Chiropractic is a diverse profession and it is difficult to even characterise what a “typical” chiropractor is likely to do. There are a great many things that happen under the umbrella of “chiropractic.” There is a wide range of differences between individual chiropractors, but most can be placed within one of three basic types: Straights, Mixers, and Reformers.
Straight chiropractors consider themselves the only true or pure chiropractors because they limit their practice to the identification and treatment of spinal subluxations. They stick strictly to Palmer’s concept of disease and believe that all ailments can be treated through spinal manipulation to restore the flow of innate intelligence. Once freely flowing, they believe innate intelligence has unlimited power to naturally heal the body. Straight chiropractors are the most extreme in their anti-scientific views. They openly advocate a philosophical rather than a scientific basis for health care, calling mainstream medicine “mechanistic” and “allopathic.” They call physicians “drug pushers” and disparage the use of surgery. They are careful not to give diseases names, but none-the-less they claim to cure disease with their adjustments. They oppose vaccinations. They also openly advocate the replacement of scientific medicine with chiropractic as primary health care.
Mixers represent the largest segment of chiropractors, and may at first seem more rational. They accept that some disease is caused by infection or other causes and they do not limit their practice to fixing subluxations. Most chiropractors in this group, however, do not supplement subluxation theory with scientific medicine, but rather with an eclectic array of pseudoscientific alternative practices. Mixers commonly prescribe homeopathic and herbal remedies, practice acupuncture and therapeutic touch, diagnose with iridology, contour analysis, and applied kinesiology, and adhere to the philosophy of naturopathy. This broad use of unproven, unscientific, and fanciful so-called “alternative” practices clearly indicates an antiscience attitude, as well as a lack of scientific knowledge.
The rhetoric of Mixers indicates that they are attempting to become accepted into the scientific mainstream, rather than replace scientifically based medicine with a philosophy-based approach. They no longer openly oppose immunisation, like Straights do, but they do advocate the freedom to choose whether or not to be immunised. Their appeal to freedom is emotionally effective, especially in the United States, but it fails to recognise that immunisation is far less effective in eliminating or containing infectious diseases when it is not given to everyone (herd immunity). They also advocate a role for chiropractors as a primary care portal of entry system within HealthCare, despite the fact that they lack adequate training as generalists skilled in medical diagnosis.
A small minority of chiropractors, numbering only about 1,000, or 2% of all chiropractors (these are rough estimates because accurate figures are lacking), have been openly critical of their own field. They have called for absolute rejection of the subluxation theory of illness, disposing of pseudoscientific and unethical practices by chiropractors, and the restriction of chiropractic to treating acute musculoskeletal symptoms. They are attempting to bring their field into the scientific mainstream. Occasionally chiropractic reformers have attempted to forge a new profession, entirely shedding the pseudoscience attached to the chiropractic brand. About ten years ago one group in Canada renamed themselves “Orthopractors,” and considered the new discipline of orthopractic as distinct from chiropractic. Orthopractic is the use of manipulation to provide symptomatic relief from uncomplicated acute back strain. They do not believe in maintenance therapy, treating medical ailments, or the use of pseudoscientific alternative practices. Reformers call subluxations “dumbluxations” because they know it’s all nonsense without a shred of evidence to support most chiropractic claims.
The take home message is to stick with one who uses the adjustments for manipulation only – safest for the lower back. If they do some massage and ultrasound therapy, great. Both are used by physiotherapists with proven results. The only evidence out there shows that chiropractic can be effective for lower back pain, but no more than main stream treatments such as physiotherapy. I used to see a guy for neck manipulation but since I got a grip on my food triggers and made the appropriate lifestyle changes I haven’t gone back. I feel safer not having my neck cracked. It was migraine causing the neck pain anyway. Of course the chiro never had a clue about that (nor did any doctors).
Best … Scott 8)