The answer to this question is not so simple as it might appear. Chiropractors do not profess to be miracle workers, able to cure anything under the sun. Among the conditions in which chiropractic is of little or no benefit are various hereditary abnormalities such as defective nerve fibers, faulty metabolism, excess cerebro-spinal fluid, or conditions of irreversible pathology. The chiropractic examination, which includes not only standard procedures employed by medical doctors but specialized chiropractic procedures as well, will reveal whether or not these conditions are present.
Then there is a wide area reserved to the medical profession in which chiropractors do not attempt to practice. Although chiropractors deal with structural adjustments, they do not set broken bones; that province is reserved to the medical doctor. Nor do chiropractors treat cuts and wounds, perform surgery, practice obstetrics, or prescribe or administer drugs. When a condition appears to be outside his particular field, the chiropractor refers the patient to a dentist, gynecologist, optometrist, surgeon, syphilogist, etc.
The chiropractor does not profess to be able to help after the disease condition has reached a point where its progress is irreversible, even though the functioning of the nervous system may be restored by chiropractic. He may only be able to alleviate suffering and prolong life. In cases of malignancy in which the prognosis is bad, for example, chiropractic frequently is able to eliminate abnormal afferent or incoming sensory impulses originating in the tumor area and improve general bodily functionings, thus greatly reducing or even eliminating the necessity for taking drugs and opiates and increasing the remaining life expectancy.
It should always be remembered that the chiropractor is a structural engineer of the body, a “bio-engineer” as contrasted with the drug practitioner, who is a “biochemist. More properly, he might be termed a “bioelectrical-engineer” since he is concerned with the transmission of electrical impulses via the nerves. It is easy to see why chiropractic has been successful in such a wide variety of ills, which in turn have a wide variety of structural causes. As chiropractic research has demonstrated, there are a multitude of environmental factors which can and do get the body structures out of perfect alignment and as a consequence impair nerve functioning and invite disease. Some of these are:
Faulty posturethe “original sin” in chiropractic thinking. Incidentally, chiropractors, regardless of age, have the best posture of any group in our society, since they know the importance of preventive therapy as well as of corrective therapy.
Falls, blows, strains, jolts and twists. There are few persons who are not subject to these accidents or occupational injuries and to most of us they occur quite frequently. Chiropractors emphasize that a subluxation or other structural misalignment may be no more than microscopic in degree to cause serious derangement of nerve functioning.
Asymmetries due to “lop sided” activities in work or play. These activities tend to strengthen certan muscles at the expense of others and pull the spine out of line. Among such activities are games like bowling, tennis, baseball, and golf, and such work as typing and plastering. (A much more complete list is given in Chapter Four.)
Fatigue. Merely notice how the tired person tends to “droop” and perhaps let his stomach “drop,” and the importance of fatigue will become obvious.
Exposure to heat, cold, pain, humidity, and drafts can cause muscular contractions that in turn bring on structural defects. Correction of these defects by the chiropractor frequently results in amazingly swift cure of a multitude of so called “low-resistance” ills such as the common cold, pneumonia, influenza, grippe, sinusitis, and mastoiditis.
Emotion. When a person is disturbed by worry, fear, grief, and other emotions, structural tensions are present. Merely notice the characteristic postures of elation and despair to be convinced of this. Because the chiropractor “cuts through” these tensions and allows the nervous system to function normally again, he often accomplishes remarkable results with the emotionally disturbed. Many ailments, such as peptic ulcer, are known to be of emotional origin; in these, too, the chiropractor is highly successful.
The above is but a partial list of factors which often result in structural maladjustment and consequent illness. The chiropractor can often detect “short circuits” in the nervous system and microscopicsubluxations before symptoms begin to develop; he can there-fore prevent disease by making its incubation impossible. For this reason, many prudent patients make periodic visits to their chiropractors as a matter of course just for checkups, on the same principle that many people see their medical doctors or dentists at regular intervals, even when feeling fine.
In Part Two was listed a wide variety of ailments in which chiropractic has proven highly successful, frequently after medical care had failed. In many of these, as proven by comparison of many thousands of medical and chiropractic patients, chiropractic consistently achieves higher percentages of both cure and alleviation, a fact which is all the more remarkable because so many of the patients had turned to chiropractors only after M.D.’s had given them up and their powers of resistance and recuperation were, at best, at very low ebb. The great chiropractic research organizations and associations insist that if all of these patients had come to chiropractors at the commencement of their illnesses, the superiority of chiropractic over medical therapy would be even more strikingly demonstrated.
There is striking evidence that chiropractic not only cures or benefits a higher percentage of patients than do other forms of therapy, but that it achieves these results in shorter time and at less cost; and finally, that the benefits of chiropractic are more lasting. The evidence is to be found in the records of many impartial sources such as accident and health insurance companies, mutual benefit societies and fraternal organizations, unions, state workmen’s compensation boards, large industrial plants, and numerous others.
Canada’s Foundry Journal reported in its June, 1956, issue the results of an industrial survey from the files of Workmen’s Compensation Boards in 44 States of the U.S.A. and in Canada. The survey was limited to a study of low-back injuries treated by three methods, chiropractic, osteopathy, and medicine. In all, 4,746 cases of low-back injuries were included in the survey. Crushing injuries, fractures, and others requiring surgery were not included. The cases treated in hospitals were not considered to be any more serious than those treated outside of hospital.
The Journal gives these findings:
“The figures of the greatest significance were probably those dealing with the relative number of work days lost under the different types of care. Medical (non-hospitalized) with 19.9 days, medical (hospitalized) with 33.8 days, osteopathy with 11.5, and chiropractic with 10.9 days off work. Any type of care which results in less time lost means a resulting drop in labour turnover and less retraining. Both are expensive factors in production. For labour this means more take-home pay and new opportunity to regain health rapidly.
“Also of significance are the figures showing the amount of compensation paid in each of the four categories. Since the number of days off work directly affects the amount of compensation, the chiropractic grouping indicates the savings possible when this type of care is employed for such injuries.
The compensation paid was, for the group treated by chiropractic, $27.07; osteopathy, $35.46; medical (non-hospitalized) $50.06; medical (hospitalized), $85.34.
“The wages lost by the worker were reported as follows: chiropractic $55.52; osteopathy $76.06; medical (non-hospitalized) $95.06; medical (hospitalized) $163.44. The average cost of professional care in the four groups was: chiropractic $27.88; osteopathy $29.85; medical (non-hospitalized) $27.07; medical (hospitalized) $121.45. These figures do not show the same great difference in cost, but coupled to the great savings shown by the previous statistics the total cost of chiropractic care reveals a significant saving for the worker,. the Compensation Board, and the industry; not only in money but also in man-hours. The total cost table shows the following figures: chiropractic $56.12; osteopathy $64.19; medical (non-hospitalized) $67.69; medical (hospitalized) $209.48.”
Canada’s Foundry journal makes this conclusion: “Spinal injuries are one of the commonest causes of time-loss and pay-loss in industry. This is especially true, of course, in heavy industry . . . The results of this survey proved conclusively that chiropractic care of low-back injuries has no equal and can be of tremendous benefit in reducing the lost man-hours and lost wages suffered by those afflicted with this painful condition.”
Medical Economics noted in its advice to the medical profession :
`Do you think the average American is too ignorant to know what’s good for him? If not, why not let him decide whether he wants to go to a chiropractor? … The chiropractors assure us that they don’t in any way want to restrict doctors of medicine. Why, then, should you seek to restrict them? They’ll concede that there’s something in medicine and surgery. Why won’t you concede that there may be something in chiropractic? What’s fair for one, is fair for the other. Isn’t that the American way?”
Indeed that is the American waythe right of free choice after examination of the facts. This right is, of course, explicitly guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States. Every American has the right to choose his doctor and whatever type of therapy that doctor may employ.
The question is not whether one should give up the services of a medical doctor and entrust himself exclusively to a chiropractor. Each has his clearly defined place in the great complex of the over-all art of healing. Each may, in many an instance, complement the other to the benefit of the patient whom both are trying to aid.
Chiropractic’s unique contribution toward eliminating a wide number of ailments has been growing de-spite the obstacles presented by special interest groups. In the years ahead, chiropractic is destined to serve an ever increasing number of peopleand from all indcations, serve them well!