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3620 Henry Street Norton Shores, MI 49441

The Times They Are-a-Changin'

"I really just want to get off of all these PILLS!"

This statement has been echoed by new patients in my office time and time again.  It may seem simple, but it really is quite profound.  The doctor prescribed the medication for a specific disease, so why would a patient possibly want to discontinue their treatment?  In the good old days, patients saw their doctors, took their pills, and asked no questions.  So, what in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks happened?The same thing that has happened many times over the course of human history when any group of people start to question the people in positions of power: the people become educated.  As people gain knowledge, they question the dogma that has been burned into their thought process, including the notion that drugs and surgery are the only possible method for fighting illness and regaining health.Although drugs, surgeries, and emergency medical procedures have no doubt saved countless lives especially in regards to acute trauma and illness, this does not mean they are the treatment of choice when it comes to managing chronic illness.  For example, conditions such as type II diabetes, migraine headaches, chronic low back pain, and heart disease are on the rise, even though more people are on blood thinners, statins, pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, and diabetes medications than ever before.  So the answer to eradicating these "diseases" cannot be found in drugs and surgeries alone and people are starting to figure that out.  They have been on these medications for years with no resolution of their problem and they have probably encountered some unsettling side affects along the way.

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 StocktonJerry 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.


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Thursday:
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Contact Dr. Zehr in his Norton Shores, Michigan practice.

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