Like Their Chiropractors
like Stephen Rowe look for "subluxations" or subtle
abnormalities of the spine.
terms of patient satisfaction, Carey found that doctors of
chiropractic stood out. That might have something to do with
the fact that patients tend to see chiropractors frequently
- almost twice as often as any of the other kinds of practitioners.
Moreover, in their telephone interviews, patients told the
researchers that they felt doctors of chiropractic were more
likely to give an excellent description of why their back
hurt and more likely to give a detailed examination of their
think there is something fairly appealing about the explanatory
model that doctors of chiropractic present to patients about
their back pain that is more accessible to the patient than
what the M.D.'s say," Carey says. "Since it doesn't make that
much difference which health care provider you see, then it
becomes a matter of personal choice."
Patients told the researchers that they felt doctors
of chiropractic were more likely to give an excellent
description of why their back hurt.
factor that could limit personal choice is cost. While seeing
a chiropractor eased back pain as effectively as seeing a
primary care physician, it does cost more overall - in part
because of the greater number of office visits. Still, Carey
believes the similarity in success rates raised a number of
questions that warrant more research.
"We're still not completely clear on why it works. We're still
a little unclear why some patients choose chiropractic and
other patients do not. It seems that some patients respond
better to manual therapy than others," he says.
at Life Chiropractic College West learn how to "adjust"
reason for patients' back relief may be that many chiropractors
use physical therapy techniques like stretching, heat, and
massage along with spinal adjustment. But Dr. Robert Baratz,
M.D., Executive Director of the National Council Against Health
Fraud, who appears in Adjusting
the Joints, advises his back pain patients to stick to
the tried and true options, and save their money, too.
back pain comes from muscle spasm," he says, "and by relieving
muscle spasm -- by heat, by massage, by stretching exercises
-- the pain will go away. So if the chiropractor, by whatever
they did, took that tightened muscle and released it, then
they have done what anybody else would do. But you might be
able to do that by sitting in a bathtub and soaking in warm
water, using a heating pad, or doing some stretching exercises.
It doesn't validate manipulating the spine, because manipulating
the spine won't cure a tight muscle -- it's the muscle that's
the problem, and not the spine."
would Carey do for his own back pain? "Take some aspirin or
ibuprofen and give it a trial of time," he says. "See how
you do in a week or so. If you are still unable to go about
your usual daily activities, then seeing a health care provider
is a good idea."
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