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Dynamic Chiropractic – May 20, 2008, Vol. 26, Issue 11

Making Waves in the Media

"U.S. News," "Forbes" and "The Wall Street Journal" Are Talking About Chiropractic

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher

What we read in the media is a reflection of the opinions held in our society. Good or bad, these reported events and editorial comments shape the thinking of millions of readers every day.

In the past few months, articles discussing chiropractic have appeared in three of the more respected (and read) print publications. All three take a different look at our profession.

U.S. News & World Report

As it does every year, U.S. News published its Best Carriers for 2008.1 Along with that report was a list of "The Most Overrated Careers."2 Chiropractors were included on that list, as were (medical) physicians. Here is what the article told its readers about the prospects of becoming a doctor of chiropractic:

"The Appeal: You can treat disease, even if you don't have the grades for a top medical school, and you can also set up shop as a solo operator. It's especially alluring to people with misgivings about mainstream medicine.

"The Reality: Some chiropractors think their discipline can cure everything from headaches to sciatica, asthma to premenstrual syndrome. But efficacy is often less than many practitioners claim, even in curing chiropractic's meat and potatoes: lower back pain. And even so, research shows that mainstream treatments for lower back pain are equally effective. Many chiropractors also devote considerable time to marketing, in part to pay back the cost of chiropractic school - usually over $100,000."


An article titled "Back Pain: What Works"3 gives executives a clear understanding of their choices. In addition to encouraging readers to stay active, the author states that "low-tech remedies work."

"Besides exercise, he [Roger Chou, the director of clinical guidelines for the American Pain Society] found three low-tech regimens with strong statistical evidence for their use: spinal manipulation from a chiropractor or osteopath (why this works isn't clear); interdisciplinary rehabilitation programs that combine supervised exercise and counseling; and cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps you develop coping skills and prevents panic about the pain. In patient trials, all these approaches reduced back pain by moderate amounts, Chou says. The drugs with the best data behind them for back pain include anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and naproxen and muscle relaxants like Flexeril to treat acute pain."

The Wall Street Journal

An editorial4 titled "Health Savings Sabotage" made reference to chiropractic in discussing proposed legislation on health savings accounts (HSAs). The reference was not a positive one:

"This (health savings account) is health insurance many Americans can afford, and it doesn't force those who have better use for their scarce dollars to buy gold-plated insurance with special-interest mandates (cover the chiropractors!) that Democrats want to force on everyone. HSAs also give consumers more reason to care about prices, bringing much-needed market discipline."

Here's what a reader of all three publications may be thinking: Chiropractic is an overrated career, but it still works to relieve back pain, even if Americans can't afford it. Again, chiropractic is painted into the "works for back pain, but too expensive for maintenance care" corner.

There clearly is a reason why we must continue to tell our own story - if we let others tell it for us, health care practitioners, insurance organizations, legislators and the public will continue to get an incomplete and/or convoluted perspective of the chiropractic profession. The good news is that we have a solid starting place to tell that story: Chiropractic works for back pain. The next step is to teach people how regular chiropractic care impacts their overall health.


  1. best-careers-2008.html.
  2. 12/19/the-most-overrated-careers.html.
  4. ?mod=opinion_main_review_and_outlooks.

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