By Marge Roberts, MSHP BSN DAHom
Although I’m not a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) and never studied to be one, I utilize chiropractic to maintain and promote my health. I love the fact that chiropractors don’t prescribe drugs but address illness by natural means. Life University, the largest chiropractic college in the world and located in Marietta, Georgia, describes chiropractic as a “philosophy of health, a science of the nervous system and spine, and an art of helping people regain their heath naturally”.
The original concept of chiropractic, introduced by Dr. D.D. Palmer in 1886, included the recognition of vital force. This concept of vital force was integral to his philosophy. This concept is shared by other “natural” approaches to healthcare such as acupuncture and homeopathy and to some extent massage, flower essences, therapeutic touch and other natural therapies. Over time, many Chiropractors have come to emphasize more the impact of chiropractic adjustments on the nervous system than on the releasing or unblocking of the vital force. I personally believe that it is not an either/or, but that the chiropractic adjustment addresses both the nervous system and the vital source.
This week I attended a conference presented by the Georgia Chiropractic Association. While visiting with DC’s and attending some of the educational offerings, I was reminded of the fact that there is much confusion and misinformation concerning chiropractic care.
Several months ago, I was astonished when I suggested that a customer consider chiropractic care for her health condition. It’s hard to believe, but this so-called educated individual thought that chiropractors were uneducated and only received a few weeks of training. On the contrary, the education of doctors of chiropractic is strikingly similar to that of medical doctors. Applicants for chiropractic college must complete at least three years of college-level courses before admission to a chiropractic college. The chiropractic degree then requires another four or five years focusing on the sciences and chiropractic techniques. For example, the total number of contact hours for a chiropractic student averages 4826 hours and for a medical student the average is 4667 hours. College basic science education for DC’s average 1420 hours and for MD’s 1200 hours. Clinical science hours for DC’s average 3406 hours, whereas MD’s average 3467 hours. Doctors of Chiropractic receive more education in anatomy and physiology while medical doctors receive more education in public health.
In spite of their extensive education and commitment to natural approaches to health, DC’s are often not appreciated for their unique contribution to the healthcare system. There is much inequality legislated into reimbursement, insurance coverage and financing in comparison to the medical model. For example, the same loan forgiveness programs available to MD’s is not available to erase the immense debt incurred by the chiropractor. After a medical doctor works for 10 years at a not-for-profit hospital, the government may pay his or her entire remaining student loan. However, chiropractors have a very limited number of not-for-profit jobs available to them, so very few chiropractors qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Chiropractors are often restricted to the number of treatments that are covered by insurance. Nationally, chiropractors are lobbying for the right to have insurance coverage when they follow their sports team patients out-of-state. In Georgia, Chiropractors are working to ensure that the co-pays for chiropractors would not exceed those of primary care physicians. They must continually work to gain equality with providers of the drug/surgery medical model.
According to a Journal of the American Medical Association article, there are 12,000 deaths per year from unnecessary surgery, 80,000 deaths per year from hospital-acquired infections and 106,000 deaths per year from non-error, adverse effects of medications. Maybe it’s a good idea to investigate healthcare offered by a provider who delivers healthcare by natural means. As a nurse, I would always promote the least toxic approach and only if necessary work on up the chain to the more dangerous approaches. Start with diet, exercise and lifestyle changes and only succumb to toxic drugs and surgery if necessary. I would not want to be without mainstream medicine when I need it, but feel I should have equal access to natural healthcare modalities of my choosing.
If you aren’t familiar with chiropractic care – Check it out!