Once or twice each month, we conduct a survey in an effort to help doctors of chiropractic better understand what is happening in the profession.1 The results of these surveys can be found in the pages of DC PracticeINSIGHTS magazine (www.dcpracticeinsights.com).
Not surprisingly, three-quarters of the profession (76 percent) agree that "chiropractors should take a leadership role in educating patients regarding physical activity, proper nutrition and maintaining the proper weight." Another 21 percent somewhat agree. While many would believe that chiropractic patients are generally healthier than non-chiropractic patients, 71 percent of DCs admit that at least half of their patients are overweight. Nineteen percent admit that at least half of their patients are obese.
When asked how often patients' excess weight exacerbates their chiropractic-related ailments, 72 percent of DCs said "often," and another 24 percent answered, "sometimes." More than three-quarters of the profession believe that excess weight can worsen:
- Chronic back pain
- Degenerative disc disease
- Degenerative joint disease
- Lower extremity chronic pain and dysfunction
- Facet syndrome
- Herniated discs
But with all that said, only 45 percent of DCs focus on weight loss for their patients in need, according to survey results. Removing subluxations is the key component of chiropractic care. This is and should be job #1. But there are obviously other factors that are preventing our patients from achieving optimal wellness.
The current scientific literature is filled with studies ascribing most of the chronic diseases plaguing Western consumers to a lack of health and fitness. Cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular ailments, etc., are all related to this lack of wellness. Lack of exercise, pro-inflammatory diets and excessive weight are slowly killing the majority of people in the United States – and no combination of drugs will change that. The best these drugs can do is manage this essentially "chronic suicide" behavior while adding side effects to the list of ailments.
To help our patients obtain wellness, we need to consider the whole being. If a patient's lifestyle is working against their chiropractic care, that lifestyle will likely overrule both your efforts and their health. To gain the wellness we are looking for, we need to remove the subluxations and the other interferences to our patients' health:
- We need to have discussions that lead to the removal of the pro-inflammatory foods that reduce the body's ability to heal itself.
- Proper nutrition must be part of every conversation about health. It is so basic, yet so often overlooked in clinical practice.
- We need to help patients shed the weight that is exacerbating the very musculoskeletal complaints that are so painful. (The body is trying to tell them something and they are just not listening.)
- There needs to be an honest conversation about fitness and muscle tone, regardless of how embarrassing it may be. Lack of exercise interferes with the natural processes that are dependent on activity and elevated heart rates.
- Finally, the chiropractic profession needs to embrace wellness as a lifestyle for the whole person. Many DCs already do this, but it should be part of our reputation.
If you ask non-chiropractic-patients / consumers about chiropractic, most will tell you that it might be good for back pain; some might even add neck pain and headaches. Not a bad beginning given the prevalence of these complaints, but this sounds more like a description for a musculoskeletal specialist. Our philosophy alone puts chiropractic in a position to offer much more to improve overall health. The good news for our patients is that we can help them achieve wellness without turning their bodies into toxic wastelands.
The health care system is looking for answers. The research is pointing to a lifestyle most akin to chiropractic wellness. Chiropractic is about removing the interferences to health and wellness – all interferences.
- If you would like to participate in these surveys, visit www.dynamicchiropractic.com/practiceinsights/givingback.php.
- Petersen D. "Chiropractic and Weight Loss." Dynamic Chiropractic PracticeINSIGHTS, November 2011.
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.