Inside Chiropractic Philosophy

I want to share some insights into differences within chiropractic philosophy. Being a chiropractor and caring about my colleagues, the purpose of this post is not to run down anyone’s philosophy. However, I am not ashamed of our profession and I think that it would help many people to understand the differences between chiropractors. There are very distinct differences between chiropractors. In some ways, those differences make us (my profession) weaker by not providing a clear understanding of what chiropractic really is all about. Perhaps in some ways we’d be better off if we all did the same thing. It would certainly be less confusing to the general public. It would be much simpler to say this is what a chiropractor is and this is exactly what all chiropractors do. Our message to the world gets confusing and watered down because we don’t have a unified voice.

But would it be better for everyone if all chiropractors were the same? I don’t think so. Different people have different needs. We as people are not machines that came off an assembly line. Even standards for what’s “normal”, such as a body temperature, etc., are more averages than exactly what’s right for each individual. Not only do needs differ, but so do levels of understanding, philosophical backgrounds, etc. If we were to standardize all chiropractic care — all doing the same tests, the same treatments in the same way, which approach would we choose? Who’s to say exactly which one is right? Not only do patients need different kinds of care depending on their unique circumstances, but the philosophy and technique must also fit the doctor. Attitudes, beliefs, size and strength all play a part in each chiropractor’s decision on what technique they will primarily practice.

When I first started in practice, we used to talk about “straights” vs. “mixers”. A straight chiropractor only did chiropractic adjustments, whereas a mixer would add other things such as nutrition and so forth. I usually don’t hear those terms any more. One of the main distinctions that I see these days is that of wellness vs. pain doctors. Pain-oriented chiropractors don’t usually identify themselves as such, but that is their focus. I am a wellness chiropractor. It’s not so much whether I use nutritional supplements or physical therapy or other adjunctive methods. The main thing that distinguishes a wellness chiropractor from others is that we’re not strictly orthopedic. We want to relieve pain and restore joint function as much as anyone else. However, we see chiropractic as much more.

Since the body is self-healing and self-regulating, and since the nervous system controls and regulates all parts and processes of the body, it stands to reason that if a vertebral subluxation (small misalignment in the spine) can interfere with the full proper functioning of the nervous system, then reducing that subluxation through chiropractic adjustments can improve health. This is not some snake oil approach. We don’t claim that chiropractic can cure everything. In fact, I maintain that chiropractic doesn’t cure anything. It’s the body that heals itself. The purpose of the chiropractic adjustment is to remove or reduce interference so the body can take care of itself.

Although what I’ve just stated is the foundation of chiropractic as set forth by its founders, not all chiropractors see it that way. There is not even agreement between all chiropractors as to what constitutes a subluxation. So are the differences between chiropractors in both technique and philosophy a strength or a weakness? It would make our message much clearer if we all saw it the same way, but then we wouldn’t be able to appeal to such a large number of people. If you don’t like the experience you’ve had a with a chiropractor, chances are there’s another one down the street with a different approach that may fit you better. However, if you’re like most people, your experience with them has been very positive.


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