I am writing you for some advice if possible. I plan on attending Los Angeles College of Chiropractic beginning in September 2002. After several years of prerequisites and propaganda from two chiropractors I know, I decided to look into the controversial side of chiropractic. I discovered some of your writings along with the Chirobase web site and other publications on the use of nonscientific methods in chiropractic care. These publications shocked me to some degree. I firmly believe in the idea that chiropractic care can help those individuals with musculoskeletal problems related to accidents or injuries when the practitioner uses proven scientific methods. But I had no idea the extent some chiropractors go with their unusual and sometimes dangerous methods. I am writing you to ask for your guidance in my future as a chiropractor. Do you regret becoming a chiropractor? Do you still believe that a chiropractor can be an asset in a community? What advice can you offer a future chiropractor?
It is true that chiropractic can be effective in the treatment of some types of musculoskeletal problems. And there are some chiropractors who do a good job treating back pain and related ailments. Unfortunately, most chiropractic colleges teach that vertebral subluxations cause organic disease as well as back pain. Chiropractors who are able to ignore and renounce the vertebral subluxation theory and specialize in the care of selected neuromusculoskeletal problems can often offer a service of value and receive referrals from medical practitioners. Because of the controversy surrounding the practice of chiropractic, however, and the activities of subluxation-based chiropractors who promote chiropractic as a method of adjusting the spine to restore and maintain health, it is difficult to earn the respect of other health-care professionals. Failure rate in chiropractic is high, as reflected in student-loan defaults, which are higher in chiropractic than in any other health profession.
Even though the vertebral subluxation theory has been rejected by medical scientists, it still defines the practice of chiropractic in the United States. With persistence and determination, you might be able to build a properly-limited and acceptable practice, but you will be competing with aggressive subluxation-based chiropractors who will be advertising and attracting all the attention.
If you have undergraduate credits that would allow you to enter an accredited university, I would advise you to consider study in another field of health if you want to avoid the stress and insecurity associated with the practice of chiropractic, which often deserves the criticism it receives. If I had to make a choice today, I would go for a doctor of physical therapy degree, which would provide opportunity to use manipulative therapy along with other physical treatment methods without dogma, societal suspicion, or rejection by the scientific community. Physical therapists have been granted direct access in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and there is ample opportunity for employment of physical therapists in hospitals and mainstream health-care facilities.
Before you make up your mind to become a chiropractor, read “Why Chiropractic is Controversial” and other Chirobase articles that are critical of chiropractic, as well as my article “What a Rational Chiropractor Can Do for You.”
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 revised on March 19, 2018.