The medical and pharmaceutical industries in the United States make hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Because of these big profits, they can get protective about what they consider to be their territory. Alternative medicine is a booming business and the largest practice within this is chiropractic. 30 million people just in the United States visit chiropractors, according to the American Chiropractic Association.

Being the largest threat to the medical establishment, chiropractors are often called quacks or fake doctors by other health professionals. This isn’t just sensitivity, either; it’s been proven that the American Medical Association purposefully slandered chiropractors. In 1987, a federal court ruled that the AMA was guilty of, “systematic, long-term wrongdoing and the long-term intent to destroy a licensed profession.” They directed their members to boycott chiropractors and sideline them and called them “unscientific cultists.”

So, what’s the truth? Are chiropractors quacks or is the traditional medical industry just scared of the growing popularity of holistic alternatives, like chiropractic? Let’s look at some of the accusations that are often lobbed at chiropractors.

Strokes

A common claim by those opposed to chiropractic is that sometimes during a spinal adjustment, serious strokes have occurred. There are important arteries through the neck, which if blocked can cause a stroke. Those making this claim admit this is an extremely rare occurrence but it is still listed as one of the main reasons to avoid a chiropractor.

In these exceptionally few cases, out of the hundreds of millions treated, it’s not clear which direction the causality lies. In the Journal of European Spine, J. David Cassidy writes, “VBA (Vertebrobasilar artery) stroke is a very rare event in the population. The increased risks of VBA stroke associated with chiropractic visit is likely due to patients with headache and neck pain from VBA dissection seeking care before their stroke. We found no evidence of excess risk of VBA stroke associated chiropractic care compared to primary care.”

So, it’s likely they were at the chiropractor because of pain due to an oncoming stroke, not that they got a stroke due to the chiropractor.

Training

Another accusation used to delegitimize chiropractors is that they are not educated and trained in human health enough to be experts. This couldn’t be further than the truth. In a lot of areas, chiropractors actually have much more training than medical doctors. See this breakdown of hours of study below, compiled by Align Chiropractic.

  • 161 hours of Biochemistry/Chemistry (where the doctor requires 100)
  • 408 hours of Diagnosis (113 for the doctor of medicine)
  • 149 hours of Neurology (Medical doctors require more with 171)
  • 56 hours psychology/psychiatry (medical doctors take 6 times as much with 323)
  • 271 hours of x-ray (medical doctors only require 13)
  • 168 hours Orthopedics/ Manual Therapy (medical doctors take a depressing 2 hours)
  • 699 hours of anatomy + Physiology (Medical doctors take 215)
  • 296 hours Pathology (medical doctors take 507)

Overall, chiropractors have to complete 2,208 credit hours total, while the core studies of medical doctors require 1,444 credit hours.

Alternative Medicine

The last charge you may hear is that chiropractors are just phony alternative medicine – basically a scam. It is true that chiropractic is an alternative to the medical establishment, but this doesn’t mean people are not healed. Taking a holistic approach, with “alternative” practices like meditation, yoga, osteopathy and chiropractic is not just a fad. People are seeing real results because these look at us as an entire being, not just a list of symptoms to fix.

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