What is the biggest barrier to chiropractic for the masses?

Its back care awareness week this week, and it has got us thinking… what is the awareness of chiropractic like in the UK? We know how good we are at treating back pain, and we know how many people in the UK suffer with back pain, so why don’t we have a queue to bristol out of our door? I am still amazed how often i tell people what i do, and i either get asked “is that one of those people that does feet?” or something equally unrelated. Of those who do know, the most common question is still “whats the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor?” (i wont go into too much detail on this today!) Its not entirely surprising that people don’t know what a chiropractor does, even pronouncing our name properly is a challenge, let alone explaining what it actually is we do. Any one remember the Alistair McGowan sketch where David Beckham comes home and says “Victoria… the doctor says I’ve got to go to choir practice!!”

The american chiropractic association describes chiropractic as “a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health.” Whilst this is accurate, and may please lots of chiropractors, i still don’t feel that this means much to the non-medicalised person seeking help. Put basically, we are experts in the management of pain arising from joints and/or muscles… particularly back and neck pain. There are a few things which we believe set us apart. Firstly the treatment… The adjustments we give are specific, very safe and use a high velocity, low amplitude (HVLA) thrust. The benefit of a HVLA thrust is that by using a quick impulse, we can achieve the same amount of force to move the joint, without actually moving the joint as far (because force=mass x acceleration) thus less strain is put on the surrounding ligaments and supporting structures. These adjustments take time to master, which is one of the reasons our training is a five year course. Whilst there are other professions out there who do use manipulation, none of them have as much training in it as we do.

The other thing that sets us apart is our ethos, or philosophy. In its early days, chiropractic was founded on the principle that disease originated from misalignments of the spine, and as such could be prevented by correction of these misalignments. Many chiropractors have moved away from this school of thought, and we certainly wouldn’t go around claiming to be able to cure cancer with an adjustment, but we do believe in treating patients as a whole. Holistic healthcare means taking factors such as diet and lifestyle into consideration when treating patients, rather than just treating their symptoms, and keeping ongoing contact with our patients to promote active health rather than just waiting and reacting when things go wrong again.

Think health care, not sick care!