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Is an Adjustment Enough?

chiropractic adjustmentWhen my dad was attempting to reverse his cancer, I remember having a dinner table conversation about the wisdom of including chiropractic care along with his choice of employing chemotherapy. Since he had benefited from chiropractic care in the past, I assumed that he would see its value and add it to his protocol. He did not.

“Adjustments just aren’t powerful enough to fight cancer,” he said matter-of-factly. “To beat cancer you need something far more powerful.”

Even though at the time I was 57, his parental tone suggested that the matter was settled and needed no further discussion. (Apparently, an intravenously administered poison designed to kill the cancer without killing him made far more sense than trusting the inborn wisdom of his body.)

As I chewed my food during the loud silence that followed, it occurred to me that this might be a common belief, especially among patients of chiropractors who present chiropractic as a bone-spine-muscle therapy rather than a nerve-whole-body-function resource.

Naturally, if you’re a chiropractor who subscribes to a purely mechanistic chiropractic model, my assertions here aren’t likely to prompt you to jettison your beliefs. However, this “what-can-chiropractic-actually-do” subject came up this past weekend during a presentation at the Ohio State Chiropractic Association, and then later during a subsequent visit at the home of an Ohio chiropractor friend who has morphed his practice into an integrative medicine offering.

As I remember, it was part of a follow-up question to my frequent riff on the four-subluxation model (physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual subluxations) to explain why sometimes chiropractic adjustments alone will not resolve a patient’s problem.

“Does that mean we have to learn how to treat all four subluxations?” I was asked.

“Of course not,” I replied. “In fact, the scope of practice in your state may or may not preclude you from doing so. My point is, if patients aren’t responding as you would expect from your application of energy at opportune times and places along the spine, either the physical, chemical or emotional stress that is producing the subluxation is still be present, or they may be suffering from one or more of these other subluxations or “separations.” So, you might want to develop a network of other resources or practitioners to whom you can direct patients if they seem to have something going on in these other areas.”

Does that make sense? (The four-subluxation model is my attempt to explain why the 10% (or fewer) portion of many practices don’t seem to respond as you would expect.)

I wouldn’t have written this except for something that happened two hours later.

Before my chiropractor friend and I had driven twenty minutes south on I-71, the same subject came up again!

After speaking all afternoon, I was more than happy to let dinner settle and just listen.

“These days, patients just don’t respond like they used to. They’re living more stressful lives, their diet sucks, they don’t get enough exercise; it’s a mess. An adjustment just isn’t enough to get patients turned around,” he said. “And you combine that with a short attention span and the need for almost instant gratification, and most patients just don’t have the patience for a long-term, lasting solution to their problem.”

Again, the adjustment-just-isn’t-enough theme, I thought to myself! Twice in the same day. This must be significant.

Is it possible? Is DD’s chiropractic of 1895 before antibiotic-fed livestock, genetically-modified grains, artificially-flavored convenience foods, mercury-preserved vaccines, fluoride-injected water and pollution-laden air still valid? And that’s on top of the sedentary lifestyles, obesity, relentless 24-hour news cycle, fitful sleep and economic uncertainties!

Is a series of chiropractic adjustment enough? Is it reasonable to expect today’s chiropractic patients to regularly experience miracles from adjustments alone? Do you explain why (because of the issues listed above and others) that recovery is likely to take longer than the patience of their insurance company? Do you regularly recommend home care procedures and lifestyle changes to enhance the healing process?

Are adjustments enough?

Comments (6)

Joshua Cleveland, D.C.:

I think "is an adjustment enough?" is an intentionally vague question but attempts to pigeon hole the role of chiropractors....something your Dad may have tried and something the Ohio D.C. tried, sadly. If the DC is not addressing the cause of the subluxation, an adjustment is not enough. If the DC is ignoring that our lives are loaded with insults that we cannot control unless we know how, an adjustment is not enough. The adjustment addresses the underlying symptom...the subluxation. What caused the subluxation must be addressed for chiropractic to be enough.

Nate Coffin:

Limitation of Matter is a key concept here. I am seeing huge improvements in quality of life in people who were long plateaued after suggesting decompression protocal. That table creates forces I could never produce by hands alone.

Christine Hafer:

Following what Dr. James Chestnut says- we (chiropractors) may not be everything, but we're by far better than anything else out there.

There must be a 5th cause of subluxation as well.
DD certainly wrote about it and you hinted about it in your blog. It is CHEMICAL, either external or internal. So yeah, 21st century pollution certainly makes adjustments less effective. Chiropractic has risen to this challenge through Applied Kinesiology. Chiropractors can now test for chemical influences on the subluxation complex. NET has given us a tool to use to grapple withe emotional/spiritual/intellectual influences on the subluxation. So not all is lost.

Without the adjustment "north of atlas," nothing will change.


Michael Soucy, D.C.:

Great question Bill! I've always had a desire to become more effective as a chiropractor and early on came to believe that addressing all 4 types of subluxations was an important part of the equation. Thankfully I was led to read Simon Senzon's books about B.J. and D.D.. This helped me to begin to transition from a more mechanistic style of practice to a more vitalistic one, by initially working to develop my own sense of Innate Intelligence and transitioning to a more tonal type of technique. While we are naturally drawn to look for external things that we can do to improve results like techniques, new gadgets or procedures etc., its really about who we are inside. "Being not doing", as you succinctly put it a few blogs back. When you begin remember who you really are and recover that direct connection with Innate/UI then all the externals will take care of themselves and yes the emotional and spiritual subluxations will correct and you'll find you more and more patients will heal in far fewer visits. I feel I should warn you though, this can be a painful process.

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From November 2, 2011 6:27 AM

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