Doctors of Chiropractic more qualified than osteopaths, PTs and MDs in spinal manipulation/adjustment, according to the American Chiropractic Assoc.

November 08, 1999

ARLINGTON, VA -- As the American public grows more interested in finding natural, holistic approaches to health care, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) is staking its claim on spinal manipulation/adjustment -- the drug-free form of treatment used by doctors of chiropractic to relieve everything from low-back pain to tension headaches. As the result of a policy statement approved in August by the ACA's House of Delegates, the ACA is embarking on a national campaign to tell the public that doctors of chiropractic are "by far the providers currently best qualified by education and practical skill and testing to perform spinal manipulation/adjustment" ­ an integral part of the wellness care provided by doctors of chiropractic.

The new policy statement, developed by an expert committee of clinicians in private practice, academics, board certified specialists, researchers and business executives, points out that no other group of health care professionals ­ including medical doctors, osteopaths or physical therapists ­ are as qualified at the art of spinal manipulation/adjustment as doctors of chiropractic. The policy statement also addresses the risks and benefits of spinal manipulation/adjustment, the science behind spinal manipulation/adjustment and recommendations to invite further research and to facilitate public understanding of spinal manipulation/adjustment.

"As new research continues to demonstrate the effectiveness of spinal manipulation/adjustment for a variety of conditions, other health care professionals are trying to incorporate this treatment technique into their practices," said ACA President James A. Mertz, DC, DACBR. "What the American public might not know, however, is that doctors of chiropractic have been performing spinal manipulation/adjustment for more than a century. If you want the safest, most effective treatment available, see a doctor of chiropractic."

A comparison of the number of classroom hours various health care professionals spend on spinal manipulation/adjustment demonstrates that doctors of chiropractic are the only health care professionals in the United States extensively trained in manipulation/adjustment techniques. According to ACA's new policy statement:In comparison, the clinical portion of the chiropractic college curriculum includes an average of 555 hours in adjustive techniques/spinal analysis. In addition, during internship, two years of hands-on clinical experience are focused on manipulation/adjustment as the primary treatment procedure. Under the auspices of all chiropractic colleges, students are required to pass a practical examination on their manipulation/adjustment skills and a clinical competency exam prior to this internship, the policy statement says.

This extensive training in spinal manipulation/adjustment is the reason for chiropractic's impressive safety record. Studies suggest that the rate of serious complication is rare -- one adverse incident for every 400,000 to 2 million treatments. "In contrast," the ACA's policy statement reads, "rheumatoid arthritis patients taking common non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) result in 13 serious gastrointestinal complications for every 1,000 patients who take it. The mortality rate associated with these complications is 5 to 10 percent."

Not only is spinal manipulation/adjustment by doctors of chiropractic safe, it also saves money and gets patients back on their feet faster than other forms of care. Perhaps this is why spinal manipulative therapy services in the United States are performed 94 percent of the time by doctors of chiropractic. According to the policy statement, per-visit costs are generally lower for doctors of chiropractic than for other providers of musculoskeletal care. In addition, patients receiving chiropractic care take fewer prescription drugs and undergo fewer expensive diagnostic tests, such as MRIs.

"Individuals with less training and expertise than doctors of chiropractic may provide outcomes that are less than optimal, and can pose unnecessary health and safety risks and possible complications for patients," the policy statement reads.

American Chiropractic Association

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