Recently, I was interviewed for an article that appeared in the Toledo Blade on 8/14/22 titled “Chiropractors see themselves as adjuncts to mainstream medicine, not as competitors”. Below is the copy of that article. Click here to read my response to the article.
Chiropractors see themselves as adjuncts to mainstream medicine, not as competitors
Chiropractors offer natural solutions for pain management while helping patients meet health and wellness goals.
To administer pain relief they often “realign” or “adjust” the body, but what exactly does that mean?
“You can say that chiropractors realign the body, from a basic standpoint,” Bryan Royer, a Sylvania Township chiropractor said. “But chiropractic [treatment] isn’t just doing the adjustment even though that is the main part of it.”
Mr. Royer said he looks at what he does “more from the standpoint of bringing balance to the joints and making sure that they move correctly.”
While chiropractic examinations often include pushing on the body to make a “popping” noise, it’s more than that, he said.
A chiropractor can also help support proper muscle function, stretches and deep tissue massage.
Mickey Frame, a chiropractor who practices in West Toledo and Bowling Green, agreed that most people associate chiropractors with helping with low-back pain, headaches, and neck pain.
“But I’ve had a lot of success with a lot of extremity issues too, with people who have plantar fasciitis, or heel pain, shoulder pain, and different stuff like that,” Mr. Frame said, adding that he also offers acupuncture. “If family practice doctors would look to chiropractic first, they may see better results for the patient.”
Brandy Spaulding, Ohio State Chiropractic Association, executive director said in a prepared statement that chiropractors are primary care professionals trained to examine, diagnose, and provide conservative treatment options. She said they offer “a natural approach” to patient care of those looking for non-pharmaceutical pain management options for neck and back pain, headaches, and other neuro-musculoskeletal conditions, as well as a holistic approach to their overall health and wellness goals.
“Numerous studies support the efficacy of chiropractic, including favorable patient outcomes, cost-effectiveness, reduction of opioid use, and overall safety,” she said. “When appropriate, conservative care options should serve as a first-line approach.
“By focusing on the needs of the patient, it becomes less a question about whether our profession is receiving enough recognition, and more an educational opportunity about whether the needs of the patient are being met.”
Where to begin
Most patients find chiropractors through word-of-mouth as opposed to being referred by a medical doctor.
Mr. Royer said medical doctors usually would at best refer a patient to any chiropractor, as opposed to a concrete specialist. They also do it mostly just for lower-back pain, neck pain, or headaches, he said, and mostly only once medical treatment has had limited results.
But even if there hasn’t been much scientific research that would show the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for a certain condition, that doesn’t mean that chiropractors can’t help with it, for example with asthma, he said.
“If somebody has asthma, you can affect the muscles in the upper back and get them to relax,” he said. “And if you [also] can make the bones in the upper back move better, or the ribs in the upper back move better, people can end up taking layers off of an issue and breathe easier or maybe [even] make it so that the asthma isn’t quite as prevalent.”
Mr. Royer admitted that some chiropractors claim they can help in cases they know they can’t or extend the treatment over the time it actually takes to help.
“I do think that there are a couple of bad apples [among us] that are out there. And I think they tarnish the reputation of the whole profession,” he said.
A large part of why those “shady” chiropractors exist is because they are outside the managed care system, he said.
“If they had people that were sending them patients on a constant basis, and they didn’t have to worry about where the next patient was coming in, I think that some of them would be less likely to do some of the shady things that they do … like claiming to be doing something helping in situations when they don’t, or telling somebody to come in like three times a week for six months,” Mr. Royer said.
To find a reputable and conscientious chiropractor Mr. Royer recommends asking questions and making sure the chiropractor listens and understands your concerns.
“If you first come in and the chiropractor asks you like only three questions and then has you hop on the table to get adjusted, that wouldn’t be a good sign,” he said.
It also makes sense to ask around about chiropractors who specialize in the field associated with your problem, he said, adding that most chiropractors “have their little niche,” including some that prefer to deal with conditions associated with the spine, or those who practice acupuncture.
Mr. Royer, who had been practicing in the Toledo area since 2005, for example, specializes in sports medicine and functional neurology, while Mr. Frame, a 30-year practitioner, does a lot of sports and work-related injuries and uses acupuncture.
Both have four-year doctor of chiropractic degrees from schools that require a bachelor’s degree to be admitted.
Mr. Frame said he has seen the situation improve for the chiropractors over the years.
“Patients have become more positive [about chiropractic care] because of the internet and social media. They are more educated and there’s more awareness out there for chiropractic, so patients are looking to chiropractic first [before they see a medical doctor] more often than they did 30 years ago,” he said.
“The other thing is that 30 years ago I wasn’t able to refer a patient for an MRI, for example. Well, today I can. So things have opened up to allow us to [also] make more appropriate referrals for testing such as x-rays and MRIs.”
Along with a private practice in West Toledo, he is a chiropractic physician at Wood County Hospital’s Falcon Health Center, Bowling Green, and as such works in collaboration with medical doctors and physical therapists, which is a plus, he said.
“It’s been a really good collaboration of care for the patient,” he said. “The bottom line is what’s best for the patient, whether it’s chiropractic, whether it’s medical, whether it’s physical therapy.”