“Chiropractors Aren't Real Doctors”
In the USA, a chiropractor must earn a bachelor’s degree and then go to graduate school to earn their Doctorate in Chiropractic for an additional 4 years (some programs are accelerated year-round for 3 years and 3 months). While we’re most certainly not medical doctors (much like your dentist or eye Doctor isn’t a primary care physician), we earned our doctorate degree in Chiropractic.
In fact, the beginning of our graduate schools are similar in training and we actually clock in more total classroom hours than the standard MD (except we don’t have a residency). Take a look at the photo above or this document comparing the Chiropractic curriculum vs. the medical school curriculum at Cleveland Chiropractic College in Kansas City. Notice how chiropractors take more hours in anatomy/physiology? This means we have a thorough understanding of the body and how it’s structured, which gives us the knowledge to safely work on muscles and perform adjustments (we’ll get into that in a second).
In addition to earning our doctorate degree, we must take 5 parts of board exams over the 4 years of graduate school, as well as a State Laws and Rules Exam in Florida. These board exams include 4 parts:
Part I: Basic Sciences- General anatomy, Spinal anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry, Pathology, and Microbiology
Part II: Clinical Sciences- General Diagnosis, Neuromusculoskeletal Diagnosis, Diagnostic Imaging, Principles of Chiropractic, Chiropractic Practice, Associated Clinical Sciences
Part III: Clinical Competency- Case History, Physical Examination, Neuromusculoskeletal Examination, Diagnostic Imaging, Clinical Laboratory and Special Studies, Diagnosis or Clinical Impression, Chiropractic Techniques, Supportive Interventions, Case Management
Part IV: Practical Skills Exam- Diagnostic Imaging (DIM) Chiropractic Technique, Case Management
Not exactly a walk in the park. We are not MDs, we can not prescribe medicine or do surgery. We can perform adjustments, recommend exercises, work on muscles, offer nutrition and lifestyle advice, and offer a holistic approach to pain that treats the whole body and the root of the problem, not just the symptom. In other words, for problems regarding the musculoskeletal system, we can actually help you avoid medication and surgery, and we receive extensive education on how to do so.
“Adjustments Aren't Safe/Chiropractic Care Isn’t Backed by Science”
UGH. This one is just…frustrating. Many different techniques and case studies have been researched with chiropractic care and the chiropractic care we provide in our office is 100% backed by science.
The American Chiropractic Association is committed to supporting and sharing evidence-based research about the safety and effectiveness of chiropractic treatments. You can head to the website to take a look at all the research behind the safety and effectiveness (there’s a TON) of chiropractic care. Something that stands out to me is this quote from the What Research Shows page:
“Patients who saw a chiropractor as their initial provider for low back pain (LBP) had 90% decreased odds of both early and long-term opioid use.”
- Kazis et al. (2019), BMJ Open
As I mentioned before; we can help you avoid things like medication that can later lead to dependency.
Fun Fact: A general practitioner’s malpractice insurance yearly premium is $7,500 a year and a chiropractor’s is only $1,200. This demonstrates that the risk of injury through chiropractic care is significantly less than that of a traditional medical doctor. Numbers don’t lie *shrug*. This should give you further confidence that you can see a chiropractor for treatment knowing that it’s safe and not dangerous.
“If You Go To a Chiropractor Once, You Have to Go Forever”
While this is most certainly not true, after coming to us for an injury or back/neck pain, many of our patients elect to continue coming in on a maintenance basis. Think of it like this: when you get a cavity, you have to get a filling. This fixes the problem, but then you continue going to the dentist on a maintenance basis to make sure your dental health is in tip top shape and prevent any further or more serious problems. Chiropractic care works in the same way. While you can certainly come in for just a few sessions, you get the biggest bang for your buck by routinely maintaining the care and adjustments we provide.
Much like exercise-and pretty much anything that’s good for you-consistency is key. Our patients know that self-care in the form of maintenance treatment is essential to keep them pain/injury free and feeling great. However, this can mean a frequency of anything from once a week, twice a month, or even once a month, it all depends on the patient and their lifestyle/health condition.
Anyway, I could go on. But I’ll leave you with this: chiropractors should be your first stop when it comes to pain management for things like scoliosis, back pain, neck pain, headaches or recovering from other musculoskeletal injuries like a car accident. If there’s a way to fix the problem without invasive measures like surgery or medication that can have side effects and form dependencies, isn’t it worth exploring? I’d say so.
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