The last three blogs that we presented were topics not associated with chiropractic care and services. We talked about the weakened immune system and using chiropractic care versus NSAIDs, the opioid epidemic in the United States, and the unsuccessful permanent solution of using steroid injections. In this week’s blog, we are going to take a slight turn and talk about what a chiropractor’s philosophy is versus a medical doctor’s and clear up any misconceptions between chiropractors and medical doctors.
What is a Medical Doctor’s Philosophy?
When a medical doctor graduates from medical school, they may specialize in a particular field, whether it be family medicine, cardiology, neurology, podiatry, gastroenterology, oncology, etc. Regardless of the specialty, they have the same philosophy. A medical doctor’s philosophy is to get patients better using tools and procedures that they learned in medical school. These tools and procedures may include surgical intervention, prescription medicine, steroid injections, and/or medical assisted devices.
Procedures chosen by a medical provider must have sufficient evidence to back up an appropriate diagnosis. This requires medical providers to perform an appropriate exam that may include a neurological/orthopedic evaluation, diagnostic imaging such as an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan, or any other diagnostic tool that they are certified to request or perform. Once a diagnosis has been determined, a recommended treatment plan with targeted goals and prognosis rate should be discussed with the patient.
What is a Chiropractor’s Philosophy?
When a chiropractor graduates from chiropractic school, they may choose to only practice straight chiropractic, or they may choose to further their studies and specialize in a specific study of chiropractic. Some chiropractic diplomate programs include pediatrics, neurology, sports medicine, nutrition, etc.
A chiropractor’s philosophy is to get patients better using tools and procedures that they learned in chiropractic school. Does this sound like a medical doctor’s philosophy? Yes, but a chiropractor’s approach is different than any other medical profession.
Chiropractic is a Greek term meaning, Done by hand.” Rather than prescribing medicine, performing surgery, or using steroid injections, chiropractors use their hands or an instrument adjusting tool to treat patients. Chiropractors are not even licensed to prescribe medicine or perform surgical procedures and that’s fine because it’s against our philosophical approach to treat patients.
Chiropractors take a natural approach when treating patients, using the human spine as the service center because it is the protective barrier to the nervous system. In the chiropractic world, there is a medical term called a vertebral subluxation. A vertebral subluxation is when one or more vertebrae are misaligned in a particular direction that applies impingement or pressure on associated nerve roots. When a vertebral subluxation is present, patients may experience symptoms such as pain that radiates, sensory deficits, muscle weakness, and/or organ malfunction.
Just like medical doctors, chiropractors have a set of tools and procedures that they learned in chiropractic school. In fact, some tools and procedures that medical providers learn in medical school are also taught in chiropractic school. Both professions learn the same neurological/orthopedic evaluation testing for proper diagnosing, and both professions learn to take x-rays. Chiropractors don’t take MRIs or CT scans, but they can learn to read them efficiently with continuing education.
Procedures chosen by a chiropractor must have sufficient evidence to back up an appropriate diagnosis. This requires chiropractors to perform an appropriate exam that may include a neurological/orthopedic evaluation, diagnostic imaging such as an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan, or any other diagnostic tool that they are certified to perform. Once a diagnosis has been determined, a recommended treatment plan with targeted goals and prognosis rate should be discussed with the patient.
Misconceptions Between Chiropractors and Medical Doctors
So, wait. Do chiropractors and medical doctors do similar testing to formulate a diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan for patients? Yes. The process is the same when diagnosing patients. The only thing that is different is how they treat patients.
If diagnosing similar conditions are identical, then why don’t chiropractors and medical doctors get along? Medicine has been around for thousands of years, and chiropractic has only been around for 128 years. No medical doctor would have ever thought that a new profession that treats patients without drugs or without surgery would ever exist. Why change how things have been done for thousands of years?
When chiropractic was first introduced, the profession was shamed and even banned in many states. Hundreds of chiropractors were imprisoned for practicing chiropractic several times because they continuously broke the no chiropractic law. Those chiropractors fought for our profession and eventually, chiropractic was recognized as a reputable healthcare option.
So, why do chiropractors and medical doctors hate each other? That is the biggest misconception between the two professions. Not all chiropractors hate medical doctors, and not all medical doctors hate chiropractors. Unfortunately, not all chiropractors or medical doctors will agree with us, but on average, the two professions are cordial and sometimes refer patients to one another.
The reason why this is a big misconception is because chiropractors don’t think that using drugs, surgery, or steroid injections are the best course of treatment. Chiropractors are anti-drug or anti-surgery. That is another big misconception. Not all chiropractors are against drugs or surgery. We recognize that there is a need for drugs or surgery. If someone has a severe infection or disease, of course they need medicine. If someone has no hip joints, than yes, they will need hip surgery, or if something is wrong with the heart, they need surgery.
For years, medical doctors bashed chiropractors, but can you blame them? Chiropractors are no better. Chiropractors jumped right into the healthcare pool and started saying there is no need for medicine or surgery for any condition, but that’s wrong. In many circumstances, there is a need for deeper intervention.
Rather than battling over who is better, it’s time to work together as a team and co-treat patients. Referring patients back and forth shows that the professions are beginning to work together as a network. It’s not a matter of who is the better provider, but rather, getting to know each patient’s case, perform an appropriate exam, and successfully treat the patient.
We hope that this week’s blog was insightful and cleared up some of the stereotypes between chiropractic and medical doctors. If you have any questions about this week’s content, please call us at (724) 547-3377 and check out our website at www.drlarrywilkinsspinalcare.com for more content.
Yours In Health,
Larry E. Wilkins, DC
Brian M. Steinert, DC