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295) Chiropractors had to fight for recognition

Ludwik Kowalski; 4/22/2006
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

The situation in the CMNS area made me think about chiropractors. These are people trained to deal with musculoskeletal problems. Not long time ago they were denounced by our medical establishment as incompetent intruders. Browsing the Internet I found an interesting short web site

devoted to history of that field. At the web site of Dr. Furr I found that the “profession has long been and continues to be ridiculed for advocating the broader clinical utility of manipulative procedures, for example, for patients with cancer, diseases of the viscera, cardiovascular disorders and psychiatric conditions.” In other words, chiropractors were accused -- usually by medical boards in different states -- for something the practitioners did not do, or at least were not supposed to do. The field was criticized not on the basis of practical successes but on the basis of ad hoc theories. The founder of chiropractic, D. D. Palmer, believed that his hands had magnetic effect on patients. Claims of “magnetic healing” are still being promoted by business-oriented organizations but this is not considered, as far as I know, to be a theory explaining successful attempts to remediate certain disorders.

Instead of addressing the issues of validity of procedures the establishment fought the emerging discipline by administrative procedures, most often in the form of legal accusations of practicing medicine without a license. And here is another quote, extracted from:

“At first, even though it proved to be a successful way of healing the body, chiropractic adjustments were not readily accepted. Years after Harvey Lillard's hearing was restored, the news media delighted in vilifying the pioneer chiropractor, whom they labeled a "charlatan" and a ‘crank on magnetism.’

The medical community, afraid of his success and discouraged by its own failure to heal diseases, joined the crusade and wrote letters to the editors of local papers, openly criticizing his methods and accusing him of practicing medicine without a license.” That was about 110 years ago. Today the field is recognized as legitimate, with degrees granted by accredited institutions, but some physicians are still antagonistic. How much of this is based on evidence against the effectiveness of chiropractic procedures and how much on economic competition for patients?


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