Chiropractic treatments can be a very effective method of reducing chronic pain, assisting with injury recovery, and with an overall lifetime of alignment and well-being. Despite its popularity, however, there are still some myths and misconceptions about chiropractic.
MYTH: Chiropractors Crack Bones
There is a persistent myth that chiropractors crack the patient’s bones. In fact, spinal adjustments manipulate the spine and joints (between the bones). The cracking sound is just opening joint space, adjusting the connections between the bones, not the bones themselves. Some chiropractic treatments don’t even manipulate, instead employing “physiotherapy, soft tissue work, exercise – stretch and ergonomic advice, and nutritional – dietary counseling.”1
MYTH: Patients Have to Go Forever
Another popular misconception is that chiropractic care is required for the rest of the patient’s life. If a patient is going to resolve a particular condition, there can be an end date. Some patients actually want to go for maintenance or preventative care and choose to avoid “accumulative strain and acute flare-ups.” In that sense, chiropractic treatment resembles dental care.2 Patients can choose whether or not to go. Just as they would want to maintain healthy oral care, patients can opt to maintain their healthy alignment.
MYTH: Chiropractic Care is Unsafe
“The risk of serious injury following chiropractic treatment is…less than 0.01% according to medical studies.” Invasive medical procedures can be dangerous. Injections, medications, and surgeries can be more problematic.3 “Adverse reactions to properly prescribed medications are the third leading cause of death in America.”4 Spinal adjustments done by a qualified chiropractor, trained in these treatments, are among the safest treatments for problems in the back and neck. If manipulations are done by an unqualified, nonchiropractic practitioner, there can be problems. According to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (1994), spinal manipulations should be pursued, in most cases, before surgical treatments, and prescription medication is not recommended for acute low back pain.5
MYTH: Chiropractors Aren’t Real Doctors
“Chiropractic students receive 4,485 hours of college classroom instruction vs. 4,248 hours for other medical students.”6 Chiropractors require 2-4 years of undergraduate premed studies, with 4-5 years of academic study at a chiropractic college, including “extensive training in anatomy, physiology, pathology, neurology, radiology, differential diagnosis, chiropractic adjusting techniques, biomechanics, and other health-related studies.” Next, several hundred hours of real, supervised, clinical practice is necessary. Finally, new Doctors of Chiropractic must pass National and State Board examinations in order to get a license—and they must receive annual continuing education.7
MYTH: Chiropractors Are Expensive
“Many insurance companies, including Medicare, cover adjustments”8 Many government and workers’ compensation studies have shown that chiropractic care is more cost-effective than traditional medical treatments, especially for management of lower back pain.9
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