“Why don’t you crack bones like other chiropractors?” This question often comes up after I explain the Atlas Orthogonal adjusting procedure to a new patient in my Muskegon chiropractic practice. The answer to this question may surprise you. It has nothing to do with trying to be a maverick. It has nothing to do with finding some niche in the market. It has nothing to do with an inability to perform a manual manipulation (I was proficient in traditional chiropractic before discovering these techniques). It has nothing to do with saving my own back (which has been a really nice side benefit since our technique is also MUCH easier on the doctor). In fact, it has nothing to do with me at all. It has everything to do with being able to serve more people.
It’s a fact. Not everybody can tolerate a more forceful, chiropractic manipulation. This is not to say that traditional chiropractic methods are unsafe. Far from it. Even the most aggressive chiropractic manipulation, when done properly, is orders of magnitude safer than drugs, injections, and surgeries. And there are plenty of patients who love a good old fashioned cervical manipulation, which is great. I am not knocking the practice of manipulation per se, as long as the doctor is very specific and taking care of the patient properly. Chiropractic was created and developed with manual manipulation by the "greats" like Dr. B.J. Palmer, Dr. Clarence Gonstead, and Dr. John Grostic. However, there are multiple patient populations who don’t feel the benefit of a manipulation is worth the pain experienced during and after the treatments. So, if you can get the same benefit of chiropractic care, without the discomfort to the patient, wouldn't it make sense to do so?
For instance, osteoporotic patients are not being seen for their osteoporosis specifically, but their condition increases the risk of fracture, which is a legitimate concern with manual manipulation (especially rib fracture). Rheumatoid arthritis patients have instability in the ligaments of the upper neck, so a forceful manipulation in this area of the spine can be problematic, as well. In addition, RA patients who are experiencing a “flare up” are very unlikely to be able to tolerate an aggressive manipulation. The same is true of fibromyalgia patients. When they’re having a “bad day,” they are often in so much pain they can hardly move. I can’t even imagine what would happen if someone tried to “twist" the neck. Would the patient be seriously injured? Most likely not. However, the risk of aggravating the symptoms is very real. Who wants to come see a chiropractor if the treatment makes them feel considerably WORSE?
I hear this all the time from patients who have switched to Zehr Chiropractic because of our method. “You’re not going to twist my neck, right?” asks Molly MacButter, a 38 year-old migraine sufferer. Guess what? She didn’t come to us because she liked our sign. Our office is not located on her commute. She wasn’t enthralled by my immensely humorous, informative, and entertaining blog (obviously). She consulted us because Sally Swayback in accounting told her we wouldn’t twist her neck.
Gentle, non-manipulative techniques like Atlas Orthogonal and Activator Methods, which are both used in our office, are also great for new patients whose symptoms are very acute. I have met patients who are in severe neck spasm and they can only turn their head 10 degrees from side to side. I don’t have to wonder “How the heck am I going to fight her muscle contraction in order to put her atlas back in? I know! I’ll tell her to ‘Just relax!’ That always works!” Luckily for our patients, the instruments we use to adjust the spine are very precise and very fast, negating the need to overpower the patient. Work smarter, not harder!
If you like chiropractic care but get nervous every time you put your head into someone’s hands, you may want to try an Atlas Orthogonal or Activator Methods doctor of chiropractic. If it just wigs you out to think of someone “cracking” your bones, that’s okay, too. Remember, it’s your body and you can decide which method is best for you, (regardless of what your insurance company thinks you need..but that’s another topic).
One thing that always irks me is when someone says “Well, I tried chiropractic and it didn’t do anything for me.” Correction. You tried a chiropracTOR. ChiropracTIC is an entire profession made up of thousands of doctors across the globe who utilize dozens of various techniques. There is no way that you have exhausted the whole gamut of a profession by seeing Dr. Joe down the street.
To put it another way, have you EVER had a bad experience in a doctor’s office, clinic, ER, urgent care, or hospital? I’m guessing you have. Did you completely swear off allopathic medicine because of that ONE experience with that ONE practitioner? Of course not. So should it be with chiropracTIC. If you didn’t achieve the results you wanted, keep looking until you find a good fit for your health care needs. If you live in West Michigan, I would love to be your doc (provided you have good hygiene...just kidding). If not, ask your friends, co-workers, or parole officer who they see for their spinal care. Don’t give up hope because of one experience. Your spine is too important Your health is too important.
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