Is “Chiropractic Medicine” an Oxymoron?

Is “Chiropractic Medicine” an oxymoron? Recently, I’ve been engaged in several conversations with some of my chiropractic colleagues about this very idea. You may not know it but only recently Chiropractors and Medical Doctors started playing nice together. In fact, until the late 1980’s the discrediting and destruction of the Chiropractic profession was an overt focus of the American Medical Association. Today, it is clear that the “alternative” and the “mainstream” are on a collision course and fortunately this change is being driven by you, the health care consumer. My intention is to explain how Chiropractic is not only its own brand of medicine, but it is very good medicine at that.

The word “medicine” has many meanings. Commonly, we think about little orange or white bottles full of colorful pills when the word is mentioned. This is one definition of medicine. There is a branch of the healing arts that we generically refer to as medicine (hence Medical Doctors). It also means the practice of forming a diagnosis, prognosis and providing a treatment to a patient. In its most basic sense medicine is a treatment or cure. Isn’t “laughter the best medicine?” Don’t love, companionship, optimism, confidence, respect and many others have powerful healing properties? Who would deny that these are medicine?

So from the standpoint that medicine is about pills… yeah, Chiropractic has nothing to do with that. Chiropractic is the application of spinal adjustments to correct dysfunction of the nervous system. In the sense that Chiropractic is a treatment and cure for spinal joint dysfunction or subluxation, there is no medicine that compares to the effectiveness of a Chiropractic adjustment.

What about the term “Physician”? Are chiropractors physicians? Some chiropractors will balk at the term, puff out their chest and make some sanctimonious declaration such as, “I’m a Chiropractor. Why would I want to be a physician?” The word physician tastes bad in their mouths as if they were talking about pedophiles, Nazi’s or stepping on snails while barefoot.

The title physician was hijacked by the medical profession. The word finds it Greek roots in the term physis which, translates to English as “Nature”. Now when you contrast synthetic drugs, invasive surgery, and the rigorous objectivity of the modern medical profession with the chiropractic philosophy of restoring the nervous system to its innate function and allowing the body to heal itself; who are the physicians?

Obviously we often reserve the terms physician and medicine for medical doctors to avoid confusion. I certainly don’t want people to believe that they are going to come to my clinic and receive a prescription for pills or go under the knife. I’m not a Medical Doctor. I am a physician, restoring natural function to the human body using medicines like adjustments, massage, a smile, intention, belief, laughter, and more.

So is “Chiropractic Medicine” an oxymoron? Definitely not. Chiropractic is medicine. If not it would never help anybody.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jacob Cartwright

    Not all medicines are man-made chemicals, but herbs and drugs help the chemicals our body makes to ease pain and restore function. Chiropractic helps realign the body which eases pain, restores function to the body so that the body properly produces it’s own medicine (endorphins, ect) during and after an adjustment. At least that’s how I understand it.

  2. Jason Young, DC

    It sound’s like you understand it pretty well. I should have also mentioned that Chiropractic Medicine does not carry many of the risks and side effects that you get with other forms of medicine. For example it is almost impossible to overdose. There is no risk of intestinal bleeding, allergic reaction, etc.

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