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Chiropractic Research Review

Significant Role of Chiropractic Recognized

Chiropractic is recognized as an important component of the U.S. health care system and is the largest alternative medicine profession. This historical and analytical overview states that it is problematic even to call chiropractic "alternative," because in many ways it is "distinctly mainstream."

Chiropractic is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

One-third of all patients with low back pain are treated by chiropractors. Tens of millions of visits are made to doctors of chiropractic and billions of dollars are spent on chiropractic annually. Since 1972, Medicare has reimbursed patients for chiropractic treatments, which are also covered by most insurance companies. And the number of chiropractors is expected to double by 2010, while the increase in the number of traditional physicians is expected to grow by only 16 percent.

This informative and complimentary article examines the origins and development of chiropractic, explaining both the practices and beliefs that unify the profession and the disagreements and controversies that have created dissension. The long and successful struggle for acceptance is recounted, culminating with the legal victory in 1987 that prevented organized medicine from conspiring to prevent physicians from consulting with chiropractors and referring patients to them.

With great insight, this article identifies what makes chiropractic different and so appealing to its patients. As the authors put it:

Chiropractic finds its voice exactly where biomedicine becomes inarticulate. Too often, biomedicine fails to affirm a patient's chronic pain. Patients think their experience is brushed aside by a physician who treats it as unjustified, unfounded, or annoying, attitudes that heighten a patients anguish and intensify suffering. ... By rooting pain in a clear physical cause, chiropractic validates a patients experience. Even for patients with acute pain, chiropractic's assertiveness, clarity, and precision provide reassurance. Chiropractic's ultimate lesson may be to reinforce the principle that the patient-physician relationship is fundamentally about words and deeds of connection and compassion. Chiropractic has managed to embody this message in the gift of hands.

Kaptchuk TJ, Eisenberg DM. Chiropractic: Origins, controversies, and contributions. Archives of Internal Medicine, Nov. 9, 1998;158(20), pp2215-24.

Chiropractic Research Review

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