This is a tough one for me. I do believe in alternative and complimentary medicine, but I have some reservations, depending on the type of treatment we’re talking about. These reservations come from years of experience as a healthcare consumer, a parent of children who needed medical care, and as a registered nurse. I do believe that chiropractors have their place but I also believe that they have only one place: treating backs. What I have a problem with is chiropractors claiming they can treat anything from autism to asthma and liver disease to ADD. And now, they’re saying they can prevent H1N1 influenza.
The field was founded in the late 1800s and the first chiropractors faced an uphill battle against the establishment. Many were prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license but the profession thrived and has become ever present in many countries. The premise behind chiropractics is that everything is connected to the alignment of your spine and by ensuring that the spine is aligned correctly, your body will perform at its peak.
Chiropractors are well educated. In the United States and in Canada, they must have at least three years of undergraduate study before they can attend a chiropractic college, where they study in a four-year degree program. After completion of the program, graduates may go on to residencies to specialize in specific areas, much like medical students and doctors do.
Chiropractors do still face a lot of criticism however. Whether it’s from other healthcare professionals who are marking their territory, those who are afraid of the long-term effects of manipulating the spine, or those who are concerned about the use of chiropractic in areas where it may not be appropriate. Studies proving the worth of chiropractic are few and far between. Although chiropractic may help with certain types of back pain, there are strong reservations among the medical community about manipulation of the neck and whether this may increase the risk of a severe complication, such as a stroke.
Claims of treating other illnesses, such as asthma, haven’t been proven, although some people do say that they have been cured. This is where many critics come in. Seriously, there is even a handout going around that claims “getting adjusted” (chiropractic manipulation) twice a week will “Build your immune system! Get adjusted! Studies show that being adjusted twice a week can increase your immune system function by up to 400%.”
Ok, if that’s true, where are the studies that back this up? Four hundred percent??
What do you think? Are skeptics like me just curmudgeons who can’t see past what’s in front of them or do you think that there’s something not-quite-right about the claims made by some chiropractors?