One of the most infuriating responses I get when I introduce myself as a chiropractor is, “Oh, I don’t believe in chiropractic. I went to a chiropractor once and it didn’t help at all.” To me, this is like saying, “Oh, I don’t like to eat at restaurants. I went to one once and the food was terrible.” Just like there are thousands of different types of restaurants, there is also a huge variety of chiropractors. It is not fair to paint us all with the same brush.
First of all, there are literally hundreds of chiropractic techniques, including Gonstead, Thompson, Activator, CBP, Pettibon, and Logan, to name a few. Some chiropractors use only their hands to deliver the adjustment. Others use special tools or tables. Some chiropractors only adjust the spine. Others adjust extremities as well, and may use other modalities such as ultrasound, massage, heat/ice, and exercises to treat their patients. I like to use a little bit of everything- whatever works best for each individual patient.
There is also a vast difference in philosophy within the chiropractic profession. The most traditional “straight” chiropractors believe that misalignments (subluxations) of the spine and subsequent dysfunction of the nervous system are the root cause of “dis-ease”. Correct the subluxation and the body will heal itself. On the other end of the spectrum are the more scientific “mixer” chiropractors, who believe that there are many causes of pain and disease in addition to spinal dysfunction, including diet, exercise, lifestyle, genetics, and stress. While they still utilize the chiropractic adjustment in order to address spinal dysfunction, they are more likely to use other modalities when needed and coordinate care with other doctors. (In case you are wondering, I consider myself to be more on the scientific end).
Finally, every profession has its “bad apples”, and unfortunately chiropractic is no exception. Most chiropractors are skilled, caring professionals who truly have their patients’ interests at heart. However, there are some who only care about the money, and they are willing to resort to unethical and sometimes even illegal practices in order to increase the bottom line. Unfortunately, these bad apples give the rest of us a bad name.
If you have ever had a negative experience with a chiropractor before, I apologize on behalf of my profession. In return, I ask that you please don’t let that one experience color your view of chiropractic as a whole. Perhaps that chiropractor’s technique wasn’t right for you, or maybe his philosophy didn’t jive with yours. Maybe your personalities were not compatible. Or possibly, you had one of the bad apples. I urge you to try a different chiropractor, or even try a few different ones until you find someone you like. Your body will thank you!