Chiropractic: Who’s Laughing Now?

Chiropractic has been around as a profession for nearly 120 years. As a treatment, the art of spinal and joint manipulation has been around for centuries.

As a profession, chiropractic has endured a great deal of scepticism, mostly from the medical profession-less so from the public at large. Over the years there have been concerted attacks on chiropractic from the likes of the American Medical Association and the New Zealand Medical Association. More recently, chiropractic has

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Public perception of chiropractic has been driven more recently by mainstream media

suffered subtle attacks in mainstream media – mentions in comedy programmes such as ‘Friends’ and the hapless character ‘Alan’ in the long running comedy programme ‘Two and a Half Men’ seem to get roars of canned laughter.

But progress is being made. In the late 1970’s, the New Zealand government commissioned a 377-page report finding that chiropractors ‘carry out spinal diagnosis and therapy at a sophisticated level’. Similar findings were also found in government reports in America, Australia, Sweden and Canada – that ‘spinal manipulation applied by chiropractors is shown to be more effective than alternative treatments for low back pain. Many medical therapies are of questionable validity or are clearly inadequate’.

In 1995 a scientific paper was published by TW Meade concluding that spinal manipulation carried out by a qualified chiropractor was safe and effective for treatment of low back pain in comparison to other forms of treatment such as physiotherapy. Perhaps this became a turning point? Physiotherapy courses began to offer ‘joint manipulation’ as a post graduate course. Perhaps there was something of clinical value that chiropractors were doing to get people better, quicker?

Today, joint manipulation as a treatment modality is offered by both chiropractors and physiotherapists. Scientific research is on-going. It seems like the chiropractic profession were on to something early. So, who’s laughing now?