Chiropractic medicine is a form of integrative medicine that focuses on natural, non-invasive, evidence-informed practices of disease prevention and health promotion. Through a broad scope of assessment and treatment modalities such as manipulation, functional medicine, physical rehabilitation therapy, targeted nutritional and botanical treatment, acupuncture, and diet/lifestyle management, chiropractic medicine can effectively treat a wide range of conditions and improve overall health.
Over the last few decades, chiropractic medicine has become more widely accepted by the conventional medical community. Unfortunately, there are still a number of myths and misconceptions that affect the public’s view of chiropractic care.
1. Chiropractic physicians are mistrusted by other doctors.
At one time, it was common for chiropractors or chiropractic physicians to be viewed with skepticism and contempt by other doctors, such as general practitioners. This misconception, however, was formed mostly in the mid-20th century and is no longer present. In the 1940s, a number of conservative physicians belonging to the American Medical Association (AMA) publicly scorned chiropractic medicine, trying to eliminate the profession by portraying chiropractic physicians as uneducated and unscientific charlatans. This persisted until a 1980s lawsuit found the AMA guilty of conspiracy against the chiropractic practice.
Today, support for chiropractic medicine within the medical community continues to grow. Academic studies showing the effectiveness of chiropractic care have been published in major medical journals, including this study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In February 2017, the American College of Physicians also updated their guidelines suggesting those with low back pain use various conservative, non-invasive therapies such as spinal manipulation before resorting to pharmaceuticals. Presently, the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment is largely accepted by medical doctors, and many hospitals even have chiropractic physicians on staff.
2. Chiropractic adjustments are dangerous.
Another common myth is that chiropractic adjustments are dangerous. In fact, chiropractic care is less invasive than many other forms of medicine, and a number of studies have proven its safety and effectiveness for patients of all ages.
Chiropractic medicine is a natural and safe alternative to other treatments, including conventional pain management such as steroids, anti-inflammatory medication, and surgery, which are associated with risks, side effects, and complications. All doctors, including chiropractic physicians, are required to pay for malpractice insurance — however, chiropractic doctors pay much less for this insurance than medical doctors because injuries resulting from chiropractic care are so uncommon. According to NCMIC, a major malpractice insurance company for the chiropractic industry, medical doctors pay annual premiums as high as $18,000 compared to about $3,750 paid by chiropractic physicians.
3. Chiropractic physicians are less educated than “real” doctors.
Due to the holistic nature of chiropractic medicine compared to more conventional approaches, many people who are unfamiliar with the profession, regard chiropractic physicians as less rigorously trained than other doctors. This, however, is simply false; chiropractic physicians are required to earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree (or DC) and a state license in order to practice in the United States.
Obtaining a DC degree at National University for example, requires five academic years of additional education on top of an undergraduate degree. Similar to the training undergone by medical doctors, DC students gain a solid foundation in the basic sciences with coursework in anatomy, physiology, neurology, pathology, and pharmacology, before going on to their clinical science training. A year of clinical internships and rotations completes their medical training.
Chiropractic physicians must pass four sets of national board exams in order to obtain a license within the United States. To maintain their license, they must complete continuing education to be sure they are current on the latest natural medicine practice innovations and research.
4. Chiropractic physicians only treat back pain.
Though chiropractic medicine is most widely known for treating spinal disorders, it is actually used to resolve or manage a variety of health conditions, including acute and chronic pain, fatigue, chronic gastrointestinal infections, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and headaches. It is often used by women to treat pregnancy-related pain and conditions at any stage of planning.
At National University, students are trained to become primary care physicians and thorough diagnosticians. No matter what the illness, students are taught to focus on the complete health and function of the patient, not merely specific issues or symptoms. They are taught to consider a wide range of factors that may impact health, such as biomechanical dysfunction, genetics, trauma, hygiene, microorganisms, nutritional status, exercise, posture, environment, and stress. Students graduate with many tools in their tool belt, and can draw upon various treatment modalities and innovations to help their patients.
5. Chiropractic medicine is only for adults.
Many parents fear that chiropractic medicine is unsafe or unnecessary for children. However, chiropractic care for children dates from as early as 1910. As a natural and non-invasive form of medicine, chiropractic medicine is a safe and effective first line of treatment for a number of child-related ailments. At National University, chiropractic students are trained as first-contact physicians and when necessary, will work integratively with other health care providers to find the best treatments possible for their patients.
Chiropractic physicians also provide preventative care to help establish healthy habits in children at all stages of their lives. For example, posture analysis can help identify posture habits that can greatly impact overall health, including energy levels, breathing, stress, and sleep. Additionally, chiropractic care encourages neuroplasticity, preventing neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and Sensory Integration Disorder.
Understanding the Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine program at NUHS
For students interested in a career in chiropractic medicine, the NUHS Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine program is an excellent option that can be completed in as few as ten trimesters. Students can take advantage of National University’s top-notch facilities such as laboratories, SMART boards, and the Training and Assessment Center, studying the latest, most innovative research, manipulation techniques and physiological tools to help every patient while gaining experience in one of the most rapidly rising fields of integrative medicine.
Are you considering a future as a chiropractic physician? If so, check out our career resource below to learn about the industry, job outlook, and the admission process. We also encourage you to learn more about the Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine program at NUHS by joining us for our upcoming Visit Day in Florida on Saturday, September 23.