trip, now 15+ years ago, to St Louis. I traveled there to service several major clients. My partner for lunch bailed at the last minute and I ate alone at a restaurant near the McDonnell Douglas campus. There was a chiropractic event of some sort in St Louis at the time, and there were several tables filled with them. I was seated next to a table of eight. I was close enough to hear their conversation. It was not about treatment, exciting new regimens, new equipment or problems with office help, etc. – the things I would have ignored and gone back to the reading material I had brought. Instead, the entire discussion was sharing tactics they had developed to get patients to sign up for multiple treatments. In short, it was about maximizing their income, not about curing anyone of anything.Ouch. I’ve been in those hotel restaurants after the ballroom empties for lunch. And I can imagine the conversations amongst the least discerning doctors and staff as they set aside their daily devotion to patients to spend the weekend working on new ways to grow their practices. And how, when taken out of context, that attention might be misunderstood. To his credit, Steve persevered.
Then, about a year ago, I reached out to a chiropractor I had met in the course of my current business. For many years I was a runner - not particularly successful in terms of winning my age group, but had found the solitude of training and the camaraderie of races thoroughly enjoyable. After a couple of back surgeries my running days seemed over. Looking for help, I contacted the practitioner whose practice included training for athletes, including endurance athletes. I wanted help in conditioning again. What I got was slapped on a table for an adjustment and a recommendation for a series of adjustments, weekly for the next six weeks, despite my clear explanation of what I wanted—advice on training.
Those two experiences pretty well sealed my doubts about the legitimacy of chiropractic. I prefer medical practitioners whose primary interest is healing me, not sticking their hands in my wallet.”
“I totally understand. And thanks for saying out loud what many think and feel about chiropractic.
Like any profession, there are good and bad practitioners. My business partner and I deal with thousands of chiropractors and share the observation that the happiest and most successful ones focus on the wants and needs of patients. Making a good living is merely a positive by-product.
Actually, my wife is a chiropractor who runs a free clinic serving the poor here in South India.
She has told me that removing money from the equation has been quite liberating for her. She got into chiropractic to help people... not for the money. I expect most chiropractors start out that way and then, somewhere along the way, some lose their way.
Actually, living amongst so many poor people here in India, it's easy to see that many Westerners lose their way... forsaking "who" they are for the dollar. Sad really.
Thanks again for sharing your experience. I learned a lot.
As B. J. Palmer is often quoted (for better or worse), “You never know how far reaching something you think, say or do today, will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.”