10 Interesting Facts About Chiropractic

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on , Last Updated on

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Therapeutic spinal manipulation has existed for at least 2500 years and chiropractic care as we know it today began over a hundred years ago. Since that time, it’s gained recognition worldwide as an effective form of medical care. Patient satisfaction is typically very high and studies have shown that, compared to conventional medical care, chiropractic is more safe and financially feasible. It’s no surprise that many people enjoy chiropractic coverage through their insurance and it’s even offered to men and women serving in the military. [1]

Clearly, chiropractic is accepted, widely used, and familiar to most people. It’s also a profession in which a number of interesting footnotes have come to exist. Let’s take a look at a few of the lesser-known facts about chiropractic.

1. May Help Torture Survivors

Torture and trauma are real horrors that can cause survivors to experience pain, depression, PTSD, and other horrible, long-term problems. Could a wellness approach help to make them well? It seems so. The Boston University School of Public Health reports that some forms of complementary and alternative medicine such as meditation, massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic may be effective as part of a comprehensive approach for treating survivors of torture and trauma. [2]

2. Chiropractic is Worldwide

Chiropractic is popular all over the world. Although the chiropractic profession was founded in the United States in 1895, spinal manipulation has a long history of use in China. [3] By the 1960’s it spread to Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. It’s more recently extended across Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Australia. [4] [5] In fact, in Australia, one in four adults have consulted with a chiropractor and nearly 40% of the elderly population rely on complementary and alternative medicine like chiropractic. [6] [7]

3. The Paper Sheet Really Works

If you think about it, the average chiropractor’s table probably comes in contact with as many people as the average park bench. As such, hygiene standards are important to make sure the facilities do not become a petri dish of disgusting pathogens. [8] In 2011, the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College evaluated the cleanliness of area chiropractic clinics and found that, while bacteria was a valid concern, most chiropractors were proactive with disinfection and the paper sheet used to cover the table headpieces was an effective barrier. [9] Make sure your chiropractor has their table cleaned and sanitized between each visit!

4. The Amish Like Chiropractic Too

The Amish may reject many of the modern “conveniences” many of us enjoy, but there is no denying that they have somewhat of a reputation for embracing a robust, natural approach to maintaining good health — an approach that is quite similar to wellness. It’s no surprise that this has lead to an acceptance of complementary and alternative medicine in the Amish community. A few years ago, the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine conducted a survey of Amish women concerning their use of CAM and reported that thirty-six percent used nutritional supplements, herbal therapies, and chiropractic medicine. [10]

5. Chiropractors Do it Better

It’s not uncommon for an adjustment to produce an almost orgasmic moan of relief. If you’ve ever had a kink in your neck that a chiropractor was able to remedy, you know what I’m talking about. It begs the question, why does it feel so good? Well, in addition to unpinching pinched nerves, realigning the misaligned, and generally guiding things back where they need to be, manipulation stimulates muscular and tendon sensory receptors to produce an excitatory effect on the central nervous system. [11]

6. Sometimes the Healers Need Healing

Being a chiropractor can be physically demanding and there are times when performing an adjustment requires you to throw your back into it. Unfortunately, chiropractors aren’t immune to throwing their back out. In 2006, the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic surveyed 1000 United States chiropractors to determine what work-related injuries they’ve experienced. Respondents said that the most common affected their hand, shoulder, and lower back and occurred while performing an adjustment or positioning a patient. Giving credence to experience, it was also found that most injuries occurred in the first five years of practice. [12]

7. Female Chiropractors Can Hold Their Own

As said, being a chiropractor can present physical demands and performing an adjustment can require a lot of thrust. This has led some, not myself, to squint their eyes and wonder if smaller-framed female chiropractors can cut the mustard. Well guys, fear not. When researchers at the University of Victoria pitted the abilities of 14 male chiropractors against 14 female chiropractors, they found that female chiropractors are just as able as their male colleagues. [13]

8. A Little More Diversity Would be Nice

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that the average chiropractic patient in 2008 was white, female, of higher income, and residing in a small metro area. [14] And, although Medicare covers chiropractic care, the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice found that from 2002-2008, 97% of Medicare-covered recipients of chiropractic care were white. [15]

Why is this? Everyone can benefit from chiropractic. I would really love to hear some feedback — what can the chiropractic industry do to attract a more accurate sampling of our diverse American population?

9. Don’t Let Your Untrained Friend Adjust You

“Hey dude! Will you pop my back?” Have you ever heard someone say that? Worse, have you ever said it? Worse yet, have you been the one to do the popping? Stop it! Proper chiropractic care involves more than a few simple motions and manipulation is only safe when performed by someone who has received the necessary training. Chiropractic is not monkey-see, monkey-do! Do you need proof? In 2001, a man in India developed severe spinal cord and brainstem problems after receiving an adjustment from a barber. [16] That’s just one example. Bad idea.

10. One of the Most Successful Chiropractors Ever was Blind

Vision impairment does not make a person incapable, and a fantastic example of that was Dr. Charles Robinson Johnson. In 1918, when he was 39, Dr. Johnson graduated from the Palmer School of Chiropractic and became the first blind chiropractor, and one of the most successful. For over 25 years he practiced in Peekskill, New York and had a well traveled reputation as a miracle healer, seeing hundreds of patients each week. The newspapers even called him, “The Man Who Made Peekskill Famous.” Quite an achievement for someone born in a mining camp! [17]

References (17)
  1. DeVocht JW. History and overview of theories and methods of chiropractic: a counterpoint. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2006 Mar;444:243-9.
  2. Longacre M, Silver-Highfield E, Lama P, Grodin M. Complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of refugees and survivors of torture: a review and proposal for action. Torture. 2012;22(1):38-57.
  3. Chapman-Smith DA. Legislative approaches to the regulation of the chiropractic profession. Med Law. 1997;16(3):437-49.
  4. Li YK, Zhong SZ. Spinal manipulation in China. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1998 Jul-Aug;21(6):399-401.
  5. Assendelft WJ, Pfeifle CE, Bouter LM. Chiropractic in The Netherlands: a survey of Dutch chiropractors. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1995 Mar-Apr;18(3):129-34.
  6. Xue CC, Zhang AL, Lin V, Myers R, Polus B, Story DF. Acupuncture, chiropractic and osteopathy use in Australia: a national population survey. BMC Public Health. 2008 Apr 1;8:105. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-8-105.
  7. Zhang AL, Xue CC, Lin V, Story DF. Complementary and alternative medicine use by older Australians. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2007 Oct;1114:204-15.
  8. Bifero AE, Prakash J, Bergin J. The role of chiropractic adjusting tables as reservoirs for microbial diseases. Am J Infect Control. 2006 Apr;34(3):155-7.
  9. Puhl AA, Reinhart CJ, Puhl NJ, Selinger LB, Injeyan HS. An investigation of bacterial contamination on treatment table surfaces of chiropractors in private practice and attitudes and practices concerning table disinfection. Am J Infect Control. 2011 Feb;39(1):56-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2010.05.029.
  10. von Gruenigen VE, Showalter AL, Gil KM, Frasure HE, Hopkins MP, Jenison EL. Complementary and alternative medicine use in the Amish. Complement Ther Med. 2001 Dec;9(4):232-3.
  11. Pickar JG. Neurophysiological effects of spinal manipulation. Spine J. 2002 Sep-Oct;2(5):357-71.
  12. Holm SM, Rose KA. Work-related injuries of doctors of chiropractic in the United States. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2006 Sep;29(7):518-23.
  13. Forand D, Drover J, Suleman Z, Symons B, Herzog W. The forces applied by female and male chiropractors during thoracic spinal manipulation. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2004 Jan;27(1):49-56.
  14. Zodet MW, Stevans JM. The 2008 prevalence of chiropractic use in the US adult population. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2012 Oct;35(8):580-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2012.10.001.
  15. Whedon JM, Song Y. Racial disparities in the use of chiropractic care under Medicare. Altern Ther Health Med. 2012 Nov-Dec;18(6):20-6.
  16. Misra UK, Kalita J, Khandelwal D. Consequences of neck manipulation performed by a non-professional. Spinal Cord. 2001 Feb;39(2):112-3.
  17. Rehm WS. "The man who made Peekskill famous": Dr. C.R. Johnston--first blind chiropractor. Chiropr Hist. 1998 Dec;18(2):81-92.

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