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why do medical doctors not like chiropractors?

Why Do Medical Doctors Not Like Chiropractors? [Hint: Not True!]

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Millions of people every year seek out chiropractic treatment for musculoskeletal pain disorders such as back pain, neck pain, arthritis, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, and more. Chiropractic care is a proven non pharmaceutical method of relieving pain and improving quality of life.

Unfortunately, there are common beliefs of “bad blood” between Doctors of Chiropractic (DC’s) and Medical Doctors (MD’s), but in the modern era of chiropractic care these outdated beliefs are simply not true.

In recent years the chiropractic profession has gained increasing acceptance from the medical community. Especially in areas such as primary care, where integrated clinics that combine specialties of multiple different disciplines to give patients the best possible care are becoming more common. The vast majority of medical doctors now recognize and accept the effectiveness of chiropractic treatments as a solution to numerous musculoskeletal pain symptoms, that does not involve medications or surgery.

So, why do medical doctors not like chiropractors?

This idea of a turf war in modern times between the two professions is simply not true.

Although the chiropractic community is widely accepted in modern day medicine, this was not always the case. Chiropractors faced numerous struggles from the time that it emerged as a profession, until it had become commonly accepted. 

Founding of Chiropractic Studies

The field of chiropractic first emerged from the work of D.D. Palmer in the late 1800’s, as an alternative treatment option that did no involve surgery or medication. Palmer viewed the body as a “machine” comprised of various moving parts, which could be manipulated to help reduce pain. 

When chiropractic care started to gain traction among patients and their communities, this resulted in a clash between those who called themselves “Chiropractors” and medical doctors who went by “Osteopaths”. Even those these two groups had very similar notions about their treatment methodologies and used spinal manipulation as a way to improve health and reduce joint dysfunction, they did not see eye to eye.

If you would like to learn more about the history of chiropractic care, please check out our article “History of Chiropractic“. 

At the time, Osteopaths sought out to eliminate chiropractors all together, and created new legislation that outlawed chiropractic as it was seen as a “bastardized form of osteopathy”. Under this new law, many chiropractors ended up being jailed for practicing without a medical license. 

In 1907, a landmark court case in Wisconsin found that osteopathic and chiropractic were truly different, which set the precedent for the chiropractic profession to evolve into what it is today. In response to these osteopathy laws and a new precedent set in court, chiropractors were allowed to obtain a separate licensing status beginning in 1913, which became recognized in 50 states by 1974. 

These early differences in treatment methodologies and legal battles set the stage for past struggles between Medical Doctors and Doctors of Chiropractic. 

American Medical Association Lawsuit

In 1976 a law suite was filed against the AMA and other prominent medical groups by Chester Wilk, D.C. and a handful of other chiropractors. The basis of the lawsuit claimed that the defendants participated in an illegal conspiracy to destroy the chiropractic care profession. 

After 11 years of litigation, in 1987, the federal appellate court reached a ruling. They found the AMA guilty of engaging in a “lengthy, systematic, successful and unlawful boycott” designed to restrict cooperation between MD’s and DC’s with the ultimate goal of eliminating chiropractic care as a competitor in the American health care system. 

As a result of the ruling, the AMA was required to stop any efforts to restrict the professional relationships of chiropractors and AMA members, in addition they were also ordered to notify there 275,000 member base of the courts decision. 

With the help of more research studies, the widespread recognition of the chiropractic profession has grown. Today, numerous medical doctors, health care organizations, and hospitals have included chiropractic services into their model of care as a highly effective treatment for a wide range of musculoskeletal pain symptoms. 

Today, the AMA actually recommends that patients who are recommended surgery for lower back pain should try a more conservative course of care first such as chiropractic manipulation therapy. This is because surgery has no guarantee of results, and chiropractic has been proven in numerous research studies to effectively reduce lower back pain while offering very low risk to the patient. 

Differences In Treatment Approaches

One of the major differences between medical care and chiropractic manipulation are the methods involved in helping patients. Chiropractic methods focus on the entire body addressing the root cause of musculoskeletal pain symptoms. This is done through manual mobilizations and manipulations as well as education on proper stretching and exercises to help improve the range of motion and strengthen the body.

When a patient sees a medical doctor for musculoskeletal pain symptoms, this often results in being prescribed pain medications which only cover up the symptoms instead of tackling the root cause. Of course, every patient is different and pain meds may be the best course of care for a specific patients diagnosis and desired outcomes.

Another important consideration with painkillers is that not all patients are well suited for this type of treatment. Individuals who have a history of stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, binge drink, or are pregnant choose to stay clear of pain medications due to potentially harmful side effects. In addition to health issues, patients who operate machinery or drive automobiles for work should not be taking muscle relaxers while working. For people who fit into these categories, a non medication based pain management solution may be the best choice for positive patient outcomes.

Regardless of the treatment approach that is used, whether a patient is seeing a Medical Doctor or Doctor of Chiropractic, the most important thing is that the treatment is right for the patient and progress is being made towards their goals. 

Do Chiropractors "Only Treat The Spine"?

One of the most common misbeliefs that has been perpetuated about chiropractic care is that the spine is the only part of the body that chiropractors treat. In reality, spinal manipulation is only one of the many tools that chiropractors utilize to reduce pain in their patients. 

In addition to spinal pain, chiropractic care is also excellent for headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, sciatica, disc injuries, arthritis, degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease, whiplash injuries, ligament sprains, sciatica, and plantar fasciitis. 

When treating numerous types os musculoskeletal conditions they use techniques such as: chiropractic manipulation, exercise instruction, neuromuscular re-education, dry needling, cupping, myofascial release, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, and kinesio taping. 

Chiropractic Myths

Besides past legal struggles and differences in treatment approaches, there are many myths floating around about chiropractic care that are simply not true. We often hear common myths from new patients and those who are not experienced with chiropractic care. Some of the most common chiropractic myths that are perpetuated include:

  • Seeing a chiropractor means you will be locked into a long and expensive treatment plan – This approach is used by some chiropractors, but at South Pointe Chiropractic our goal is to address the root cause of our patients problem in as little time as possible.
  • Chiropractors are dangerous – One of the most common myths is that chiropractic care is not safe, when in reality it is a very low risk and highly effective treatment method for musculoskeletal pain. Compared to medical doctors, chiropractors malpractice insurance rates are up to 10x lower which shows that chiropractic is far less risky than traditional medical care. 

If you would like to learn about more chiropractic myths, please check out our article Chiropractic Myths (7 Common Misconceptions).

Modern Relationships Between MD's & DC's

In modern day medicine the role of chiropractic care in the medical profession is growing rapidly. Many medical clinics have adapted an integrative and multidisciplinary approach to patient care that includes specialties such as: primary care, chiropractic, medical massage, physical rehabilitation, physical therapy, and mental health counseling. 

This unique structure allows patients to receive the best care possible that aligns with their goals and lifestyle, which results in desirable patients outcomes in regard to improving quality of life. 

South Pointe Chiropractic takes pride in being part of one of these unique setups in Lafayette, CO. Our chiropractors work in conjunction with primary care providers, massage therapists, and mental health counselors to give our patients the most effective treatment possible all from under the same roof. 

In addition to the wide range of specialties that our team provides, the level of communication between providers due to practicing at the same location is beneficial for patient outcomes. 

Are you looking for a Lafayette, CO chiropractor? If so, South Pointe Chiropractic should be your first choice. Feel free to give us a call at (720) 749-4712 to find out how we can help improve you quality of life today. 

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