by Christian Duque
I’m a firm believer in all things that aim to improve quality of life. There’s a variety of approaches from the holistic to the medical that can have positive effects on everyday people’s ability to lead healthier, happier lifestyles. I’m all for it. I want that to be crystal clear; however, there are approaches such as chiropractic that I’m not entirely sold on for myself. When it comes to treatment I like to see studies and actual proof that the methodologies render actual results. When it comes to the spiritual and holistic, that’s a lot harder said than done.
In many of those situations “improvement” is as much subjective as it is clinical. Chiropractic, however, doesn’t want to be classified as holistic; it’s not medicine but it wants to be classified as such.
For example, practitioners are called doctors of chiropractic. Many patients address them the same way as they would their physician. Many chiropractors, especially those on YouTube, appear in white lab coats, with stethoscopes around their neck, and read off x-rays. Chiropractors can’t practice medicine and their doctorates aren’t much different than getting a PhD in history or botany. They’re not medical doctors but they’re still called doctors. This leads many to think of the entire science as quack medicine. The jokers on YouTube may rack up millions of hits because of the audible cracks that can be heard from their various spinal manipulation techniques they employ, but the relief is only temporary. Most people who start “therapy” will never complete it. Many folks will require adjustments well into the future and once they stop going they may find their quality of life reduced from their starting point.
I myself am on the fence about going to chiro. About a couple of weeks ago I was doing dumbbell chest presses with the 115’s and while I didn’t experience any issues during the workout, I suspect something may have happened afterwards. It may have also been the following day when I trained delts without a sufficient warm-up. I honestly don’t know if the lifting was the culprit. For several nights I slept twisted and woke up with horrible lower back, neck, and left arm pain. I took a break from the weights, took some hot bathes, and got a massage. I also implemented Heal and Relief from Muscle Gelz and a turmeric supplement. Over the course of days my body has been naturally healing itself. I’ve also slowly incorporated limited exercises in hopes of improving flexibility. That said, all the while I’ve wondered if I had gone to a chiropractor, maybe they could have given me a few adjustments and my problems would’ve been solved. That’s certainly a possibility.
Another possibility is that I could’ve gone to the chiro and actually been put in a worse position than I was before going for treatment. The reality of the matter is that there’s a sea of practitioners and many are not good at all. The cervical spine is the main area that chiropractic focuses on. Its manipulation is not only not normal but if done incorrectly could lead to very serious issues. All we ever hear about are the successes but there are also those with horror stories to tell. The fact is chiro works for a number of people but if someone is in need of surgery, I’m not sure that releasing nitrogen and oxygen from a misaligned vertebrae is really going to change much. There’s no question that easing up joint pressure feels good and if done consistently will probably make for easier mobility, but that’s a far cry from removing the need for surgery. This is where a number of individuals err. Chiro and pain management may dull the pain but they don’t solve the problem.
Coming from a background in personal injury law, I’m familiar with a number of shady chiro practitioners who have been flagged by insurance companies. If someone injured in a car wreck even looks at some of these red-flagged clinics, they can pretty much kiss their claims away. Their assessments are trash and their treatments belong in the same trash can. The fact is many of these questionable clinics work with equally shady PI (personal injury) lawyers who either send clients to them or vice versa. Once you start following the money trail you become aware of some very stark realities. Maybe I’m jaded but when it comes to treatment of everything from muscle soreness to whiplash to varying disc issues many insurance providers prefer injured people to go to medical doctors. They look at Chiro with a great deal of skepticism. This is also why I’ve debated whether this is something I would ever consider. Also medical doctors don’t have the most glowing reviews of chiro, either. Many MD’s I know believe in the importance of sports massage and even holistic therapies like cupping, acupuncture, and acupressure. They see no value in chiro. Many think it’s nothing more than easing of joint pressure and/or a placebo effect triggered by audible cracks and the prospect of a full recovery. Doctors of Chiropractic, or DOC’s, have always had to battle with issues of credibility in the medical community, as well as with state boards and in terms of public opinion.
I have never known anyone to walk into a chiropractor and be told they’re healthy and not in need of services. You can totally walk into a medical doctor’s office and be told that you don’t need shots or surgeries or other therapies. On the flipside, every chiropractor known to man will run a series of tests, that at times seem comical, and many like (those on Youtube) will go into full med-speak. Others will read from X-rays and discuss treatment options. In reality most chiropractors can’t legally run X-rays, let alone know what they’re looking at.
To say I’m tempted to see if my skepticism is baseless would be the understatement of the century. Of course I’m tempted but I still probably won’t do it. What’s your take on chiro? Is it as legitimate as medical science or is it quack medicine? I look forward to reading your feedback in the comments. As always, thanks for reading Iron Magazine. Feel free to copy and paste a link to this article on all your social media feeds. I promise you it’ll generate some lively conversations.