The eight-minute program, "Back Magic," opened with co-host Suzanne Whang intoning:
"It's estimated that 20 million Americans will visit a chiropractor for back or neck pain this year. But what do chiropractors actually do that differs from traditional medicine? And what's the best way to find a chiropractor that will heal your pain? We went to the experts for close look at one of the world's most misunderstood professions."
The program then turned its cameras on the office of Woodland Hills, California chiropractor Dr. Jennifer Sellars as she examined and adjusted one of her patients. The voiceover proclaimed:
"Nowadays, women from all walks of life are finding relief at the hands of chiropractors. And their strongest urging comes from a once unheard of source."
Dr. Sellars explained: "My primary health care provider, my medical doctor, has referred patients to me, and that is the ultimate compliment.
"I don't want to say that we're better than medical doctors," Dr. Sellars added. "It's a different approach. Our approach is not drugs and surgery. Our approach is noninvasive: adjust the spine, remove interference and let the body heal itself."
The voiceover continued as Dr. Sellars adjusted another patient:
"An adjustment is simply applying swift strong pressure to the back or neck to re-align the spine. It can soothe a pinched nerve, a stiff neck, muscle spasms and other chronic pain in the back region.
"Over 30 independent studies done in the last few decades confirm it (chiropractic) works. How or why, no one knows for sure, but when you're in pain, no one seems to care."
One of Dr. Sellars' patients, Robin Rosenberg, was injured in a car accident. "It's actually getting better," Robin said. "There was a time when I couldn't really lift my head. I'd walk around like this," she said, placing the palms of her hands on each side of her neck, "because it felt so heavy, and from looking at the x-rays it was obvious. My neck was out of place, so it couldn't hold up my head."
The next segment of Back Magic opens with the announcer stating: "Chiropractic has become so mainstream that some orthopedic specialists are inviting them to join their practice." The program then introduces viewers to the "renown Texas Back Institute" which "steers most of their patients to the chiropractor first."
Ralph Rashbaum, MD, co-founder and a chief surgeon of the TBI, gave his views on chiropractic: "Chiropractic physicians, to be honest with you, can see anybody that I can see, as an orthopaedic surgeon, with the exception of somebody who is actually losing control of their bowels and bladder: that becomes a surgical emergency. But if somebody came in with a pinched nerve in their neck, causing pain in their arm, a pinched nerve in their back, causing pain in their leg, there's no reason a chiropractic physician can't see that patient first."
Dr. John Triano, MS, DC, PhD, of the TBI was then shown palpating and adjusting his patient, Julie Black, while the voiceover stated: "It used to be that back pain suffers saw a chiropractor as a last resort, but that's changing, too. Julie Black could have saved herself time, money and pain."
Ms. Black was then interviewed. "Someone dropped an eight-by-ten foot wooden platform on top of my head and I've been living with excruciating pain for 12 years. I've seen countless numbers of neurosurgeons, MDs, physical therapists, countless numbers of people and nobody has been able to offer me any type of solution other than giving me prescription."
The treatment received by Julie had a tremendous impact in her quality of life. "Chiropractic care has helped me a great deal. For 12 years, I could not look to the right, and now I can. It has been amazing to wake up in the morning and be able to drive to work and feel good at the start of my day."
Dr. Triano was next shown performing a cervical adjustment on a female patient. The camera zoomed in to show the adjustment as a gentle, painless maneuver.
Drs. Sellars, Rashbaum and Triano were then asked if some chiropractors were to be avoided? Their consensus was:
- a chiropractor who rushes through the exam and doesn't ask questions;
- a doctor who doesn't do their own exams;
- doctors who offer free x-rays or free spinal screenings;
- chiropractors who make outrageous claims.
As the program drew to a conclusion, the voiceover stated: "Find one (a chiropractor) who has your best interests in mind. Once you do, there's probably quick relief in sight. Since most HMOs and insurance plans now cover chiropractic care, ask your doctor for a referral or call your state board of chiropractic examiners."
Chiropractic is finding itself more often that ever the focus of media scrutiny. The Lifetime program was a welcomed relief after the unfavorable conclusions about chiropractic in two studies in the Oct. issue of the New England Journal, of Medicine, and the subsequent painful scenes of a few renegade DCs bilking Medicaid in Gary, Indiana as televised on "20/20" Nov. 6th.
The media will continue to produce segments pointing out the unethical behavior of the few, as it should, but people know that Drs. Sellars and Triano are what chiropractic is about: a potent healing force that more people than ever are experiencing. As Dr. Sellars points out, "There's definitely something about putting your hands on someone that's very powerful and very healing."