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Chiropractic Myths

There are several myths that need dispelled about chiropractic.  Some of those common myths are listed below.


Myth #1: Chiropractors are Not "Real Doctors":

In the U.S., there are several professionals that hold the title "doctor", and that term is not merely reserved to those who are Doctors of Medicine (MD's).  Other professionals that hold the title doctor include Doctor's of Osteopathy (DO), Doctor's of Naturopathy (ND), and Doctor's of Chiropractic (DC).  No profession "owns" the term doctor.  The word "doctor" actually means teacher, chiropractic physicians have always known the importance of educating their patients on proper health and maintenance.  An educated patient is a healthier patient!

Chiropractors also attend college the same amount of time as medical doctors, and are required to take most of the same courses.  Both professions are licensed in all 50 states as well.  The Federal Medicare program defines chiropractors as physicians, and they are trained as such.  With all this being said there is nothing 'fake' about be a Doctor of Chiropractic; chiropractors are real doctors!

Myth #2: Chiropractic care is not effective:

Actually, chiropractic care has been shown in peer-reviewed research to be as effective as, if not more than other types of treatment for back pain, neck pain, and headaches.  Research additionally shows that chiropractic care gets patients better faster, and for less money.

Myth #3: Chiropractic care is dangerous:

Once again, a myth is just that...a myth!  Chiropractic care actually has been shown to be up to 1000 times safer than Tylenol or Ibuprofen (or any NSAID), and up to 10,000 times safer than spinal surgery.  Research has shown that as long as chiropractic treatment is delivered by chiropractors, the treatment is both safe and effective.  Untrained health care professionals should not attempt to perform chiropractic treatment, as it is an expert activity that takes years of training.

More proof that points to chiropractic's safety is the cost of a chiropractor's malpractice insurance.  The amount a health care provider pays for malpractice insurance is determined by the number of claims filed in that profession.  The more claims filed due to injury or other adverse effects, the more expensive the malpractice insurance.  On average, chiropractic physicians pay malpractice premiums that are 1/10th or less than that of a medical doctor's premiums.  If chiropractors were hurting people, malpractice insurance companies would be among the first to know.  However, when the truth comes out, chiropractic care is actually one of the safest health care methods that anyone could ever receive.  Plain and simple, injury by a chiropractor is a rarity.

Myth #4: Once you start chiropractic care, you always have to go...

This one comes up often, and it has really been taken out of context.  When someone starts going to a chiropractor, they often have a painful condition or problem that they want help in treating. Considering that information, a chiropractic physician will prescribe a course of treatment that is best for treating your problem.

Chiropractic care is just like going to physical therapy, and the treatment of a patient's problem can take several weeks to even months in some instances, depending on how severe the problem is, and how long it has been going on.  Just like going to physical therapy, once a patient's problem is resolved, they will be released from active treatment, and will be given a home exercise program that will need to be performed on a regular basis.  Patient's who take an active role in their health and do their exercises often find that they do not need as much care, and may not even feel the need to come back at all!

Once released from active care, some patients find that if they receive periodic chiropractic treatments, they feel better and experience less problems.  This type of care is called maintenance care, and it is always the patient's decision to receive this type of care.

Some uninformed individuals confuse elective maintenance care with 'having to go back' all of the time.  Although chiropractic care is preventative, it is never mandatory.  Just like going to the dentist, if you go periodically, you will suffer from less tooth decay.  Going to the chiropractor periodically helps to prevent spinal decay (arthritis, disc degeneration, etc.)  Arthritis does not have to happen with aging.  Patients who elect to receive maintenance care have decided that they don't want to slow down when they get older, and they are doing something to prevent it.

Myth #5: Chiropractors treat only back problems.

Chiropractors receive a thorough training in the entire human body, not just the spine.  In addition to neck and back problems, chiropractors also treat hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and jaw problems.  Some chiropractors, such as Dr. Johnson, also work with other conditions such as infertility, insomnia, chronic infections, anxiety, and digestive issues.  Although research has stated that "chiropractors dedicate more formal study to the spine than any other profession", chiropractors definitely work with more than just back problems.

Myth #6: Chiropractors are "anti-medicine"

Doctors of Chiropractic place strong emphasis on disease prevention and health promotion.  While, there are many problems that do not justify immediately medicating or receiving surgery, there are others that medication or surgery may be the best solution (e.g. appendicitis, life-threatening situations, etc.)  Chiropractors have a conservative understanding of health care, where the least invasive and safest health care approach should always be used first.  If those measures are not effective, then medication and surgery my be of value.  Chiropractors routinely work with patient's Medical Doctors in order to ensure that their care is integrated and complete.

Myth #7:  Chiropractic neck adjustments can cause a stroke

This myth has been especially brought up on the East Coast with smear campaigns being falsely peddled.  The general consensus from a thorough investigation of the peer-reviewed research is that chiropractic adjustments do not cause stroke.  Studies on animals as well as human cadavers have shown that the amount of force required to cause blood vessel injury in the neck is far beyond what a chiropractic physician provides during an adjustment.

The most thorough and respected research on this topic to date was published in the prestigious research journal SPINE.  This research was headed up by Dr. David Cassidy, DC, PhD.  The research concluded that the risk of having a stroke when seeing a chiropractor is no greater than the risk of having one when going to your Medical Doctor.  What actually happens is that a patient goes to either their PCP or chiropractor complaining of having a "migraine headache with neck pain" when in all actuality they are walking through the door with a stroke ensuing.  The stroke is thought to just be a headache and the Medical Doctor prescribes a medicine and sends the patient on their way and the patient has a stroke either in their office or on the way home.  The chiropractor treats the patient's neck with a chiropractic adjustment and the same thing happens as with the M.D.  The likelihood of this phenomena occurring is estimated to be from 1 : 1,000,000 to 1:5,000,000. That may sound like too frequent of an occurrence for some worried individuals but consider the fact that the risk of being killed in a car wreck is 1: 5,000, and the odds of being killed by being struck by lightning is 1 in 2,000,000!

The important thing to note is that neither provider is causing the stroke.  The patient is walking through the door with one being unrecognized.  That is why it is all the more important for a patient to be open to the suggestion from their doctor that they are indeed having a stroke.  Many patients will not want to believe that they are having one, and will become combative when a chiropractor or an MD tries to have them taken to the hospital with EMS.  It is also equally important for a chiropractor or an MD to be well versed in the signs and symptoms of a stroke so that the problem is recognized swiftly.

Putting Neck Pain Treatment Risks into Perspective

Myth #8:  You have to believe in chiropractic for it to work

Even today in the 21st century there are still some people that claim that they "don't  believe in chiropractic".  Lucky for them, chiropractic is not a belief system!  Just like all universal truths and laws of physics, chiropractic works whether you believe in it or not. Every aspect of chiropractic practice is based around the best evidence to date.  Much of what chiropractors do has been proven by research...and not just chiropractic research!  Much of the research done has been performed by medical researchers!  It is funny to think that someone can choose to not believe in something that has been proven.  In many ways, that would be the same as if someone still thought that the Earth was flat!

Also consider, just because someone doesn't believe in gravity doesn't mean that it won't still affect them when they jump!  All kidding aside, Chiropractic care is based on the fact that joints that are put in motion tend to stay in motion, rather than break down and become arthritic.  It is also well known that inflamed joints can irritate nerves nearby and cause then to "fire" or "behave" in correctly.  Chiropractic corrects this problem as well.

While your chiropractor certainly appreciates your confidence, it is not a requirement for chiropractic treatment to be "believed in".  Chiropractic research and the thousands of satisfied chiropractic patients have the final word on this issue - Chiropractic Works!