Why are you REALLY scared to go to a chiropractor?
Updated: Feb 21
Most people that have never been to a chiropractor before have a deep and visceral fear about it. They don't really understand why, but they know that they once heard that uncle Joe's cousin's cat's best friend was paralyzed by one, so they will never take the chance. But what if I told you there was a REAL reason you are scared? And what if I told you that you were scared on PURPOSE so that you would never think of stepping foot into a chiropractic office? Well, friends, let me take you on a trip down history lane and teach you a little bit about the politics of chiropractic history.
In the Beginning
Now, first let me say that this is in no way an extensive and fully detailed history of chiropractic, because lets be real, we have 125 years of history since the first chiropractic adjustment, and as they say, "aint no one got time for that!" So this will be the cole's notes version, and if you are so inclined to read more, I will link some great books that can wet that research whistle of yours. But for now, let me give you the quick and dirty.
The first chiropractic adjust ever given by "old man chiro", aka DD Palmer, was in 1895 on a janitor that was deaf in 1 ear from a fall that happened years prior. DD Palmer was a cool and interesting cat that had a pretty interesting and eclectic past. He was a self taught anatomist and physiologist, and a practicing magnetic healer at the time. I will get into this part in much more detail in later posts; however, magnetic healing, as done by the famous Franz Mesmer was the basis of the foundation of chiropractic, along with extensive anatomical knowledge and a heavy dose of occult/esoteric scientific and spiritual texts. But before you go calling us chiros "Witch Doctors", consider the fact that Sir Isaac Newton, you know, the father of Newtonian physics, and many other scientists such as Albert Einstein, Francis Bacon, Michael Talbot, Tesla, Thomas Edison...wait... actually it is a bit hard to name them all because the list includes almost every single influential scientist literally since ever, and they ALL studied occult and esoteric texts, which is where they were inspired to think up the ideas that have shaped and moulded our current foundation of science- and our way of understanding reality. These factors being the basis of chiropractic philosophy is why it is actually one of the most timeless and complete philosophies and understandings of the human body and nature of any currently practiced healing science today... but i'll get into that in MUCH greater detail in another post soon. For now, back to the politics.
So this first adjustment on the deaf janitor within 48 hours restored the hearing in this man's ear. And that was the birth of chiropractic. From that point on, chiropractic began to grow and evolve. It was originally designed as a health and healing modality which was used to fight off and combat any and all forms of dis-ease, because it was, (and still is, but has been actively forgotten) based on a premise that your brain and nervous system run and manage your entire body. In order for your body to work effectively and efficiently it must be able to communicate properly from one cell to the next, and one system to the next. The entire body is based on positive and negative feedback loops that require PROPER FEEDBACK to work, well, properly. Your nervous system is the conductor and interpreter of these messages, and when there is interference in the relay of the feedback, there is an inaccurate response from the body. This is how disease is formed. Disease is simply dis-ease in an area of the body due to inaccurate messages and incorrect responses, leading to an inability to adapt. Think of being a Footlocker owner and ordering 10 pairs of Yeezy sneakers, but the factory gets the order and thinks it said 1 instead. You receive 1 pair from fed-ex, and then you have 9 pissed off customers that are forced to go somewhere else. This happens for long enough and you eventually would end up going out of business, aka die (not to be too dramatic) . This is an example of disruption of the nervous system and too little input. Now the other side of this is you order your 10 pair of stupidly-expensive-not-even-that-nice sneakers that the kids love these days, and the factory sees the order for 100 instead of 10. You get 100 in the mail, your stock room is overflowing and your accountant and store manager spend the next week trying to send them back, or balance your budget to make it work. This happens too many times and bam! Again, out of business. This is an example of too much input. Too much or too little were both a result of a miscommunication. This visual helps prove the point that the body is a system based upon very precise balances, and communication is the fuckin boss that keeps it all in check. Shitty communication = Shitty function.
So, using this overall premise (notice that it has NOTHING TO DO WITH BACK PAIN OR NECK PAIN), chiropractors began treating all kinds of people with all kinds of ailments, however they adamantly maintained that they were not TREATING anything, they were simply removing interference and letting the body communicate and heal itself. (Still the main tenant of true principled chiropractors) . Unfortunately for the medical doctors at the time, they were actually having pretty damn good success as well. So much so, that it became a thorn in the side of the local doctors across all of the United States, and chiropractors began being arrested and jailed for practicing "medicine" without a licence. This went on for years, but these badass beasts of the industry were un-phased and continued to practice regardless of how many times they were jailed. There was even one particular badass of a boss that was rumoured to have been jailed over 1000 times himself. Turns out, he was such a boss that when he would be locked up, he just began adjusting all the inmates and prison guards, which resulted in him being treated pretty damn good in there, so every time he left they told him he could no longer adjust anyone - he didn't listen- and back to jail vacation he went.
Anywho, after this went on for a few years there was a court case in which a few chiropractors were being criminally prosecuted for the same charges as stated above, but those chiropractors actually decided to stand up for themselves and fight to prove that chiropractic was a separate entity and practice than medicine. How did they do that? By showing that we focus on the function of the NERVOUS SYSTEM, and used our philosophy to demonstrate our belief in the importance of proper nerve communication- which at that time, was not a tenant of medicine. Interesting side note, Osteopathic medicine in it's origin was founded on a somewhat similar philosophy; however, they proposed that it was blood flow that was more important to focus on than nerve transmission. Again, I will go into this comparison in much greater detail in a future post. So, once our philosophy and principles were clearly defined, guess what? Those fuckers won against the courts and that was the day that the LEGAL distinction of Chiropractic was made.
So now that chiros were free and recognized as their own distinct medical practice, they should have been left to go out and serve the public and treat whoever they wanted, right? Wrong. The American Medical Association was uber pissed and still loathed the profession because they were now free to treat whoever they wanted, and guess who was making sick people well without drugs, surgery, leeches, or lobotomy's? The badass chiropractors. These Doctors were treating everything from the plague and the flu, to mental conditions (there were actually 3 chiropractic specific mental asylums open in the 1950's- and they all were getting higher success rates of intervention than the medically ran asylums in the same areas, but were eventually bullied and forced to shut down). So what do you do when someone is out there stealing your piece of the pie and taking your patients away by actually getting them WELL so they do not need your drugs or surgeries?! Obviously you create a politically sanctioned smear campaign to deface and discredit them. Ps. This technique is still very active today.
During this time the American Medical Association created a ban on the chiropractic association from any and all medical doctors and institutions- meaning that if I had a sister and she became a medical doctor, she could no longer be in communication with me or she would lose her licence. This also meant that part of the medical school curriculum was dedicated to spreading false information and negative beliefs towards chiropractic. For over 80 years there was an active campaign of propaganda created specifically to discredit chiropractic and scare anyone with half a brain away from seeing one. Patients who were going to chiropractors and taking their kids could not tell their medical doctors or they were banned from their care and had to find a new doctor. This is the beautifully crafted load of bullshit that brought you all of the rumours and hear-say stories about chiropractic that are still perpetuated today, and the BASIS of your inherent fears. The terms stroke, paralyze, quack, and charlatans, and "not real doctors" were all purposefully attributed and linked to chiropractors. Fake stories were spread and distributed to the media, and fake information was spread through all medical institutions. Medical school taught all the up and coming doctors that chiropractors were"not real doctors" and that we murder people every year and to stay absolutely as far away from them as possible, making us not even a consideration for a last hope effort, but instead opted for extremely invasive spinal fusion surgeries and high dose pain killers to treat patient's problems. Currently, this is still the go-to methods of medical practice for treatments of spinal related problems, (and the reason your orthopedic surgeon will never recommend you try a chiropractor first is because that results in thousands of dollars taken directly out of their pocket). This continued with violent intensity until the great day on August 24, 1987 when ten chiropractors sued the American Medical Association for illegal conspiracy to destroy chiropractic through the starting and spreading of misinformation and false accusations, where they proved that the stories and myths they were spreading were completely fabricated, and there was in fact zero evidence to support any of them. This was a true David vs. Goliath story in which the few stood up against the medical machine and, again, they won. But unfortunately, the damage was already done, and even though it is now technically illegal to spread these defaming myths, they are still very much active in current times and many of those doctors who were in medical school back in those days are still in practice, and still hold vehemently to those beliefs, and aren't afraid to tell their patient's what they think.
This is the basis of the fear that you feel when you think of a chiropractor, and the reason that you aren't really sure why, but you are just scared to go to one (even though people have no issue having a gross and non-specific "manipulation" done by a much lesser trained (in the technique) physiotherapist, massage therapist, or medical doctor (side note to my physiotherapist and massage friends and colleagues, I absolutely love and respect what you do, however do believe that "manual manipulations" should be referred to a chiropractor to perform a specific adjustment instead, just like I believe that a chiropractor should be referring to a more qualified and trained muscle therapist such as yourselves to get IMS, needling, or soft tissue work done. We are all completely necessary, but I would rather be amazing at one thing, than ok at 20- just my belief), and the reason you inherently think chiropractors are not "real" doctors. It is because you have been consciously or sub-consciously influenced by a 80 year campaign specifically targeted to make you feel that way.
But, do you want to know what is absolutely boss as fuck? Even though this happened, and even though still to this day we are public enemy #1 of big pharma and the corrupt medical lobbyists- we are still here, and still GROWING. We are officially the 3rd largest and most used medical modality, following Dentistry. So when you wonder why people who come to a chiropractor seem to love it as much as they do, and why people would take their families to them in secret, or why chiropractors were willing to be jailed over and over and over to fight for their profession.. well, its because not only does it WORK. Like REALLY WELL, but it is also extremely safe. Do you know what I pay for malpractice insurance every year? $720. Do you know what a general practitioner medical doctor pays that rarely ever even touches a patient? $7500. If we were hurting people, don't you think insurance companies would be charging us a shit ton more?
So despite the adversity, and despite the fact that at least once a week I still have a new patient come in the office and tell me they don't "believe" in chiropractic, or that they are terrified to be there. We are still out here helping sick people get well, safely, and effectively, and consistently. And I still think I am in the best damn profession in the entire world.
Ps. Hollywood has done us no favours either, but believe me, it is a lot harder to break someones neck by rotating it than the action hero's make it look! Also another topic for a later post... Stay tuned!
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