Lie #7: If we get enough research proving chiropractic, acceptance will follow.
Actually, there's plenty of chiropractic research. In fact, compared to many sacrosanct procedures used in medicine, chiropractic efficacy is well documented. The question is, what do you want chiropractic research to prove?
"Proving" that chiropractic is an effective treatment for a particular health complaint means that you're accepting the premise that chiropractic is a treatment. A drug is a treatment. But an adjustment isn't. (Many chiropractors use it as such, but that's an "off label" use of chiropractic.)
And this isn't merely semantics. Adjusting the patient with the intent of allowing their body to function more normally and whose success or timing is impossible to predict is a far different assignment than whether a chemical concoction can speed up or slow down some bodily function.
The effect of restoring nerve communications between brain and body is fraught with uncertainties that can profoundly affect the outcome and for which screening is difficult or impossible. Among them:
Lifestyle choices – The amount and quality of sleep, hydration habits, diet, exercise frequency and duration and social support can be factors.
Limitations of matter – Whether longstanding disease states will reverse with a restoration of nerve supply is unpredictable.
Emotional health – Largely ignored by traditional medicine which relies on hijacking the bloodstream, if a patient is in a loveless marriage, saddled with burdensome debt or suffering some other emotional stress (which they may not even be aware they have), chiropractic care is likely to be palliative at best.
Dismissing chiropractic until we can produce better research is merely a grown up version of a professional snipe hunt.
Chiropractic research is deemed as not being robust enough or of high enough quality. Never mind that much pharmacuetical research is tainted by commercial interests and whose efficacy is often a statistical slight of hand. It's a double standard that chiropractic is unlikely to overcome.
Far more impressive and a more appropriate measure for chiropractic are case studies. Deep in the patient files of millions, maybe billions of chiropractic patients over the last century, is the proof that something quite significant happens when you permit the body to function more normally by adding a precise energy at opportune times and places along the spine. Combine that with extraordinarily high patient satisfaction and common sense suggests that something's going on. Want "proof?" There's your proof.
But there is a far more serious deception in play here. And that's the notion that research will somehow produce social and professional acceptance.
This is like wanting to be accepted by the cool kids in high school. The energy would be better spent by delighting patients, equipping them to explain chiropractic to others and basically relegating medicine to what it does best: heroic lifesaving.
Acceptance isn't the result of some rational formula. And more pounds of research won't manifest it any sooner. Chiropractic doesn't fit their model unless you reduce it to biomechanics and physical medicine.
Truth: Acceptance is overrated. Worse, it equates chiropractic care with medical treatment. They are different, with different intentions, different outcomes and different interventions. Instead of acceptance, equip more patients to appreciate the distinctions offered by chiropractic.
Bill Esteb has been a chiropractic patient and advocate since 1981. He is the creative director of Patient Media and the co-founder of Perfect Patients. He’s been a regular speaker at Parker Seminars and other chiropractic gatherings since 1985. He is the author of 12 books that explore the doctor/patient relationship from a patient’s point of view. His chiropractic blog, in-office consultations, patient focus groups and consulting calls have helped hundreds of chiropractors around the world. His Monday Morning Motivation is emailed to over 10,000 subscribers each week.