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Is Chiropractic At The Crossroads?

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Is Chiropractic At The Crossroads?

The Chiro.Org Blog

SOURCE:   Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2011 (May 21)

John W. Reggars

Suite 1/593 Whitehorse Road,
Mitcham, Victoria, Australia 3132.
School of Chiropractic and Sports Science,
Faculty of Health Sciences,
Murdoch University.
Murdoch, Western Australia, 6150

Background   Chiropractic in Australia has seen many changes over the past 30 years. Some of these changes have advanced the professional status of chiropractic, improved undergraduate training and paved the way for a research culture. Unfortunately, other changes or lack of changes, have hindered the growth, public utilisation and professional standing of chiropractic in Australia. This article explores what influences have impacted on the credibility, advancement and public utilisation of chiropractic in Australia.

Discussion   The 1970’s and 1980’s saw a dramatic change within the chiropractic profession in Australia. With the advent of government regulation, came government funded teaching institutions, quality research and increased public acceptance and utilisation of chiropractic services. However, since that time the profession appears to have taken a backward step, which in the author’s opinion, is directly linked to a shift by sections of the profession to the fundamentalist approach to chiropractic and the vertebral subluxation complex. The abandonment, by some groups, of a scientific and evidenced based approach to practice for one founded on ideological dogma is beginning to take its toll.

Summary   The future of chiropractic in Australia is at a crossroads. For the profession to move forward it must base its future on science and not ideological dogma. The push by some for it to become a unique and all encompassing alternative system of healthcare is both misguided and irrational.

The FULL TEXT Article:

This paper is the author’s perception of the many changes which have impacted, both positively and negatively, on chiropractic and the chiropractic profession over the past 30 years. Some of those changes have advanced the professional status of chiropractic, improved undergraduate training and paved the way for a research culture. Unfortunately, other changes, or lack of changes, have adversely affected the profession’s growth, credibility and the public utilisation of chiropractic services in Australia. It would you also appear, that the crossroads confronting the profession in Australia are not unique, as there are many parallels with what has occurred or is occurring internationally.



In order to appreciate and fully comprehend what I perceive to be the crossroads currently confronting the chiropractic profession in Australia, it is necessary to reflect on where the profession has come from, and the roads it has taken to reach these crossroads.

Furthermore, this is not first time the literature has referred to chiropractic being at some sort of crossroads. Others have also opined on similar circumstances facing the profession [1-3]. These three references will be discussed in this article, in the context of the current status of chiropractic in Australia.

Read the rest of this Full Text article now!

About the Author:

I was introduced to Chiro.Org in early 1996, where my friend Joe Garolis helped me learn HTML, the "mark-up language" for websites. We have been fortunate that journals like JMPT have given us permission to reproduce some early important articles in Full-Text format. Maintaining the Org website has been, and remains, my favorite hobby.


  1. Rob May 23, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    A few things strike me about this man’s article:

    1) he sets the crossroads as between “evidence-based” on one side and psuedo-science religious zealots on the other. He clearly doesn’t understand or appreciate the width and depth of the VSC-supporting side, and the fact that many of us practice a very scientifically-sound version of chiropractic while still recognizing the subluxation as real.

    2) He is either entirely unwilling or unable to see that the VSC and scientifically-sound and evidence-based practice are not mutually exclusive.

    3) He does not even attempt to refute the components of the VSC or any popular model of the subluxation, or to address any concerns that subluxation-centric chiropractors might have with embracing the medical model.

    4) He asserts that philosophical chiropractors want the be respected and paid and included in the allopathic community like medical doctors but are unwilling to do the research or base their clinical judgments on scientifically-sound research, but he doesn’t offer any evidence of that – he just states it as a fact and changes topic. Is this is the caliber of research we need to cling to in order to satisfy his narrow-minded approach to health?

    5) Attitudes like his will be unlikely to sway anyone, even someone like me who has no real love for those who cling to the subluxation ideologically and dogmatically. His approach is abrasive, his reasoning might be solid but he fails to make his case convincing, and I suspect he is as extreme in his views as many of the zealots he lampoons are in theirs.

  2. Maine Chiropractor May 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Lets not forget quoting a Reader’s Digest survey as “evidence” that the public distrusts Chiropractors! While I don’t disagree with most of what he said, he just comes across as bitter and angry. He also completely discounts the possibility that the “zealots” could ever be right about anything.

  3. Nick May 30, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Excellent article. Despite protestations, he is dead-on accurate.

    Our profession has an evangelical right wing that likes to simultaneously claim legitimacy whenever the literature mentions it, devalue research in general, attack progress in scope and training whenever possible, and reinforce treatment plans that are far beyond anything a reasonable DC would recommend.

    Where they are brilliant is in where both of my colleagues above have been caught… they do so in blatant disregard for the profession and those who came before, while using just enough rhetoric to convince those of us that are in the middle that “progressives/medipractors” are trying to “destroy chiropractic”.

    When most of us look at the advances in understanding of what we have called the VSC, these BJ quoting evangelicals STILL claim that a bone out of place is pressing on a nerve and choking off life force… and only a chiropracTOR can detect and correct these problems in only 70 easy-pay visits (never mind that BJ said that a chiropracTOR should only take two weeks at most.)

    Additionally, many DCs have made a habit of attacking the “medical” model… visiting many offices or reading their facebook pages reads like an anti-medical rant… most posts talk about how some treatment or another is ineffective, or how a surgery doesn’t have great outcomes… so “try chiropractic for health!” Between that misguided attempt to gain patients, and a tie to historical attacks on the profession that we surmounted years ago… we now have a sense that we must still continue to fight the good fight.

    The truth is, at this point we are digging our own grave by not moving forward. If the entire profession does not want to move into a new generation of practice, leaving old biases behind… perhaps it is time for our more evangelical colleagues to form their own profession of “true spineology” or “spinal hygiene”, rather than clinging to a bastardized version of chiropractic from 1910 that never really existed in the first place.

  4. Maine Chiropractor May 31, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Agreed Nick. Well put.

  5. Maine Chiropractor June 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    There is a happy middle ground. We can stand on our own two feet with the confidence that what we do works. Bashing the allopaths benefits nobody.

  6. Chris Perry June 3, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Someone needs to bash the Allopaths that with the United States under their watch obesity and chronic disease have skyrocketed and “medicine” is the third leading cause of death. Facts that can’t be disputed.

    Why would chiropractic want to be “integrated” into that?

    Chiropractic IS a unique form of healthcare. A form that isn’t the third leading cause of death in the US.

    RESPONSE from Frank:

    Hi Chris

    If every chiropractic patient was trim, you might have a point there, but it’s more probable that manufacturers who use sugar and corn syrup to make their offerings tastier, and the ad companies that promote them are the real culprits.

    When they start taxing soda and nutrient-deficient junk food the way they do cigarettes (and for the same reason) we’ll start to see real change.

  7. Maine Chiropractor June 3, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    I think the obesity and chronic disease states have lots to do with sleazy dealings in Washington as well. We didn’t have corn syrup until corn was subsidized. We don’t get weird food additives without FDA approval. Levying taxes may not help because the entity doing the taxing is the one that contributed to the problem.
    Cultural changes have also been contributory. People no longer are embarrassed by their obesity, some even flaunt it. I realize I am getting off topic here, but maybe a resurgence of the physical culture movement that took place at the turn of the last century is just what the doctor ordered. (This one would!)

  8. Frank M. Painter, D.C. June 3, 2011 at 5:13 pm


    States and Industries get subsidies because politicians from that State are persuasive, and often halt important legislation until they get their way. It’s unlikely that will ever change. Politics is politics.

    Since they started taxing tobacco to death however, the number of smokers has declined, and I think that’s the smart thing to do, as long as they set aside most of that tax money to subsidize Medicare…after all, it will be Medicare who will be left paying for most of the sick-care brought on by obesity.

    Hit ’em in the pocketbook. Most people will react to that faster than to a lecture about their waistline.

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