When it comes to treatment for back pain or neck pain, chiropractors are one of the first types of doctors you might consider turning to if you want to see results and not just mask the pain with prescription drugs — which is often what will end up happening when back and neck pain are treated by other kinds of doctors. But how do you choose a chiropractor who will give you the best treatment course based on your specific problems and your philosophy toward healthcare? There are many different chiropractic clinics, and of course different chiropractic clinics mean different care philosophies. Most chiropractors fall into one of two categories, however, and understanding them is the first step toward finding the chiropractor who’s right for you:
The discipline of chiropractic is in one sense ancient, as people have been using manual manipulations of the joints — particularly in the spine — to treat ailments going as far back as ancient Egypt. The modern field, however, was founded in the U.S. by Daniel David Palmer in 1895. Palmer believed it was possible to merge science and metaphysics, and early chiropractic care was rooted in non-scientific philosophies such as magnetism, spiritualism and naturalism. (It’s important to note that simply having a pseudoscientific founding doesn’t say much about chiropractic, as all branches of medicine once used practices not supported by the scientific method.)
Palmer also believed that the vast majority of illnesses could be cured by correcting misalignments (“subluxations”) in the spine. Chiropractors who still hold this belief, that spinal alignment can contribute to a very wide range of illnesses, are thought of as “straight” chiropractors.
The vast majority of chiropractors today, however, fall into the category of “mixers.” These chiropractors are still experts on the spine and use manual manipulation to treat more than just back pain, but tend to demand a higher level of evidence when it comes to the effectiveness of treatment strategies.
Mixers generally see chiropractic as a complementary care route to mainstream medicine, rather than a replacement for it (though they often work with osteopathic physicians, rather than medical doctors). They often want to see chiropractic integrated into a more well-rounded treatment outlook, and often even work in clinics with other types of practitioners. Mixers may also be referred to as “broad” chiropractors (as opposed to chiroprators with a more narrow view of chiropractic).
Do you have any advice on how to choose between different chiropractic clinics? Discuss in the comments.