The True Story of Chiropractic Part 2- Its Challenges

By Richard J. Davis, DC

In the first article in this three-part series we learned that chiropractic has been used as a healing art since the time of Hippocrates, around 400BC and was re-born in this country in 1895. We learned that doctors of chiropractic are licensed physicians who practice a number of non-pharmaceutical, non-surgical healing methods.  Seeing a chiropractor in addition to a medical doctor often can be a better approach to health care than relying on conventional medicine alone.


Just how good is this combination of doctors? Here are the results of three studies:

#1. The U.S. Department of Defense showed in a five year study at thirteen locations that military personnel who saw doctors of chiropractic in addition to doctors of medicine got better faster, at 48% less cost than those who did not see doctors of chiropractic.

#2.  A review of data on over five million Medicare recipients showed that those who saw doctors of chiropractic experienced 59% less cost for all of their health care than those who did not see doctors of chiropractic.


#3.  With doctors of chiropractic serving as the first doctors seen (gatekeepers in an HMO), a seven year study showed high patient satisfaction and 70% lower total health care costs than those who saw doctors of medicine first.  These dramatic savings came from far less use of prescription medications, and a much lower rate of hospitalization.

What is the difference between chiropractic and conventional medicine?


Chiropractic focuses on helping the body’s natural healing process.  Conventional medicine uses drugs and surgery to do for the body what it is not doing for itself.  You might say that Chiropractic treats from the inside and conventional medicine treats from the outside.  Conventional medicine is best for acute, life-threatening problems, while chiropractic is more effective for prevention and treatment of certain chronic conditions, and for musculoskeletal pain.


What challenges face chiropractic?

Unfortunately the field of health care, as well as being a humane art, is a business – a big business.  Conventional medicine became perceived as the only real method of healing, primarily through actions taken to discredit and ban other forms.  This did not originate from the doctors themselves, but from their trade associations, and from the pharmaceutical industry.  In the early days of chiropractic in this country doctors of chiropractic were jailed for practicing “medicine” without a medical license.  Schools in the U.S. that taught healing with homeopathic remedies were forced to close. Osteopaths were badgered to stop using “alternative methods” and stay with drugs and surgery. Eventually chiropractors brought suit, and in 1981 the Supreme Court found the AMA and other institutions guilty of attempting to eliminate chiropractic by presenting false claims about its safety and effectiveness.


What will be in the next issue?   What is the future of chiropractic?


Dr. Richard J. Davis is an honor graduate of Logan College of Chiropractic, and served on the Logan Board of Trustees and on other boards and committees, always supporting the chiropractic profession.  He founded and operated a successful private practice in St. Louis until his (semi) retirement in 2009. Dr. Richard J. Davis’ email: chiro94@aol.com.