I am a massage therapist but am looking into becoming a chiropractor. Do you think chiropractic is a safe, honorable profession? As a scientifically-minded person, I cringe to think that people in my future profession will not be same way. I can begin chiropractic school in the fall of 2004, but I am reading all I can about chiropractic, especially the criticism, before making a final decision.
What general advice can you give me? Do you believe that chiropractic is a legitimate health profession?
Whether chiropractic is legitimate depends on how it is practiced. Spinal manipulation can be effective in treating some types of back pain, and practitioners who combine it with other effective methods can offer a valuable service for certain musculoskeletal problems. However, many chiropractors base their practice on nonsensical “subluxation” theory and use senseless techniques such as applied kinesiology to detect and correct nonexistent problems.
The May 2000 issue of Consumer Reports reported that deep-tissue massage, chiropractic treatment, and exercise, in that order, received the highest marks from survey respondents who felt that, for back pain, such treatment was more effective than drugs, acupuncture, and other forms of treatment
Although the ability to combine massage with manipulation would be clinically advantageous, it is not clear that whether going to chiropractic school would be worth the investment of time and money, Chiropractic education is expensive, and the failure rate among chiropractors is high. Unless you are prepared to shoulder the bad with the good in a struggle to establish yourself as an ethical and science-based chiropractor, you should think twice about enrolling in a chiropractic college. Be sure to read some of the articles on Chirobase before making a final decision. And if you go, be sure to choose a school whose program is not subluxation-based.
Dr. Homola is a second-generation chiropractor who has dedicated himself to defining the proper limits on chiropractic and to educating consumers and professionals about the field. His 1963 book Bonesetting, Chiropractic, and Cultism supported the appropriate use of spinal manipulation but renounced chiropractic dogma. His 1999 book Inside Chiropractic: A Patient’s Guide provides an incisive look at chiropractic’s history, benefits, and shortcomings. Now retired after 43 years of practice, he lives in Panama City, Florida.
This page was posted on June 9, 2003.