Addressing Common Misconceptions and Controversies Surrounding Chiropractic in Owatonna
A special thanks to Josh Burnham, D.C., an Owatonna, MN Chiropractor, for providing this article.
The chiropractic profession has steadily advanced in its philosophy, science, and art since its humble beginnings in 1895. Daniel David Palmer adjusted Harvey Lillard who was the first chiropractic patient. He was the janitor of the building that housed Palmer’s office. Lillard was describing to Palmer how he felt a pop in his back from an injury several years back which resulted in him developing hardness of hearing. Palmer reasoned that if he was able to reposition the bone that had popped then Lillard’s hearing should be restored. He was able to convince Lillard to be examined and the first chiropractic adjustment was performed. Lillard’s hearing was improved following the adjustment and the profession of chiropractic was born. To Palmer’s disappointment, he later discovered that his supposed miracle cure for deafness did not work on other patients presenting with hearing loss. This began the decades-long battle of learning about and explaining the widely variable results obtained through chiropractic care.
It always surprises people to learn how chiropractic care began with a case that involved hearing loss. This is largely due to the assumption that chiropractic care is specifically tailored to solely alleviating complaints that are neuromusculoskeletal in origin. The public understands chiropractors can help alleviate their neck pain, low back pain, mid back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, ankle pain, wrist pain, jaw pain, etc. What is less clear is how chiropractic can also help conditions that are not neuromusculoskeletal in nature. Yet, patients through the decades have described how they have been able to be helped with infantile colic, asthma, acid reflux, reproductive dysfunction, ulcerative colitis, constipation, multiple sclerosis, etc. What is unclear to the public is how chiropractic care can help conditions that aren’t related to aches and pains because the connection between the organ and the spine is not well established in public education.
The disconnect between chiropractic and organ function is one of the many misconceptions and mischaracterizations of chiropractic care. The reality of it is that chiropractic care does not help these conditions through direct treatment. Rather, all the benefits that are a result of chiropractic care come from secondary effects. This concept is what took time in chiropractic to develop within its philosophy. The primary cause of the need for the chiropractor is a condition called a vertebral subluxation. A vertebral subluxation is a condition in which adjoining bones have lost their proper anatomical relationship, which results in the deformation of the joints and ligaments surrounding these bones. A consequence of the changes to the joints and ligaments is pressure and stretch being exerted upon delicate nerve tissue that enters and exits the spine at numerous locations. This nerve tissue is what relays information to and from the brain. This information is how the body coordinates itself and adapts to stress. A breakdown in this information from pressure and stretch in the nerve tissue is what can produce or contribute to the symptoms and conditions which present to the chiropractor’s office. In a general sense, chiropractic care helps address one of the principal causes of reduced health and quality of life. By reducing anatomical derangements surrounding the nervous system the chiropractor can improve the patient’s ability to adapt to stress and resist disease.
With this misconception arises another misconception concerning chiropractic which is that patients must continue chiropractic care for the remainder of their lives. This is simply not true. The benefits of an adjustment are transient; however, so are the benefits of taking medications. Yet, nobody decries the practice of medicine because they tell their patients to take pills for the rest of their lives. Chiropractic patients vary widely on how they utilize chiropractic care throughout the remainder of their lives. Some patients choose to never darken the doors of a chiropractic office again. Others decide to come back when they are in pain. Still, some patients recognize how much better their body functions and feels while they maintain their chiropractic adjustments, so they elect to continue utilizing chiropractic services on an indefinite basis. This is an individual decision people make concerning their health. It is the chiropractor’s duty to assist the patient in their understanding of what decisions are in their best interest and in the best interests of their families.
Personally, I have enjoyed the benefits of regular chiropractic adjustments since I was an undergraduate freshman in 2013. Being adjusted is the reason I became a chiropractor. I choose to have my wife and children adjusted on a regular basis. I make these decisions because I believe that chiropractic care is a part of my strategy for maintaining health and good quality of life. Much in the same way regular exercise, proper diet, adequate hydration, and sufficient sleep are integral to living a lifestyle of health and well-being. Chiropractic care is a natural complement to virtually any type of healthcare strategy, and that’s what makes it unique and amazing.
By Dr. Josh Burnham, D.C.