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Dynamic Chiropractic – March 10, 1997, Vol. 15, Issue 06

Have You Ever Wondered Why?

By Chester Wilk, DC
Have you ever wondered why chiropractic health care has had such a low public profile and less than 100 percent public support, despite the tremendous advantages it offers patients? Let's examine some facts. Chiropractic has been found to be therapeutically effective, has good patient satisfaction, and is safe and cost effective.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 et al. Chiropractic enjoys good science behind what it does, and our schools and facilities are outstanding. With all of this going for us one would think we would have to hire MDs to become CAs to handle our heavy traffic. What is wrong? Well, I have a theory which I'd like to share with you.

The most obvious reason is the decades of trashing that political medicine has made against chiropractic; the residual effects are still being felt. But there is another aspect of which I believe has been the reason why this profession has allowed itself to be so unfairly abused all of these years, and why the aggressors have been encouraged to be all the more hostile.

Every professional group hires experts to advise. Chiropractors, and many other professionals, rely heavily on lawyers to handle legal matters. When it comes to legislative matters, professions hire legislative strategists (lobbyists). Professions also hire people to handle public relations. Because of the expertise of lawyers, lobbyists, and PR people, it is only natural to rely on their advice.

I remember speaking to one of these experts hired by the chiropractic profession who indicated he got a lot of negative flack from his colleagues for working for the chiropractic cause.

Years ago we had a hard time getting MDs to speak at any chiropractic function. They were afraid of "marring their reputation and good name."

Many qualified PhDs in the sciences were discouraged from teaching in chiropractic colleges. They were concerned about a stigma on their academic reputation; they feared never being able to teach in any "reputable" institution again if they listed a chiropractic college in their portfolio.

All of these factors meant that not only our schools and postgraduate work suffered, but also our ability to get high quality experts who believed in our services to represent us. I can recall the hard time we had getting a qualified antitrust lawyer to take our case. Had it not been for the brilliant legal mind of George McAndrews and his strong belief in chiropractic, we might have had to abandon the idea of a lawsuit. We were just fortunate that his love and respect for this profession gave him the incentive to accept us as clients.

Eventually things began to change for the better. We began to see a surplus of highly qualified PhDs in the health care field, which translated into more PhDs working in chiropractic colleges. About that time, the anti-trust lawsuit began to have an impact. We began seeing a major migration of top quality professors getting jobs in chiropractic colleges.

We then had the good fortune to acquire Mark Goodin, an advisor to past presidents and vice presidents of the United States, as a legislative strategist. He is the best, and I might add that he thinks you are the best. This does matter. You might say he is to legislation what George is to law. Most important of all, their confidence, belief, and respect for chiropractic is priceless.

We can ask ourselves that if we have so many wonderful accomplishments on which to hang our hats, and such outstanding experts, why doesn't this profession really take off? Personally, I think it is on the verge of happening, because the facts have become so overwhelmingly obvious that I cannot believe that a properly informed society can ignore these facts much longer. But we need to make it happen by becoming more media-oriented, a subject I have harped on for years.

There is another important factor. Anyone studying the history of chiropractic will have to agree that if it were not for our national leadership, this profession would have been destroyed years ago. It would not exist today. To deny this fact is to deny the obvious facts of life. And it hasn't stopped with our leadership preserving this profession which we all love so dearly.

If you have read the chiropractic press, you know the outstanding efforts of our national leadership.

If there wasn't a profession of chiropractic today, where and what would you be doing? And if you have a palatial home, a beautiful clinic, are able to send your children to college, and enjoy many of the finer things in life, what do you owe this profession and its leadership? Do you support your national organization with your membership so it can support you? I hope so.

It is well-established which national organization I support, and it is not based on any partisan politics, but rather on simple logic and common sense. But I won't get into that because it is more important that you support at least one national organization. When I hear statistics like there being less than 25 percent of our profession supporting any of our national leadership, it is enough to make any grown man or woman cry with shame, especially when this profession has been so good to everyone it touches. I don't know how anyone can look in the mirror in the morning and enjoy great success and not support the reason for it.

And so in response to why we are not growing as rapidly as we should in spite of our fact situation and outstanding expert guidance, it should be obvious. We need to get 100 percent behind our national leaders. When you realize what we have been able to accomplish with less than 25 percent support of our profession, just imagine what we can accomplish with 100 percent! Talk to your colleagues and let's get all of them involved. They owe so much to chiropractic that its the very least we can do for this profession and the people we serve. Let's get every chiropractor in America behind our national leadership. They deserve it.


  1. Bigos S, Bowyer O, Braen G, et al. Acute Low Back Problems in Adults. Clinical Practice Guideline No. 14. AHCPR Publication No. 95-0642. Rockville, MD: Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Public Health Service, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Dec. 1994.
  2. Carey CS, et al. Acute severe low back pain. Spine, 21:339-344, 1996.
  3. Coulter ID, Hurwitz EL, Adams AH, et al. The Appropriateness of Manipulation and Mobilization of the Cervical Spine. RAND, 1996.ISBN 0-8330-2420-5.
  4. Dabbs V, Lauretti, W. A risk assessment of cervical manipulation vs. NSAIDs for the treatment of neck pain. JMPT, 18(1):534, Oct. 1995.
  5. Manga P, et al. The Effective and Cost Effectiveness of Chiropractic Management of Low Back Pain. University of Ottawa, Canada, 1993.
  6. Meade TW, Dyer S, et al. Low back pain of mechanical origin: randomised comparison of chiropractic and hospital outpatient treatment. British Med. Journal, 300(6737):1431-1437, 1990.
  7. Shekelle P, Adams P. The Appropriateness of Spinal Manipulation for Low Back Pain, RAND, Santa Monica, CA, 1992.
  8. Shekelle PG. The Use and Cost of Chiropractic Care on the Health Insurance Experiment. MR-401 CCR/AHCPR, RAND, 1994.

Chester Wilk, DC
Chicago, Illinois

Click here for previous articles by Chester Wilk, DC.

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