The War Against Chiropractors: Are they even Doctors?

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The common causes of wars occur when there is a conflict of interest between states, blood, or ideologies. In the medical profession, doctors, scientists, and experts have prosecuted several battles such as the war against polio, cancer, obesity, and heart diseases. However, there is a long-standing controversial conflict in the medical field that some health care professionals have been questioning ever since — the war against chiropractic.

Chiropractic is a healthcare profession which concentrates on nerves, joints, spines, and muscles. The term “chiropractic” means “treatment by hand” which indicates that this practice focuses on manual manipulation of the spine and its relation to the nervous system. Daniel David Palmer developed chiropractic care practice in 1895. His first patient was Harvey Lillard whose one ear was deaf. Palmer learned that Lillard suffered from a head trauma before, so he examined his spine and found a misaligned vertebra in his upper back.

Chiropractors are the primarily trained expert responsible for the treatment of the spine-related disorders, as well as joint dysfunctions. They apply a substantial amount of pressure to the misaligned spine or affected joint to restore posture and its proper functions.

Chiropractic care benefits patients who suffer low back pain. According to the National Institute of Health, 8 out of 10 people complain about back discomfort. Spinal manipulation is one alternative in administering lower back pain, together with exercise and physical therapy. Another well-known problem that chiropractors attend to is neck injury caused by stress, trauma, and injuries. The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics published a study in 2007 that showed that patients who suffer from neck pain have improved after adjustments in the spine for at least a month.

However, a review from the journal Spine showed that 33-60% of patients experienced various complications such as temporary headaches, vertigo, nausea, increase pain, and loss of awareness due to the critical method of spinal manipulation. There are several cases recorded where the patients suffered from fatal conditions like stroke after the chiropractic treatment. Lana Dale Lewis suffered from a stroke in 1996 after two weeks of undergoing a cervical spine manipulation. She complained about the manner of adjustment, and she experienced intense pain after the procedure.

In Jakarta, a 32-year-old woman died after undergoing spine adjustment because an artery in her upper spine snapped due to over-stretching. There is no direct relationship between neck manipulation and fatal stroke yet, but chiropractors should inform their patients before the procedure about the potential risk. Another case of the treatment is pediatric chiropractic which involves infants. Physicians have slammed several chiropractic practitioners for aligning and cracking the spine of newborns. Dr. Frank Jones believed that the spine manipulation is cruel and could affect soft tissues, ligaments, and even muscles of the children.

With these controversies and concerns about death and maltreatment, are chiropractors doctors? Technically speaking, they are not medical doctors. However, chiropractors have extensive pieces of training and certification to practice, but they do not possess a medical degree, unlike physicians. They attend an undergraduate degree related to sciences and serve another four years of educationwith a total of 4,200 hours in both training and classes.

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