"I really just want to get off of all these PILLS!"
These people are looking for alternatives because their faith in medicine has been shaken. I hear this every day in my office. I hear statements like "My doctor just keeps giving me pills. That's his answer for everything." "I am worse off than I was before the meds." "I wish I never had that damn neck surgery."
And these are not just anti-establishment types who always buck trends. These are people who were raised in the medicine cabinet and never questioned their doctor but started reading and started asking questions, and they decided to go in a different direction based on their own personal experiences. One of those directions is into our Chiropractic practice.
Chiropractic has been around for 115 years. It is not a "new wave" treatment by any means. Chiropractic has gone from being considered a miraculous new fad to 'voodoo' to illegal to legal to officially blacklisted (thanks to the AMA, although they lost when chiropractic had its day in court and won). Now Chiropractic is the largest alternative health care profession in the United States. It has gained in credibility and availability, with Doctors of Chiropractic licensed in all 50 states and over 70 countries.
Hundreds of research studies have been done proving its efficacy, even though the profession gets a tiny percentage of the government research funding that goes to pharmaceutical companies and medical schools. And the biggest voice for chiropractic is not chiropractors themselves, but patients. According to a comprehensive study done by Consumer Reports, Chiropractic care was ranked #1 in the treatment of back pain. 59 % of respondents were "highly satisfied" with the treatment they received from their Doctor of Chiropractic, while only 34 % of respondents said the same about the treatment from their primary medical doctor. I guess 1 out of 3 people must really, really like pain meds, apparently.
Chiropractors are on the training staffs of the PGA, US Olympic Team, NBA, Major League Baseball, and the NFL. Hall of Fame athletes such as John Stockton, Jerry Rice (who apparently is quite the dancer, I'm told), Joe Montana, and Lance Armstrong have sworn by chiropractic care and credited their Doctor of Chiropractic with improving their performance and prolonging their careers. Future NFL hall of famer Michael Strahan had his chronic neck pain and migraines corrected with Atlas Orthogonal Chiropractic and won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year afterward. (And when some patient tells me that our adjustment is "too gentle" to move a bone, I ask them if they have more muscle mass than a 300 pound All-Pro defensive lineman...)
I am amazed at the change in perception that I have seen in my own backyard of Muskegon, Michigan; even among the medical community. We treat nurses, pharmacists, dentists, optometrists, therapists, and psychologists. We also have a few local MDs that refer patients to us (gasp!). Patients who tell their doctors that they are coming to our office are often surprised when they receive a blessing instead of a tongue-lashing, although some are still close-minded to anything but drugs and surgery. It's almost like medicine/alternative medicine is an all-or-nothing thing. It shouldn't be. They both work, depending on the situation. I'll gladly refer a patient out if I have reason to believe their pain is due to a kidney infection, gallstone, or fracture. So, why do some MDs (not all) keep a patient strung along for years on the same medications for their pain, without considering another option? Pride? Ignorance? Pressure from within their profession? Who knows? Rather than dwell on the close-mindedness of some, I prefer to focus on what we can do to make things better for the future generation. I was recently reminded by a colleague of a quote from the late great Dr. B.J. Palmer: "It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness."
One area we need to improve on is making chiropractic care more top-of-mind in today's health care landscape. Chiropractic should be one of the first things people think of in regards to gaining and maintaining health along with dental care, vision care, hygiene, nutrition, and exercise. In many cases, though, we remain a last resort. Many times we succeed after other treatments fail, which is very rewarding, but frustrating at the same time because many patients have to suffer for years before making their way into our offices. They often say "Why didn't anybody ever tell me about this?" I don't have an answer for them. I simply encourage them to inform others about the importance of the spine and nervous system and how specific Chiropractic care can improve their health. This grass roots effort has worked for over a century, but it is time to take Chiropractic MORE mainstream so we can help as many people as possible to quit covering up their symptoms with pills and potions and improve their quality of life.