Misconception: Chiropractors treat back pain and little else.
Nothing could be further from the truth. While chiropractic adjustments can be especially helpful in relieving pain for facet joint injuries, osteoarthritis, and sacroiliac joint dysfunction, scores of patients with chronic headaches, sinus problems, high blood pressure, ear infections, leg pain, arthritis, and many other illnesses have reported significant relief after chiropractic therapy. Chiropractors do more than manipulate the musculoskeletal parts of the body, and are capable of providing a myriad of services that include acupuncture, electric muscle stimulation, exercise programs and instruction, heat/cold therapy, herbal therapy, lifestyle and nutrition counseling, manipulation under anesthesia, massage, physical rehabilitation, physiotherapy, stress management, traction, and ultrasound.
Misconception: Chiropractors prescribe medications to relieve pain and perform surgery, when needed.
Chiropractors believe that many ailments can be corrected if the body’s interrelated bone, nerve and vascular systems are in balance, allowing the body to heal itself. A branch of the healing arts concerned with disease processes, chiropractic care is a recognized form of therapy that focuses on improving your overall health and well-being-without the use of drugs or surgery.
Misconception: Those who undergo spinal manipulation are at high risk of injury.
In general, proper chiropractic treatment of your body’s lumbar, or lower back, region, involves very little risk, and the rewards can be significant. In fact, a recent study by the Rand Corporation found that a serious adverse reaction from cervical (neck) manipulation may occur less than once in 1 million treatments. The American Chiropractic Association believes those odds are even greater-about one in every 2 million treatments-the same odds of dying in a commercial airline crash. A more recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found only a 1-in-5.85-million risk that a chiropractic adjustment of the neck may result in vertebral artery dissection.
Misconception: Chiropractors are not viewed as being in the medical mainstream.
The medical community today formally recognizes the value of chiropractic care, and medical doctors routinely acknowledge chiropractic care as a conservative treatment option for patients with lower back pain. Moreover, many medical doctors recognize a chiropractic diagnosis and accept it as the first line of treatment for functional disorders of the entire musculoskeletal system. The prestigious Texas Back Institute (TBI), the largest freestanding spine specialty clinic in the country, once included only surgeons and other medical doctors among its staff. In the late 1980s, the Institute hired its first doctor of chiropractic. Today, close to half of the Institute’s patients see a chiropractor first when beginning their treatment. The National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and the successful Complementary and Alternative Medicine Center at the National Institutes of Health have established chiropractic internship programs.
Misconception: Chiropractic care is generally unsafe and ineffective.
Numerous studies throughout the world have shown that chiropractic treatment, including manipulative therapy and spinal adjustment, is both safe and effective for back pain. In 1994, the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research published its Clinical Practice Guidelines, which asserted that spinal manipulation was effective in reducing pain and speeding recovery among patients with acute low back symptoms without radiculopathy (nerve roots exit the spine and enter the body; if one of these roots is sick or injured in the area where it leaves the spine, it is called a radiculopathy). A 1996 study in the journal Spine echoed that study, and found that patients who sought chiropractic care were more likely to feel that treatment was helpful, more likely to be satisfied with their care, and less likely to seek care from another provider for the same condition, compared to those who sought care from medical doctors.