Friday, February 17, 2012

The History of Chiropractic Bias

Have you ever encountered a person (or are you one of the people) that, when the topic of chiropractic is brought up, becomes awash with negative thoughts?

"Those guys are quacks."
"They're doctorate came from a weekend seminar." (one of my favorites)
"Oh, the back crackers!"
"I don't believe in that." (another of my favorites)

There is so much bias against chiropractic.  The history of such bias dates back nearly one hundred years and an important lesson can be learned from it.  BJ Palmer, the developer of the chiropractic profession and, specifically, the developer of the Upper Cervical practice, took the idea of chiropractic and shaped it into something viable, specific, and scientific.  Prior to, it was something new in dire need of development, no different than the invention of airplane required a lot of trial and error before they got it down pat and realized the potential of what the invention could mean on a larger scale.

Nowhere will you find more ego than in the healing arts.  Once BJ Palmer developed a repeatable system for chiropractic and began teaching it to greater numbers, then greater numbers of people were being helped by it with more consistency.  During the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, chiropractic dominated traditional medical methods in helping people overcome the flu.  Chiropractic patients, of which there were nearly 50,000 under care for Spanish flu, were lost at a rate of about 1 in 900.  Medical patients were lost at a rate of 1 in 15.  The staggering discrepancy upset the status quo.  Rather than embrace chiropractic as the practice that it was, medical men had chiropractors thrown in jail for practicing medicine without a license.

Thus, the bias was born out of a petty rivalry.

BJ Palmer struggled for years to fight this and eventually succeeded in ensuring that chiropractic and medicine were separated legally in both practice and principle.  Nevertheless, the larger, better known, and more influential medical industry helped create the bias.

Unfortunately, chiropractors did enough on their own to further and massively proliferate the bias.  Despite a symposium in 1958 where BJ Palmer led the way to amendments in law confirmed by the Senate that separated chiropractic and medicine definitively, something happened in the years that followed that hurt chiropractic and continues to hurt it to this day.

On that day in '58, BJ stated that chiropractic is governed by the law of life, that disease is caused by problems that arise inside the body due to it failing to properly regulate as it was designed to do and that by finding and correcting the cause, then normal internal regulation would resume and the disease would be no more.  Sound idea.  Makes sense.  He also stated that medicine is governed by the idea that disease is caused by things from outside the body and that only external remedies can cure the disease.  Definitely reaching, but unquestionably the more established thought process.

A medical physician with a Senate seat stated to BJ, upon hearing of the chiropractic principle, "If I had to do it over again, I would have come to your school and studied under you."

So, you may ask, "What happened next?"

A clear cut delineation was established that day.  Yet, the bias still stood, the rivalry still existed, and chiropractors, anxious to get a slice of the more profitable and easier to come by pie, started practicing like medical physicians with medical philosophies, simply replacing pharmaceutics with manipulation.  They carved their niche as lower back pain specialists and presented themselves to the public as such.  Tens of thousands of chiropractors followed suit.  The profession, as a whole, still supports this bias today.  The adoption by insurance companies of covered chiropractic services only helped drive the profession into Bias-ville.  Insurance is for medical treatment, by design.  To be covered under that umbrella means you have to treat like a medical physician.

Chiropractic was never intended to treat disease like medical doctors do.  Yet, most do.  There's no denial on my part of the benefit of that practice, but it sells the profession short.  Instead of the first options that we should be EVERYONE no matter the condition (for it's smarter to see if the body can fix itself first and then use chemical concoctions as a last resort instead of the other way around), we are all met with uneducated bias.  It's our own fault.

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