In my training, I’ve been witness to surgeons cutting open patients to perform surgeries that are complex and powerful. The risks of such procedures usually cannot be tangibly measured when it’s a case of necessity. As in the case of urgent open heart surgery or when a patient loses the ability to control their bladder, or when a raging tumor is about to take your life. The risk of surgery during these cases certainly outweighs the risk of death. Chiropractic adjustments and chiropractic care offer a completely different perspective and approach. It’s why I am so proud of what I get to do daily. I do love the thought of having “emergency medicine” men and women available should my life depend on it. What’s unfortunate, is when a patient puts their full faith into these doctors and follows their advice about topics that they simply are not educated in. In my case… personal fitness, nutrition and chiropractic care.
A Chiropractic adjustment completely strays from the approach that modern medical care takes place with scalpels and powerful drugs. In fact, I would never tell someone that they shouldn’t see an orthopedic doctor or take a prescription drug because I’m not the expert when it comes to those particular interventions. Yes, I make sure that you understand the risks associated with these procedures, but I won’t say don’t do it. Rather, I promote the services of these doctors and ask patients to seek knowledge to learn about and empower themselves on whether these services are beneficial to them or not.
I do so, because I can confidently say that what I do is completely different from what these medical professionals do. The problem is when a medical professional takes it into their own hands to assume they know what I know; and they don’t.
Your Medical Doctor Does Not Know What I Know
Those people with limited understanding of the science surrounding Chiropractic, including the biomechanics, spinal disc fluid dynamics, structure and neurological functions of the spine know little about the nervous system beyond witnessing a Chiropractor apply pressure to the back. That scenario often leads to misunderstanding or lack of understanding and creates questions of validity regarding how chiropractic adjustments on the spine can impact all parts of the body. Once again, these health professionals have not had the 8 years of intense training as well as hundreds of hours of post-graduate work on taking care of the spine without using a scalpel or prescribing medications. And I don’t expect your doctor to know what I know. If they did, they would be doing what I do. But here’s where it gets tricky. When these doctors tell you that you should not be getting chiropractic care because there’s no validity or research or outcome measures to show benefits, they are flat out wrong and showing their lack of education and competence. I get embarrassed for them really.
The modern Chiropractor believes in the call to not only offer the best health care available, but to also create an environment of education that empowers patients to understand and take ownership of their family’s health. My goal is to teach my patients as much as I can about health and healing.
Understanding the importance of a healthy spine begins the empowerment process. The purpose of the spine extends far beyond providing a strong tube-like pipe encasing a delicate spinal cord. The spine supplies a significant amount of the vital nutrition (nerve signals) to the brain through electrical feedback and movement. The better the movement, the better the brain and nervous system function. Every organ in the body connects to the nervous system. When the nervous system functions better, all aspects of health and human performance improve. A massive influx of research over the past 15 years proves the immeasurable value in living with a healthy spine. (1, 2,3,4)
Every week, I am reminded of how silly medicine can be. It still blows my mind when a patient tells me that their “doctor said they should not see a chiropractor” because there’s “no evidence” for it beyond neck and back pain. It is seriously annoying and downright foolish when there is plenty of data to show otherwise. Again, all this does is demonstrate the incompetence of such professionals or lack of interest in their patients health for not reading their medical journals and relaying the proper information.
Continually updated peer reviewed, scientific research articles in these doctors medical journals explain that the benefits of a Chiropractic adjustment and improved posture go well beyond pain relief. Here are just a few:
- Improved Blood Pressure after Chiropractic Adjustment (5,6)
The atlas is the fist bone that makes up your spine. This particular study demonstrated that precise chiropractic spinal adjustments delivered in to people with high blood pressure were able to produce important reductions in both systolic (17 mm HG) and diastolic (10 mm Hg) blood pressure that was sustainable over a 8 week period with “no adverse effects.” It also demonstrated that very small displacements of the atlas can adversely affect blood pressure. Chiropractic should not be limited only to those with aches and pains. The patients in this study did not have aches and pains, but they suffered from hypertension. This study further supports that chiropractic benefits systemic health and wellbeing.
- Improved Immune Function and Reduced Allergies with improved spinal health (7)
In this particular study, scientists investigated the relationship between allergic diseases and thoracic vertebral misalignments. The thoracic vetebrae are those bones that make up your mid back. This study observed that the allergic diseases atopic dermatitis and bronchial asthma, hay fever, nasal allergic inflammation/discharge, etc., in 3,013 patients had a high ratio of “chronic vertebral misalignments.”
- Improved Hormone Balance following Spinal Adjustment (8)
This paper covers dozens of other peer reviewed papers that discuss the effects of spinal manipulation (aka Chiropractic Adjustments) and how they influence the Spinal Cord, Brain, Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (Think Hormones) as well as blood vessels, heart and other physiological reflexes. It lays out the specific pathways that have been identified to be influenced by chiropractic adjustments. This paper also gives rise to the hundreds of other reasons why you should get adjusted for health, rather than simply pain.
See the image below:
- Poorer Health Outcomes in Measured Categories as Posture Deviation Increased (9,10)
In this study, patients with various health conditions and health status outcomes were observed and compared to good and bad posture. It’s IMPORTANT to note that the analysis in this study was a measurement for forward head posture on an upright full-spine lateral x-ray; not simply looking at your posture. Statistical correlation between xray analysis and health status measures were then performed and the potentially confounding variables were assessed. What did they find out? Forward head posture in the group studied ranged from 1 to 271 mm [about 11 inches]. All measures of health status showed significantly poorer scores as forward head posture line deviation increased. [WOW!] Chiropractic improves posture by way of specific spine corrective adjustments and corrective exercises. Posture is proven to be connected with health care status. Can your doctor still argue that chiropractic is not necessary?
- Chiropractic pediatric care is safe (much safer than antibiotics) (12, 13, 14, 15, 16)
- A 2011 review by Matthew Doyle found a rate of .53 percent to 1 percent mild adverse events for pediatric chiropractic manipulative therapy.
- A 2009 survey study by Alcantara et al. surveyed both chiropractors and parents of pediatric patients in a practice-based chiropractic research network. Chiropractor responders indicated three adverse events per 5,438 office visits from the treatment of 577 children. The parent responders indicated two adverse events from 1,735 office visits involving the care of 239 children.
- A 2007 analysis by Vohra et al., involving two randomized trials and 11 observational reports, found nine serious adverse events and five mild to moderate adverse events, as well as 20 cases of delayed diagnosis for other conditions.
The Vohra study looked at all the peer-reviewed literature over 110 years and involved not just chiropractic practitioners, but anyone doing spinal manipulation on children. They only found nine serious adverse events in 110 years. Compare that to the risk of something as common as antibiotics. One of the most common reasons parents bring their children to the chiropractor is for management of chronic ear infections. The other common treatment for ear infections, of course, is antibiotics. In a 2009 review of pediatric adverse drug events in the outpatient setting, Bourgeois et al. found that an average of more than 585,000 pediatric adverse drug events required medical attention each year; by far the most common culprits in these cases, at 27.5 percent, were antimicrobial agents.
Let’s also look beyond just the peer-reviewed literature, and pay attention to another strong indicator of the safety of chiropractic in general and pediatric chiropractic: insurance rates. Chiropractors have the lowest malpractice rates of all primary health care providers in the country, and those rates are based on risk. I guarantee that insurance companies aren’t going to give us lower rates without good reason. And as a pediatric chiropractor, my rates are exactly the same as my colleagues who treat adults but no where close to that of medical doctors or orthopedic surgeons (who… like to claim that chiropractic is unsafe?).
- Improved Brain Function following Spinal Adjustment (11)
The absolute, most important organ that any doctor could ever help their patient improve is the BRAIN. Because the brain controls all human functions and health is equal to 100% function of the body physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. This means that anything that improves function of the brain, is good for your body! Does chiropractic improve brain function? HELL YEA it does! Over the past decade, there has been a growing body of evidence to suggest that chiropractic adjustments change the structure of the brain. This is called neural plasticity.
More than just confirming once again that adjusting the spine has an effect on the brain, this study indicates that adjustments impact the function of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where learning and cognition occur. The study showed a change in brain function by almost 20% on average. Say Wow! Ask your doctor if anything that improves “Learning and Memory” is good for you? If they say yes, then they also have to scientifically agree that chiropractic is good for you!
But more than just improving learning and memory, the pre-frontal cortex is also related to sensorimotor function. This is why adjustments are good for athletes as well as people interested in improving balance and coordination. Chiropractic adjustments can help with falls-prevention, better joint-position sense in both the upper and lower limbs, improved muscle strength in lower limb muscles, better pelvic floor control and better ability to carry out mental rotation of objects.
WHY THIS ARTICLE MATTERS
All the studies that have been performed to date not only shows that when we adjust the spine we can improve physiology including brain function. In fact, a chiropractic adjustment changes brain activity by 20% each and every adjustment. This means that every time you get adjusted, regardless of pain, improving posture or spine alignment- we’re having a big, positive effect on the brain. And a brain that’s functioning differently and conducting its activities better is sure to have an amazing, positive effect on the body. It’s not a matter of opinion. It’s not about an MD versus DC. It’s about getting the right information out there so you can make a good choice. It’s a scientific fact that chiropractic can play an important role in anyone’s health including the terminally ill, newborns and everyone in between.
So the next time someone challenges the benefits of chiropractic, questions why you see a chiropractor or tells you that chiropractic is not safe or proven to be effective, ask them where they got their Chiropractic degree from, and if they are up to date on the following peer reviewed, scientific, medical papers.