After being in practice for over 23 years (24 with an internship), I think I’ve pretty much heard all the lines I could possibly hear with regard to what I do, how it’s done, how it’s described to others, what it sounds like, what others have been TOLD I do, what patients tell me I’m supposed to do during an office visit, how I’m characterized, and my personal favorite…why people who’ve never gone to a chiropractor were told NEVER to go…”because…you know, they’re not REAL doctors…!”
About a year after graduating, when these funny lines were uttered I used to factually defend the profession. But with time, I learned that the best way to combat the absurdity is with absurdity! Combat the humor with humor, but at the same time respect the patient’s decision to choose ME as their chiropractor and not abuse it. Continually educate them about themselves as well as why I do what I do, but always keeping in mind that there will always be some patients out there who will guard themselves from a nervous situation by cracking a joke…and that’s where I come in..
…because “laughter is great medicine!” (and as I like to point out the contrary, “the medical profession provides great laughs in their approach to health!”)
Myth #1 – Once you go (to a chiropractor), you HAVE to go FOREVER!
I love this one…it’s been out there for years! Wanna know who started it? I have a pretty good idea. Although, surprisingly the exact same kind of repeat-business marketing doesn’t seem to hurt dentists, motor oil companies or your local gym. Don’t you go to THEM on a repeat basis?…Get your teeth cleaned or change the oil in your cars engine every 3-5,000 miles? So why does it seem to be a bad notion to regularly have your spine checked for subluxations? Seems perfectly logical to me. Some things in life require periodic maintenance, tune ups or adjustments in order for them to maintain running at peak efficiency. If your intention to getting a gym membership was to “get in shape”, what happens when you get there? Do you quit and say, “OK, I’m in shape now” and stop going?…or do you continue to work out in order to maintain your newly svelt body style? Oh yeah, as for the originators of this “go forever” phrase…most likely it was from those who gave up on the support, resorted back into “what was,” and just figured it wasn’t worth the continued effort…then subsequently show up back at the chiropractor’s office with the same injury 6 months later, wondering why this keeps occurring! So, what do YOU think you should do?
Phrase #1 – “Hey Doc, can you ‘CRACK’ my back’?”
This was a common phrase I’d heard – and I still occasionally hear from time to time. It was used by some people new to my office who had not been educated on terminology yet. While it’s true that when adjustments are delivered there typically is an audible release, or ‘pop’ heard at the time. “Cracking” ones back seems a bit rough, doesn’t it? It also sounds as if I attended the Steven-Segal-School-of-Chiropractic, where whoever goes in only comes out paralyzed! So, knowing this I’ll then ask them… “Really? You want a ’cracking’ or an ‘ADJUSTMENT’?? Wow, I haven’t CRACKED someone’s back in a long time, but that brings me back to my old ‘Correctional Facility’ days! We used to dump the bodies on the train tracks to get rid of the evidence!”
After I laughingly recall that fictitious story with a grin of satisfaction on my face, they usually say, “OK, can you ADJUST my back?”
“Sure. I’ll adjust you,” I reply. “… but I was REALLY looking forward to giving someone a good CRACKING!! Maybe next time, ok??”
So, be careful what you wish for!! It’s a subtle change in your terminology, but an important one… Usually, when on their way out, I tell them that I didn’t get a license plate that says, “ICRAKU”… it’s this…
(I got the frame only because some guy at the old smog station in Danbury saw my plate and asked me, “Hey, what insurance company do you work for??”)
Phrase #2 – I “BELIEVE” in chiropractors…
This is another comment I occasionally hear. You know what’s funny?…I don’t hear that kind of terminology used for any other profession, natural phenomenon or trade based on science, but I sure hear it in mine. I still don’t know why! I guess I “believe in chiropractic” as much as I “believe in auto repairs”, “dentistry,” “ proctology,” “gravity,” “rush hour” or the tides. They are not mysterious, they’re accepted as givens for either being helpful, normal, or are so predictable that their effects are unquestioned. Much is the same with chiropractic. Once the nervous system is free from all possible mechanisms of interference(subluxations), it will function at it’s optimal level. Period. No mystery there. Much like a cold can inhibit your ability to breathe thru your nose, or a bend in your garden hose will inhibit the flow of water… so, given these parallels, where does chiropractic become a ‘belief’ but a flow of water doesn’t? People don’t go around saying, “I believe in stuffy noses”, do they? Listen, chiropractic is not a religion, it’s a science based on freeing nerve interference. And even though the measurable outcome is based on individual subjectivity, the benefits are still uniformly percieved…increased performance, improved ranges of motion, improved posture, boosted immune system, decreased pain and enhanced ability to handle stresses! But there’s no blood test for any of those, it’s more a measure of the expression of tone in your lifestyle…and THAT is palpable AND BELIEVABLE!
Adjustments vs. Manipulations
Boy, I love this one…this is another item of contention with regard to terminology. In the history section of my site, I reference the court case in 1906 in which the osteopaths took chiropractors to court, saying that we did the same thing THEY did. The case was rejected on 2 principles: the first being that each profession was looking to affect a different body system – osteopathy targeting the circulatory system and chiropractic targeting the nervous system. The second of which was that chiropractors ADJUST specific vertebrae, whereas osteopaths MANIPULATE entire regions of the spine. Simple enough – case dismissed!
While we were in college, we did a study on the public perception of those 2 words, ADJUST and MANIPULATE and the results were quite astonishing. While I can’t reproduce that study, we did find ONE thing common among people and their definitions and synonyms for each… Pick up a thesaurus and check out the differences…
Manipulate: beguile, conduct, control, connive, direct, engineer, exploit, finagle, handle, jockey, machinate, mold, negotiate, play games with, push around, upstage, use.
Adjust: accomodate, accustom, adapt, align, arrange, compose, correct, fine-tune, fit, fix, habituate, harmonize, modify, reconcile, recitfy, stabilize, tailor, tailor-make, tune.
A lot can be said for the terminology of anything, and certain words will become associated with it if they are not corrected. For instance, for years insurance companies referred to chiropractic treatment as “CMT” – Chiropractic Manipulative Therapy, and any time I heard that I made sure I corrected them to the real thing…CHIROPRACTORS ADJUST the spine. They do not, and never will, ‘manipulate’ anything. Once this distinction is uniformly made, the terminology will change…for the better!