Chiropractic Myths 2

Author: Craig Coghlin, B.A., CPT, CSCS, ART Provider, D.C. (candidate)
"Chiropractors lack education in comparison to Medical doctors."
Not at all. Despite what some people think, chiropractic is not a weekend seminar or certification program. Maybe 100 years ago someone could become a Doctor of Chiropractic in a few months, but now, and within any chiropractor’s lifetime who is currently practicing, this is not the case. As with medical school, to enter in to Chiropractic College, one requires a minimum of three years of an undergraduate degree. In fact, at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC), where I am studying, over 90% of the students have completed their full honours degree, masters, PhD, or other doctorate program. CMCC is one of only two chiropractic colleges in all of Canada, the other one being a French speaking school at l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. Thus the competition for acceptance to the program is fierce.

After being accepted to CMCC, students undergo a rigorous four years of training, just as medical students. In fact, CMCC students have more class contact hours than medical students (4513 hours). CMCC students receive courses in anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, neurology, embryology, radiology, immunology, microbiology, pathology, laboratory medicine, as well as many other specifically chiropractic courses. At CMCC there are three years of direct class time and a fourth year of clinical internship. Being a third year student at the college, I can attest to anyone that the education I receive is nothing short of thorough and comprehensive.

"Chiropractic care is expensive."
Many government agencies have evaluated the cost effectiveness of chiropractic care. One of the most thorough analyses conducted was the Manga Report authored by Pran Manga, Director of the Master in Health administration program at the University of Ottawa. This report concluded that spinal manipulation by a chiropractor is more effective than other treatments for low back pain. It was also noted that if the management of back pain was undertaken more by chiropractors versus other physicians, there would be a significant costs savings to Canada’s health care system1.

Chiropractic care might be perceived to be expensive because in Ontario the provincial government recently withdrew OHIP reimbursement. Thus, the patient is now forced to pay out of pocket or through an insurance company versus a medical visit which is fully covered by OHIP. In fact, medical doctors in 2002/2003 billed health care in Ontario for more than 5.3 billion dollars, and this was before our care was removed from funding. And that figure was simply for a regular diagnostic visit! With chiropractic care out of provincial funding, more and more patients may be forced to go to the general practitioner for something a chiropractor could treat, thus costing the health care system more and more money.

Also, the New Zealand Guidelines2 list chiropractic treatment as an appropriate treatment for pain relief and improvement in mobility with acute low back pain. The Royal College of General Pracititioners3 in the UK stated that manipulation can provide short term improvement of pain and activity levels, and maintains a very high level of patient satisfaction.

1Manga P, Angus D, Papadopoulos C, and Swan W. The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of chiropractic management of low-back pain. Ontario Ministry of Health. 1993.

2New Zealand Acute Low Back Pain Guide. New Zealand Guidelines Group. 1997.

3Waddel G, McIntosh A, Hutchinson A, Feder G, and Lewis M. Low back pain evidence review Londo

n. Royal College of General Practitioners. 1999.

"Once you go to a Chiropractor, you have to go for the rest of your life!"
False. As an intelligent future clinician, and an astute business man, I like to tell people that I would much rather treat one patient a couple of times, get him or her better, and have them refer a couple friends for expansion of my patient base versus treating one person for the rest of their life. That is not to say that no person should ever have to see a chiropractor more then a couple of times in their life. That is no different than saying it is necessary to visit a dentist more than once in your lifetime to maintain your dental health.

Some patients have chronic, lifetime conditions that no treatment (medical or otherwise) can completely eradicate, and thus a chiropractor can assume the role of pain controller through multiple visits per year as deemed necessary.

The human body undergoes daily stresses through normal physical activities like gardening, playing with your children, shoveling snow, workplace duties, and carrying groceries. Therefore it is not unlikely that our bodies will suffer minor musculoskeletal injuries throughout our life. Your chiropractor is there to help you with these problems, and also to help prevent these daily stresses from accumulating into something more severe.

"A Chiropractor is only able to treat low back pain."
Completely untrue. Chiropractors are trained in the assessment and treatment of every joint in the body, as well as associated tissues (muscles, ligaments, etc.) and pain control for many other conditions. In fact in a study by Wiberg it was discovered that chiropractic care resulted in the reduction of colic episodes (unexplained, uncontrollable crying at 0-3 months of age) in children by 67% versus the application of dimethicone (medical treatment option) decreasing episodes by only 38% after 12 days.

In a recent edition of The Chiropractic Report, David Chapman-Smith reviewed the results of many studies on the non-musculoskeletal effects of spinal manipulation5. Browning reviewed ten cases where spinal manipulation had positive effects on gynecological and bowel functioning6. Also, there were 18 reported cases where visual field losses were restored or improved7. In 1991 Lewit reported that after giving upper cervical adjustments to children, relief was noted in chronic recurring tonsillitis8. About 23% of visits to a chiropractor in which the main complaint was musculoskeletal, the patient experienced non-musculoskeletal improvements.

4Wiberg JMM et al. The short-term effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of infantile colic. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Oct. 1999. Vol. 22 (8).

5The Chiropractic Report. Ed. David Chapman-Smith. Sept. 2005. Vol. 19 (5).

6Browning JE. Chiropractic distractive decompression in the treatment of pelvic pain and organic dysfunction in patients with evidence of lower sacral nerve root compression. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 1988. 11:436-42.

7Gorman RF. Monocular visual loss after closed head trauma: Immediate resolution associated with spinal manipulation. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 1995. 18:308-14.

8Lewit K. Manipulative Therapy and Rehabilitation of the Locomotor System. 2nd Ed. Oxford, England: Butterworth-Heineman, 273. 1991.

Written by

Craig Coghlin, B.A., CPT, CSCS, ART Provider, D.C. (candidate)
Empowerment Strength and Conditioning