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Foundations of Chiropractic

Research Affirms the Foundations of Chiropractic

Tooth decay occurs well before you get the first warning signs of pain. That is why the dental profession recommends regular check-ups which include teeth cleaning and gum care as well as the regular home care of brushing and flossing teeth. Wear and tear of the engine in a car will occurs well before the oil runs out, but everyone knows to change the oil every three thousand miles.

“Similarly, according to chiropractic theory and practice, vertebral subluxation [the area of the spine or other joint which is stuck and needs to be adjusted] may have a significant impact on health before the appearance of pain or other signs and symptoms. For example, loss of movement or stiffness in a spinal joint may lead to associated degenerative changes [osteoarthritis] – changes that can be prevented or even reversed if there is timely treatment to restore movement in the joint, but that may be irreversible before warning signs of pain appear.”

In several experiments, the knee joints of rabbits were immobilized [splinted so they could not bend] for 16 weeks. Within ONE WEEK degenerative changes began to occur and by week 12 the joints were completely fused. The follow-up experiment was even more interesting. In one group of rabbits which were immobilized for five weeks, the splints were then removed. Over the next 18 months, some were released to “normal cage activity” and some jogged on a treadmill five days per week. The rabbits in both of these groups had NO increase in the level of osteoarthritis once they resumed regular activity.


So what’s the bottom line: Loss of movement in a joint leads to significant degeneration (arthritis) and this may happen well before symptoms occur. Timely restoration of this movement by chiropractic adjustments and regular exercise will prevent, halt and may reverse these degenerative changes. From The Chiropractic Report, May 2004, p.1

Chiropractic Safety

Just as Chiropractic’s effectiveness has been studied so has its safety. Chiropractic’s approach is drug-free and non-surgical, therefore eliminating two of the largest risk factors in the health care field. Reports of danger are grossly exaggerated. Much misinformation and misunderstanding of the safety issue has been propagated by the (AMA) American Medical Association.

In the early 1960′s, the AMA decided to try to contain and eliminate Chiropractic as a profession. The AMA’s purpose was to prevent medical physicians from referring patients to Chiropractors and accepting referrals of patients from Chiropractors; to prevent Chiropractors from obtaining access to hospital diagnostic services; to prevent medical physicians from teaching at chiropractic colleges or engaging in any joint research; and to prevent any cooperation between the two groups.


The AMA unfairly told its membership, medical students, insurance companies and the general public that Chiropractic was an unscientific cult. Once some of the AMA’s policies became publicly known they stopped some of their overt actions.

In 1976, five Chiropractors filed a lawsuit against the AMA for violation of the Sherman Anti-trust Law. After almost 15 years of vigorous litigation, the U.S. Court of Appeals stated that the AMA intended to “destroy a competitor,” and that there was evidence “showing that the AMA was motivated by economic concerns.” The court found that the AMA had concealed evidence showing its guilt and was caught “doctoring” documents. The AMA was “guilty of systematic, long term wrong doing and has not acknowledged its lawlessness.”

So, is Chiropractic safe? A number of literature reviews of serious occurrences from chiropractic adjustments have been documented. The most exhaustive study discussed 113 cases of vertebro-basilar accidents following spinal manipulative therapy, from 1934 to 1987, a period of 53 years. Of the cases documented 66 were chiropractic, 18 medical, 9 osteopathic, 2 physical therapist and the remaining 13 were divided between “wife,” “self,” and “unknown”.

Let’s put these numbers in perspective. There were 66 chiropractic cases in 53 years; a little more than one per year. There are currently about 52,000 chiropractors in practice treating, on average, about 100 patients per week. That works out to 5.2 million adjustments per week or 286 million adjustments per year. This works out to 1 to 2 cases of stroke, paralysis or death per 286 million adjustments. One author, a medical doctor, stated about manipulation in general, “there is probably less than one death of this nature out of several tens-of-millions of manipulations.” Some medical authors state that the risk of manipulation to the neck is 0.0002% or 2-3 cases per million.

No matter how one interprets the results, more people die from complications of drugs and surgery in one single afternoon than in 20 years of cervical adjustments. As a comparison to the risk of manipulation, the risk of death from surgery to the cervical spine is 700 per million. From 1947-1978 in cases of stroke related death following manipulation, 9/10 death were attributed to manipulation by MD, DO or PT.

See the links below for more information:

“Researchers studying health-care quality have concluded that medical injuries caused during hospital stays kill tens of thousands of American patients annually, requiring at least 2.4 million extra hospital days resulting in potential medical charges of $9.3 billion.” Wall Street Journal 10/08/03 p. A3

To put chiropractic safety in perspective here are some facts about medical care:

1. A Yale New Haven hospital study showed that 100,000 to 200,000 people die per year from medication reactions. A Johns Hopkins study found that 14% of hospital stays are extended because of medication reactions.

2. A multi-hospital study found nearly 1000 people die every week from UNNECESSARY surgery.

3. When medical doctors went on strike for one month in Los Angeles County, the death rate dropped by 153 persons based on state records.

4. A Harvard University study showed that in one year medical negligence caused 7000 hospital deaths in New York state.

5. The U.S. Office of Public Health found that 2/3′s of the over-the-counter drugs do NOT do what the companies promise.

6. On August 26, 1992 the Food and Drug Administration said that 415 ingredients in over-the-counter drugs DO NOT WORK!

7. 1.5 million people per year will be hospitalized with iatrogenic reactions ACA 10/95

8. 100,000 people will die per year due to iatrogenic reactions ACA 10/95

9. 52,000 people per year die from complications of unnecessary surgery ACA 10/95

10. 1600 children die per year due to allergic reactions to aspirin ACA 10/95

11. 300 per year die from flying commercial airlines ACA 10/95

12. Advisors to the FDA are expressing concern over signs that many popular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are more dangerous than doctors and the public think. Forty-one thousand hospitalizations and 3300 deaths each year are blamed on such side effects. According to the FDA, 299 American deaths have been linked to Feldene (piroxicam) since 1982. (Associated Press 10/11/95)

13. Adverse reactions to prescribed drugs now cost the US $76 billion annually. 8.7 million Hospital admissions per year. (Associated Press 10/2/95)

  • ACA 10/95

  • Small intestine surgeries 1 in 4.76

  • Colon surgeries 1 in 14

  • Spinal fusion 1 in 51

  • Appendectomies 1 in 74

  • Cholecystectomy 1 in 100

  • Laminectomies 1 in 204

  • Coronary arteriography 1 in 222

Deaths per year from GI bleeding due to anti-inflammatory drugs for osteoarthritis- 400 per 1 million. 16,500 deaths per year (Wolfe MM, Lichtenstein DR, Singh G Gastrointestinal toxicity of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. New England Journal of Medicine, 1999: 340(24): 1888-1899.

Out of every 100,000 women under 40 who take birth control pills, 28 of them will suffer a stroke.  JCAHO Documents Alarming Increase in Surgical Mistakes in US WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) Dec 05 – Since 1998, the number of operations performed on wrong surgical sites or wrong patients has increased dramatically in the US, according to a report released Wednesday by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

In 1998, the JCAHO issued a Sentinel Event Alert after 15 “wrong site” surgery cases were reported to the organization. By the time the current report was released this number had skyrocketed to 150. Orthopedic/podiatric operations were the most common procedures linked to errors, accounting for 41% of the 126 cases that were analyzed. General surgery procedures accounted for 20% of the cases, neurosurgery operations for 14%, and urologic surgery operations for 11%. The remaining cases involved other procedures such as dental/oral maxillofacial operations. Fifty-eight percent of cases occurred in an ambulatory surgical setting, 29% in the inpatient operating room, and 13% in other inpatient settings.

Most of the errors involved operations on wrong body parts or sites, but 13% involved operations on the wrong patient and 11% involved the wrong surgical procedure.

The JCAHO identified a number of factors that seemed to increase the risk of surgical mistakes. Among these, emergency statuses of the case and unusual patient physical characteristics were the most commonly cited. In addition, most cases involved a breakdown in communication between surgical team members and the patient or the patient’s family. “Although the wrong site surgery problem has been addressed on a local level in many areas of the country, there has been no organized national effort to eliminate wrong site surgery,” Dr. S. Terry Canale, immediate past president of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, said in a statement.

In the report, the JCAHO makes several recommendations to eliminate surgical mistakes: Mark the surgical site and involve the patient in the process.

Create and use verification checklists. Before operating, verify with each team member the patient’s identity, the surgical site, and the procedure being performed. Take a “time out” in the operating room to check one last time that the correct procedure is being performed on the correct patient at the correct site. Monitor compliance with these procedures.

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