I agree completely with Dr. Sokoloff's assessment. The market perception is that the chiropractor is primarily a back specialist and nothing more. This is really too bad, but it is a fact. All anyone has to do is open a telephone book to the yellow pages and look how chiropractors advertise their services. I make a point of doing this in most cities that I visit. Most chiropractic yellow page ads talk about back, neck and shoulder pain, auto injuries, workers' compensation, sports injuries, and disk injuries. Only occasionally do I see a doctor whose ads talk about whole body wellness, nutritional counseling, stress management, etc.
As a chiropractic patient, I think of chiropractic as much more than the treatment of back pain and other musculoskeletal injuries. For me, chiropractic is a natural way to wellness. Chiropractic patient management is comprised of nondrug, nonsurgical, holistic care, which includes adjustive manipulation, mobilization of the spine, physiotherapy, as well as rehabilitative, nutritional, and even psychological counseling.
Until proven otherwise, I believe there is much to be said about B.J. Palmer's unique approach to disease, i.e., that mechanical forces which affect the spine can cause perturbations of the nervous system. The most frequent structural perturbation is the subluxation of a vertebra, a slight deviation in alignment within the normal range of movement that causes nerve irritation. The chiropractor corrects these misalignments by adjusting the spine, thereby improving the patient's total health. I believe that the spinal adjustment is a physiological support mechanism that corrects subluxations and can also relieve a number of nonmusculoskelatal conditions. Adjustments are not just for the treatment of back and neck pain. To portray chiropractic as a profession that only treats musculoskeletal pain risks lumping it in with physical therapy, physiatry, and neurology. It completely ignores chiropractic's uniqueness. Research being supported by FCER is aimed at discovering how the chiropractic spinal adjustment works to promote optimal health.
Palmer also recognized that biochemical and psychic factors are important causes of disease. It is because of this recognition on his part that chiropractors are educated as physicians who can differentially diagnose and promote total wellness in a large variety of nondrug, nonsurgical ways. One of the best descriptions I have read on what a chiropractor is and how chiropractic differs from allopathic medicine is Dr. Arnold Cianciulli's "Chiropractic: A Primary Care Gatekeeper," available from FCER.
The reason people like Dr. Sokoloff and myself are so concerned about how our profession is being left out of the natural health care revolution is because it is not just another passing fad. It is here to stay. If this were not the case, do you think medical schools would be jumping on the bandwagon the way they are today? Trends analysts and futurists such as Gerald Celente and Barry Minkin are all saying that a huge revolution is underway and that it will accelerate in the years ahead.
Based on what these experts see, and what I know about chiropractic, I believe there are several major areas for chiropractors to move into in a big way. These include vitamin and herb counseling, ergonomic/industrial consulting (already underway to some extent), weight management, and life extension. Wouldn't it be ironic if the profession that pioneered prevention and wellness in this country was left out in the cold as other provider groups (holistic MDs, naturopaths, pharmacists, etc.) moved quickly to capture the market.
In closing, I want to announce to our readers that FCER has issued a request for proposal (RFP) titled "In Support of the Chiropractic Subluxation," which we will fund to a limit of $250,000. This project is intended to more definitively identify the chiropractic subluxation. The RFP has been sent to 70 research centers worldwide. For more information, or to receive a copy of the RFP, call FCER at (703) 276-7445, ext. 10 or ext. 23.
Stephen Seater, CAE
Executive Director, FCER
Click here for more information about Stephen R. Seater.