On Chiropractic

I recently received a query from one of my readers regarding my opinions on chiropractic, so I’ll try to briefly address the subject here.

The majority of alternative and traditional medicines, remedies, and practices out there are definitely based on grains of truth. Especially since it has so many adherents who swear by it and/or practice it happily, chiropractic in particular must have some of that truth to it as well. However, having personally had experience with many other similar therapies like Rolfing, Feldenkrist, Alexander Technique, osteopathy, craniosacral therapy, and more general manual therapy, I’ll say that chiropractic is definitely far cruder than most other body manipulation therapies.

As chiropractic revolves around relatively gross adjustments and spinal manipulation, when it does have an impact, it’s a very noticeable and immediate impact for the patient—hence the one area that chiropractic is actually proven to work with is lower back pain. Especially because of the Western public’s Big Media/Big Marketing-brainwashed desire for immediate gratification and sublimation of all pain, many people adhere to chiropractic’s offerings. And, for some types of stresses and injuries, such major adjustments can actually be quite helpful and therapeutic.

In general, however, it’s my view that chiropractic is actually one of the least beneficial therapies when it comes down to overall and longterm health and musculoskeletal fitness. The other techniques I mentioned above, plus many others, including self-administered yoga and even just regular exercise, can all be just as useful in not only relieving pain and curing ills, but also in preventing future issues. Additionally, most other therapies are much more low-impact than chiropractic can be, and since even popping your knuckles too often can lead to lower grip strength and inflammation, cracking one’s back too often, over the long term, can’t be too good.

There is one major caveat here though—as in many other areas, medicine (whether alternative or standard Western) is practiced by people, and even the worst person in a med school class can become a doctor. Therefore a lot of the bad press that many therapies get, including the recent spate of anti-chiropractic news out there, can often be traced back to individual idiots, bad practitioners, mistakes, and ignorance. A great chiropractor might be more knowledgeable and helpful than a bad doctor, and vice versa.

All that being said, as someone who tried a variety of such physical therapies as a child due to severe knock-knees, restricted breathing, and other physical problems, the mode that ended up fixing the issue for me (permanently, I must add), was manual therapy, an offshoot of osteopathy that deals with more minute manipulations of the fascia and other smaller connective tissues. There’s a good description of it here. Combined with a regular low-impact yoga routine, I’ve personally never felt better in my life.

So ultimately it’s up to you, as an individual, to find out what works best for yourself, by finding the best individual practitioners of whatever medical or therapeutic practice makes the most sense for your situation.