In 1972, I read the book At Your Own Risk by Ralph Lee Smith and was startled into an awareness that exactly the same procedures and techniques as quoted by Mr. Smith were used on me about a few years before that when I was “cared for” by a local chiropractor in Allentown.
The beginning of the story started one day when I suddenly experienced a sharp pain in my lower back and nerve pain down my left leg. This was soon after some work during the construction of my new home.
A few well-meaning friends suggested a local chiropractor. I proceeded to make an appointment and made my way to his office. The first step was an immediate x-ray. This method (the entire back) was identical to that described by Ralph Lee Smith. Indeed, I never saw the actual x-ray, as the chiropractor simply returned from an adjoining room and informed me that I had a “subluxation” of the lower back.
The cure was the now recognized method of lying on the special motorized couch and the manipulation of my lower back, legs, and entire vertebrae, accompanied by comments such as “My, you really are tight,”
The charge for this first visit was $28.00, twenty dollars of which the chiropractor explicitly told me was covered by Blue Cross – Blue Shield.
When I suggested that he submit the bill for payment (the normal procedure), he suggested that this was not the method he used and gave me a receipt after I had given him my check. I submitted the bill and found out that such coverage does not come under the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Plan. Nor did it ever come under the plan. I have concluded that the chiropractor either was totally ignorant of such coverages or deliberately deceptive. I questioned him later about the coverage, and he simply replied with a quizzical attitude.
The cost didn’t bother me, for, if cure was possible, it would have been worth it. But after many repeated visits (all of them suggested in identically the same wording and manner as that indicated by Mr. Smith’s book and the quotations of a guidebook for chiropractors) After one year my painful condition was not being cured. In fact, I was getting worse and I was losing the feeling in the left side of my foot.
At this point I had a close personal friend who was a resident surgeon at the Allentown Hospital and one of the most respected doctors on the staff. Up to this point, I had failed to heed his warnings and advice. But now, with numbness in my foot and literally unable to get into or out of bed without severe pain, I decided the time to consult my doctor friend was at hand.
He advised going directly to bed and to making an appointment as soon as possible with a local orthopedic surgeon. This I did, and after a few days wait for the appointment, he examined me.
The rest of the story is much brighter—as with pointed alarm, he indicated to me what was happening. Following x-rays (this time by a trained technician on only the affected area of my back), he ordered me to bed for at least a month. Otherwise, hospitalization and possible back operation would be necessary.
Needless to say, I followed his instruction to the letter. and within a two-month period, I was walking comfortably and began to exercise slightly. A few months later (and incidentally, with only about four check-up visits to the orthopedist) I was cured. My back has never bothered me again. I have watched with caution what I lift and do take caution on how I exercise.
Since this experience, I have watched with great interest the practice of chiropractic. I have never considered myself to be a leader in a specific cause, but I feel strongly that citizens should be aware of the methods used by chiropractors. If, after exposure, they still choose to visit them, then that is their fate, I thank God I was able to walk away with my health.
I also have become increasingly alarmed at how chiropractors are attempting to infiltrate our governments with lobbyist tactics for the coverage of Medicare payments and other compensation. This amounts to nothing more than precious tax dollars going toward the support of ‘quack’ medicine.
I almost lost the use of my legs. Others, no doubt will lose their lives by innocently entrusting their care to these so-called “doctors”. I hope you will do everything in your power to oppose chiropractic inclusion in Federal health programs.
Mr. Johnson edited and published MEMO magazine. This report is a slightly edited version of a letter he sent to his local Congressional representative in 1972 to oppose chiropractic inclusion under Medicare.