Misconceptions

Myth 1: “If you start you have to go for the rest of your life.”

How long you decide to benefit from chiropractic care is always up to you.

Since many spinal problems get started from traumatic births, accidents, or other long-standing problems, permanent correction can be difficult. Years of muscle damage, scar tissue and ligament instability can set the stage for a relapse. In this situation, patients often find a program of supportive care (like regularly brushing your teeth) to be helpful.

Most patients who experience the huge changes in their energy levels, immune function, sleep patterns and general well-being choose to maintain chiropractic care as part of their wellness lifestyle. It soon becomes an integral approach to enjoying a higher quality of life.

The amount of chiropractic care you utilise is always up to you – decide for yourself whether you want Initial Relief or Patch-Up Care, or Wellness Care for a non-symptomatic elective approach.

Myth 2: “I’ve heard chiropractic wears out your joints.”

In fact, the reverse is true… Chiropractic care can help prevent joints from wearing out!

Bones don’t actually “rub” on each other. Instead, each joint is enclosed in a “capsule” with a lubricating fluid that should normally offer a lifetime of friction-free movement. When there is a loss of proper motion or position of spinal bones (vertebral subluxation) it can lead to degenerative changes. The body will often attempt to make up the difference of a restricted spinal joint by moving too much in the spinal segments above or below the affected area.

Obviously, areas of too much movement are left to stabilise during the healing process. Instead, chiropractic spinal adjustments are directed only to those areas that are “stuck” and not moving enough.

Myth 3: “Adjustments are dangerous and can cause a stroke”

Chiropractic has repeatedly been proven as an extremely safe form of healthcare. Unfortunately, political and emotional issues have clouded the true scientific discussion of actual and relative risks. Chiropractic adjustments or manipulations are safer than many everyday activities and are far safer than common over-the-counter painkillers and other prescribed medications.

There are some who suggest that the chance of having a stroke from a chiropractic adjustment is about 1 in 1,000,000 – 5.25 million. These numbers are only estimated, but if even remotely accurate it indicates that you have a better chance of being struck by lightning, being killed on a bicycle, or dying from taking aspirin, than you have of being seriously injured by chiropractic.

The chiropractic profession is continually engaged in monitoring and improving the quality and safety of the care that is delivered.

Myth 4: “Chiropractic is only effective for back pain”

Some chiropractors choose to focus only on caring for people who have back pain. Vertebral subluxation often contributes to this condition and the available research indicates that chiropractic is one of the most effective approaches in helping people with spinal pain.

However, the benefits of chiropractic are much greater than just helping with pain. The wide-ranging detrimental effects of the vertebral subluxation manifest in a variety of health challenges and conditions.

The majority of chiropractors focus their practice on improving an individual’s overall health by correcting all subluxations in the body, not just the ones associated with back pain or any other symptom.

Most subluxations have no associated symptoms as only a small percentage of nerves actually sense pain signals. Correcting these subluxations is still very important because they are a detriment to your health whenever they are present.

Chiropractic can have a major positive impact on anyone’s health, from newborns to geriatrics. Reducing nerve interference allows the full expression of the body’s inborn ability to repair and thrive, regardless of age, condition, or the presence or absence of symptoms or disease.

Myth 5: “Spinal adjustments are uncomfortable”

There are now many techniques available to adjust the spine – ranging from the classic dynamic thrust to very light forces or contacts, and can include table or instrument assisted delivery. Modern chiropractors utilise safe and effective procedures suitable to the patient’s age, condition and comfort levels.

Most times a spinal adjustment itself will not hurt at all. In fact a great sense of relief will be experienced. On some occasions it may feel like someone is momentarily pressing on a bruise.

As your body adapts to your adjustments, you may experience some additional discomfort, similar to the sensation of tender muscles after starting an exercise program. Over time, as your nervous system integrates the effects of the adjustments, most people feel a continuing sense of ease. This is one reason many people make chiropractic the cornerstone of their wellness lifestyle.

Myth 6: “Chiropractic results are just a ‘placebo effect'”

This is a convenient claim made by critics who have chosen to overlook convincing evidence to the contrary.

The placebo effect depends on the power of suggestion. Yet chiropractic results have been enjoyed by newborns, infants, pets that have been hit by cars, and others for whom the power of suggestion isn’t possible!

Plus, there are alterations to a patient’s spine from chiropractic care. Many see dramatic changes when they compare X-ray views taken before and after a period of care. Other tests show improved range of motion and flexibility.

There’s no question that the power of suggestion can be an important ally in the healing process. However, it can’t begin to explain the millions of patients who have been helped with chiropractic care.

Myth 7: “Chiropractors are not real doctors”

So, is a chiropractor a real doctor? Absolutely! A real doctor with a unique purpose. What your doctor of chiropractic can offer, no other doctor can.

The public has come to think of a doctor as someone who prescribes pills or removes organs. Sadly, many people also think this is the best, or only, method of viable health care. The current aggressive medical system is now a major cause of morbidity and mortality in itself (1-4). The public needs to understand that there is more to healthcare than just drugs and surgery – much more.

Doctors of Chiropractic (DC’s) graduate with an equally extensive education in basic human health sciences as any other doctor. How chiropractors differ is in their philosophy and application of the health sciences to help individuals maximise their health.

Chiropractors are the spinal health care experts in the health care system with a focus on a conservative, drug-free approach to health and performance. In most countries a chiropractor is one of five health professionals legally entitled to use the title doctor.

  1. Kohn L, ed, Corrigan J, ed, Donaldson M, ed. To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1999
  2. Lazarou J, Pomeranz B, Corey P. Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1998;279:1200-1205.
  3. Modern Health Care System is the Leading Cause of Death (http://www.mercola.com/2004/jul/7/healthcare_death.htm)
  4. Starfield B, Is US health really the best in the world? Journal of the American Medical Association. 2000; 284(4):483-5.

Myth 8: “It can’t help me with my health problems, because…”

Many people complete this statement with “I’m too old”, “of my genetics”, “I’ve been told I have to live with it”, or “the specialist said nothing can be done”. Only a chiropractor can tell you how chiropractic can help you improve your health. Remember that the nervous system controls every cell, tissue and organ in the human body, and vertebral subluxation interferes with normal nerve function. An alteration in nerve function leads to an alteration in tissue function. As such, a major key to optimum health is maintaining normal nerve function. No other profession is qualified to make decisions on chiropractic care. You wouldn’t ask your plumber how to fix your car. If you want to understand chiropractic, talk with a doctor of chiropractic. Contact a member of the NZCA near you to see how chiropractic can help you live life to the fullest!

Myth 9: “I don’t believe in chiropractic”

While chiropractic is different, it certainly isn’t something that you have to ‘believe in’ for it to work. Instead, chiropractic results are produced by adhering to scientifically confirmed facts:

  • The nervous system helps control and regulate every cell of your body. Nerve impulses flow from the brain, down the spinal cord, and to every organ and tissue.
  • Impulses sent back to the brain confirm that the body is working, as it should.
  • The moving bones of the spine can interfere with this exchange by irritating adjacent nerves.
  • Ill health can result from distorted or compromised nervous system control of the body.

Chiropractic care helps restore the integrity of the nervous system by reducing interferences caused by improper spinal function.

Myth 10: “There is no scientific proof that it works”

Over the years, there have been hundreds of studies proving its validity in improving the health of millions of people all over the world. Studies over the past five years have shown the positive benefits on increasing immune function, general well-being in the elderly and increased brain function. The science is there, all one has to do is take a look (see our research and literature section for a good start).

Any other queries?

Please contact your local chiropractor or the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association.