Articles by JCS

Vetting Chiropractic

 

Vetting Chiropractic

Table of Contents 

Back Pain: #1 Disabling Condition in the World

Vetting Chiropractic

Chiropractors as Reformists

Medical Media Malpractice:

The Rise of the Medical Monopoly:

Paradigm Shift in Spine Care:

Conclusion

 

Back Pain: #1 Disabling Condition in the World  

People do not realize that today back pain is the #1 cause of disability worldwide and is nearly a $300 billion expense in the US alone. Although not deadly like cancer or heart disease, 90% of American will suffer from an acute back attack in their lifetime; 20% consider their back pain to be serious, crippling, or disabling.

Back pain is a huge problem that is getting worse, and I believe the main reason for this epidemic is the boycott of chiropractic care. When the AMA’s Committee on Quackery announced in 1962 its goal to “contain and eliminate chiropractic,” it also contained and almost eliminated one of the leading effective treatments for most back problems.

Imagine if the AMA had waged war on dentists how bad Americans’ smiles would be, and we chiropractors see the same net effect in Americans who were discouraged to seek chiropractic care for their spine related disorders.

Like millions of Americans, my own mother suffered with chronic pain for 30 years until I adjusted her spine. Similar to most young adults in the 1960s, she was discouraged from seeking chiropractic care; instead, she lived on painkillers to no avail until her only son became a chiropractor, much to her chagrin, I might add, because chiropractors were considered quacks at that time.

Whether it is one patient like my mom or millions of Americans suffering daily from back pain, many experts agree that the epidemic of back pain is a direct result of medical mismanagement—misdiagnosis, mistreatment, and misinformation.

Mark Schoene, editor of THE BACKLetter, was painfully honest when he wrote, “Spinal medicine in the US is a poster child for inefficient spine care.”

His assessment reflects the opinion of Gordon Waddell,  DSc, MD, FRCS, author of The Back Pain Revolution, who minced few words:

 Low back pain has been a 20th century health care disaster. Medical care certainly has not solved the everyday symptom of low back pain and even may be reinforcing and exacerbating the problem.

“Sadly, we must conclude that much low back disability is iatrogenic [doctor-caused]…Back surgery has been accused of leaving more tragic human wreckage in its wake than any other operation in history…

“There is now considerable evidence that manipulation can be an effective method of providing symptomatic relief for some patients with acute LBP.”

 Ironically, after nearly a century of defaming chiropractic as an “unscientific cult,” now it appears the shoe is on the other foot when notable writers like Schoene and Waddell openly criticize medical spine care.


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Vetting Chiropractic 

Let me give you an example how chiropractic care for the epidemic of back pain has been overlooked.

Recently TIME magazine ran two cover stories that piqued my interest as a chiropractor. First, attorney/journalist Steven Brill’s exposé, cover story, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us” (March 4, 2013) that discusses why the medical system is so expensive considering the U.S. spends more on healthcare than the next ten highest spending countries combined.

Secondly, I was bemused at the April 1, 2013, cover story, “How to Cure Cancer*; *Yes, it’s now possible—thanks to new cancer dream teams that are delivering better results faster,” by Bill Saporito. Given the improbability of this notion considering the trail of tears in past cancer research, my reaction provoked another possible tale of medical achievement, only this one is more realistic.

Imagine this hypothetical TIME cover story:

How to Cure Back Pain*; *Yes, it’s now possible—thanks to a non-drug, non-surgical, safe, and inexpensive technique that has been rated as a ‘proven treatment’ by the US Public Health Service.”

This non-drug, non-surgical method has already been proven to help millions of Americans and could save billions of dollars in medical costs. This revolutionary non-medical technique has also gotten overwhelming approval ratings from patients polled by TRICARE, Medicare, Consumers Report, and Gallup.

While many Americans have persistent back pain, few realize the enormity of the pandemic of back pain that is now regarded as the #1 disabling condition in the world that 90% of Americans will suffer in their lifetimes. It’s a $300 billion industry in the US alone that equates to 10% of the total $3 trillion healthcare expense.

This new technique is an answer to a persistent problem that is only getting worse while costing billions. Most striking was the recent finding that only 1.5% of patients who used this method eventually had spine surgery in contrast to 42.7% who first saw an MD for the identical problem—low back pain. Imagine the savings when all patients utilize this brand of spine care before surgery.

Over the past twenty years research has confirmed the standard medical methods for back pain are mostly ineffective and certainly expensive, but also addictive, dangerous, disabling, and deadly as we’ve seen with narcotic painkillers, epidural steroid injections, and disc surgeries.

Indeed, one spine expert believes the pandemic of back pain can be laid at the doorstep of ineffective medical spine care methods. “Spinal medicine in the US is a poster child for inefficient spine care,” according to Mark Schoene, editor of THE BACKLetter, an international spine research newsletter from Georgetown University and perhaps the most astute spine journalist in the world.

If this new technique was a new drug or revolutionary new surgery, TIME would promote it as another in the long line of accomplishments of scientific medicine as it did with the recent cancer cure cover story.

On the other hand, if I were to tell you this new game saver was chiropractic care, most people would raise their eyebrows in suspicion. Instead, most often people have been subjected to medical voodoo to scare them away from chiropractors, not to present evidence that supports chiropractic care.

This cognitive dissonance is the main problem chiropractors now face—the conflict between medical propaganda and unfair journalism over the last century versus the new research evidence and public polls that place chiropractic care at the top of the heap in regards to spine care.

Tony Rosner, PhD, capsulated it best when he testified before The Institute of Medicine: “Today, we can argue that chiropractic care, at least for back pain, appears to have vaulted from last to first place as a treatment option.”

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Chiropractors as Reformists 

To the common lay reporter, chiropractic may not appear to be a newsworthy topic, but it is an intriguing yet untold story that rivals the tale of many freedom fighters seeking equality and fairness in our society.

Chiropractic represents a fascinating struggle of the first healthcare reformists in America, long before President Clinton’s Health Security Act in 1993 or President Obama’s recent Affordable Care Act.

According to historian Russell W. Gibbons, chiropractors felt the brunt as one of the first grass roots movements in America:

"…like abolitionists, chiropractors were systematically persecuted and driven from town to town. Like the feminists and suffragettes, chiropractors were made objects of ridicule. And like the civil rights workers of more recent times, chiropractors were intimidated and subverted by agents and provocateurs. In the finest tradition of reform movements, they were imprisoned for their beliefs."

Whenever people speak of chiropractic, like politics, same sex marriage, or gun rights and the Second Amendment, it perks up ears and stirs strong opinions. It’s hard to imagine in this age why such emotions exist about the 100+ year old chiropractic profession until you understand the history of the medical war against chiropractors.

In my 33+ years as a chiropractor, I can attest most opinions of my profession stem from outright misinformation gleaned from a century of medical propaganda. No other profession has suffered a similar fate from the AMA, once described as “the most terrifying trade association on earth.”

Indeed, chiropractic has never been fairly vetted due to the massive defamation campaign that remains embedded in the medical media. Compounding this problem is the fact that sometimes chiropractors were often their own worst enemy when it came to image.

Just as any movement has its fringe characters, so has chiropractic with charismatic leaders and fervent practitioners. It would be disingenuous not to admit that some chiropractors acted inappropriately in the past with outlandish ads making hyperbolic claims.

If not chiropractors shooting themselves in the foot or the AMA stabbing chiropractors in the back, chiropractic is a profession that today should be leading the charge in an epidemic of back pain as America’s primary spine care providers, yet it remains stymied due to bad PR or virtually no PR at all.

Chiropractic care has now been vindicated by researchers as the best treatment for most mechanical back pain; we’ve won major legislative battles for inclusion in Medicare, the VA, workers comp, and TRICARE military health services; and four brave chiropractors won a major antitrust trial, Wilk et al. v. AMA et al., that revealed the AMA’s illegal goal “to contain and eliminate” chiropractors.

At the Wilk trial it was shown how the media was dissuaded by the AMA to mention chiropractors in a favorable light by sending “Quack Packs” to newsmen, politicians, as well as college and high school counselors. It was also discovered at trial the heralded columnist Ann Landers worked in collusion with the AMA to denigrate the chiropractic profession in her syndicated advice columns.

At trial the AMA’s leaders testified that chiropractic care was an “unscientific cult” and “dangerous” and the AMA’s repressive actions were to protect the “public safety.” However, when asked for proof of their accusations, they offered none. Not one scientist testified against chiropractors, nor did they produce one patient who had been injured by a chiropractor. It was evident these medical hacks were simply parroting their own medical propaganda they had repeated among themselves for decades.

Like old Southern racists, their medical “trash talk” remains the last bastion of acceptable bigotry that, in effect, goes unchallenged even in the liberal media. Sadly, too many reporters have bought into this medical racism that still permeates many in the medical media.

Despite the political, legal, and research victories, chiropractors have not yet won in the court of public opinion, and this is not by chance. Just as racism did not stop after the Civil Rights Act in 1964, nor did the medical prejudice end after the Wilk trial. If anything, it became more entrenched by the medical stalwarts, the Medical GoodFellas, who continue to disparage chiropractors.

While it is not politically-correct to belittle women, racial minorities, or gay/lesbians, in many medical media circles it is still okay to ridicule, ignore, or defame chiropractors as evident recently at CNN and NPR.

Sadly, this discrimination continues today in the media since no chiropractor has had an opportunity to refute the medical propaganda due to the MDs’ control of health information on television. Indeed, have you ever seen an in-depth health program that included a chiropractor? For too long, chiropractors have been missing in the media.

Imagine if either Republicans or Democrats had sole control of political information on every network; that’s the problem with health care information—it’s all controlled by one political party—the AMA.

Even during the Obamacare Congressional hearings, never were the medical cartel’s feet held to the fire of public questioning as we saw when Detroit and Wall Street executives were skewered by Congressmen. Apparently donating millions to Congressmen has its advantages to avoid the public embarrassment explaining why America ranks among the worst yet most expensive healthcare systems in the industrialized world.

Indeed, can you recall the last time you saw on TV or heard on NPR an objective discussion of research evidence showing that chiropractic care has now been deemed safer, cheaper, quicker, and more effective than drugs, shots, and spine surgery for most back pain cases?

You probably can’t recall since my profession does not have a conduit to the mass media to allow chiropractic care to become part of the national discussion in healthcare. It is a 100-year profession waiting for a breakthrough in the media. Sadly, we remain the Mystery Science profession with an undeserved stigma.

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The Rise of the Medical Monopoly 

  • Medical War Against Chiropractors 

The medical war against chiropractors is not about pseudoscientific techniques or quackery as the AMA would have you think; those are red herrings used to confuse the public because this war always has been and remains today a bloody war about money. Judge Susan Getzendanner wrote the AMA’s embargo was a “lengthy, systematic, successful and unlawful boycott” designed to eliminate the profession of chiropractic as a competitor in the United States health care system.

This is not only a problem for chiropractors and patients, but the high cost of medical spine care is also a problem for our nation’s healthcare burden. Spine care alone is a $300 billion expense annually in the US alone.

The primary problem of high costs in healthcare today is due to the lack of free enterprise according to Steven Brill in his recent TIME article, Bitter Pill. I must add the lack of fair journalism only compounds this problem when complementary and alternative treatments are ignored, mischaracterized, or marginalized. Freedom of choice in healthcare is a moot point when there is only one choice available.

The discrimination is the result of a tactic implemented in the 1930s by the AMA when it widely disseminated its prejudicial attitude as “perceived wisdom” that “Everybody knows chiropractic is an unscientific cult, and if you don’t agree, something must be wrong with you, too.”

While people do not understand the source or extent of this medical war, most Americans realize there is animosity between the two professions. But very few people are aware that over 12,000 chiropractors were arrested over 15,000 times. They were often brutalized, publicly scorned, and 3,300 were imprisoned during the first half of the 20th century for what I do daily—adjust the spine speaks volumes about the lack of chiropractic information in the mainstream media. Do you realize this is more people than all the Civil Rights activists arrested at Selma?

This legal ploy by the AMA to eliminate competition from chiropractors remains a tactic to this day evident with the AMA’s Resolution 241 to repeal Section 2706, the non-discrimination clause in Obamacare that allows for all licensed practitioners to be covered in the upcoming health exchanges.

Imagine the push back by the media if any other group called for a return to discrimination, yet when the AMA calls for the repeal of Section 2706, nothing is said in the media. In fact, when Obamacare allows 50 million Americans access to an already overburdened healthcare system, experts estimate there will be a need for 100,000 more primary care providers.

The medical profession should embrace the help of chiropractors in this back pain epidemic. Considering 90% of patients will sometime complain of back pain as a major ailment, the 80,000 chiropractors stand ready to be America’s primary spine care providers to deal with this influx of patients.

New studies have also confirmed that most medical primary care physicians are inept in their training on musculoskeletal disorders, more likely to ignore recent guidelines, and more likely to suggest spine surgery than surgeons themselves.   

Inexplicably, rather than accepting the much needed help by chiropractors, Resolution 241 clearly demonstrates the AMA’s monopolistic stance—resistance to freedom of choice for patients and free enterprise among competitors.

This medical tyranny typifies the medical monopoly’s quest for total control in healthcare by eliminating free enterprise and restricting fair journalism as I recently encountered at CNN.
        
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The Rise of the Medical Monopoly

  • The Medical Mussolini 

Behind every movement is a powerful leader and this includes the medical war against chiropractors.

Although sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism have unknown origins, the source of medical bigotry can be traced back to one man who created the prevailing prejudice most Americans now have toward chiropractors.

In my book, The Medical War Against Chiropractors, I explain how the medical defamation of chiropractic was spearheaded by Morris Fishbein, MD, the executive director of the AMA from 1924-1949, who was also known as the Medical Mussolini due to his tyrannical leadership.

In 1910, Fishbein was hired as a publicity man for the AMA. By 1913, he was promoted as the assistant to the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, and in 1924 Fishbein became editor of the Journal.

Fishbein realized PR played an important role to capture the healthcare market by demonizing competition. He was the voice and the face of the AMA on Capitol Hill for a quarter of a century; he authored 22 books, he was syndicated in 700 newspapers, and made 130 speeches annually. He certainly was as prolific as he was devious.

His goal of total dominance for the AMA was made perfectly clear in 1925 when he wrote: “Scientific medicine absorbs from them that which is good, if there is any good, and then they die.”

And many careers did die when thousands of chiropractors were run out of town, arrested, beaten, and treated as outcasts. Their sole crime was helping sick people get well without drugs or surgery.

Fishbein was motivated by his love of money, power, and dominance of the healthcare market. To accomplish this goal, in 1930 Fishbein jumped into bed with the tobacco industry to fuel his medical McCarthyism policy.

Imagine the duplicity of this love affair when the so-called “guardians of health” went to bed with the biggest killer ever known to the American public—tobacco. Although this absurdity gave Fishbein little pause, it did illustrate his evil intent to do anything to achieve dominance, even jumping into bed with the devil.

In 1948 he admitted advertisement revenues from tobacco reached nearly $5 million to fund his war chest to influence the media and members of Congress. Consequently, this tobacco money converted “a panty-waist professional society into the most terrifying trade association on earth” as described in Harpers Magazine, which it remains to this day.

       At the Wilk antitrust trial, even the judge mentioned in her Opinion the damage of the AMA’s negative PR:

The activities of the AMA undoubtedly have injured the reputation of chiropractors generally…In my judgment, this injury continues to the present time and likely continues to adversely affect the plaintiffs.  The AMA has never made any attempt to publicly repair the damage the boycott did to chiropractors’ reputations.

I might add to her opinion that the media has also not sought redemption for its role in this defamation campaign. The AMA’s character assassination plot has continued by an unscrupulous media laden with bias that has not only stymied the chiropractic profession but has led indirectly to the pandemic of back pain worldwide.

My goal with the following Talking Points is to explain with current examples how this unfair journalism continues in the mainstream media toward chiropractors.

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Medical Media Malpractice  

  • Chicken Little Journalism 

The sheer lack of media exposure concerning the benefits of chiropractic care has not only stymied a positive image for chiropractors, but when combined with the prevailing medical bias in the media, this has created a phenomenon referred to nowadays as citation laundering that occurs when lingering medical propaganda is bantered around as “perceived wisdom.” This was exactly the goal of Fishbein in 1910 as it is today.

A recent example of citation laundering began on June 8, 2012, when a London newspaper printed a salacious article, Letting chiropractor 'crack' your neck to relieve pain could trigger stroke.Although there was no victim in this alleged malpractice, this allegation went viral and within days eleven articles re-printed this unsupported accusation on both sides of the pond about the safety of chiropractic care.

Most noticeably was the complete lack of any significant push back allowed to the chiropractic profession that was blindsided by this yellow journalism. I did write a letter to the editor of the English newspaper that initially printed this article, but it did not go viral to offset the damage done worldwide.

Consequently, the public never heard of the chiropractic point of view on this issue or the fact was never mentioned that of all spine treatments, chiropractic care is the safest with the lowest malpractice rates.

This witch hunt is what I call Chicken Little journalism that casts aspersions at my profession with only innuendo, not facts. Imagine the rancor any cheap shot at the medical profession would draw in a similar situation. Yet this newsworthy faux pas was never picked up by anyone else in the media.

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Medical Media Malpractice

  • CNN: Good Examples of Bad Journalism 

While CNN touts itself as “the most trusted name in news,” not too long ago CNN had to admit Dr. Sanjay Gupta fudged facts on key issues concerning Michael Moore’s film, Sicko.

As well, twice before Dr. Gupta was called on the carpet for promoting two controversial drugs—Gardasil and Vioxx, both manufactured by Merck, an advertiser on his program, and both later deemed dangerous and withdrawn from the market.

Obviously Dr. Gupta has issues with truthfulness and bias. Although his MD degree brings him prestige as a reporter, it also brings an inherent conflict of interest as an objective newsman. His conflict with Michael Moore is one example, but Gupta also has had a running battle with chiropractors, his natural rival for many spine related disorders.

      Having rarely, if ever to my recollection, seen any program on CNN concerning the benefits of chiropractic care, I searched the CNN website for programs by Dr. Gupta. I found a short video in 2008 that shamelessly smeared my profession with an exaggerated allegation that chiropractic care has caused “hundreds of strokes.”

From CNN’s website:

  • Stroke after chiropractic care updated Wed June 25, 2008
  • Hundreds of people have had strokes after having their necks manipulated, Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports.

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/health/2008/06/25/gupta.chiro.stroke.cnn

When I complained to CNN, they took down the video but never gave me a chance to refute it, nor did CNN or Gupta apologize for his cheap shot.

      Clearly the facts belie Dr. Gupta’s claim. According to research by Alan Terret et al., the rate of iatrogenic problems associated with spinal manipulative therapy as rendered by doctors of chiropractic is only 1 in 5.85 million cases, which is less than the chance of stroke in a hair salon, in a dentist’s chair, or being hit by lightning (one in 600,000). It equated to one occurrence in 48 chiropractic careers, yet Gupta implies this is a frequent event.

      Obviously Dr. Gupta’s goal was not a balanced story as much as an attack on chiropractors. Considering chiropractors have the lowest malpractice rate of any physicians, his exaggeration is unfair and biased.A more recent example of medically-biased journalism occurred when Dr. Gupta developed a bad case of professional amnesia about my profession in his program, Deadly Dose, that aired on Nov. 18, 2012. 

President Clinton issued a de facto executive order to have a “national conversation” on deaths from painkillers when he asked Dr. Gupta to do this exposé at the bequest of his friend whose son, a Georgetown University graduate, died from narcotic painkillers mixed with alcohol.

Dr. Gupta spoke on air about the 38,000+ deaths from prescription meds, most of which are narcotic painkillers like OxyContin taken for back pain. Presumably, viewers were led to think the solution to this epidemic was a non-drug solution to back pain, but he never mentioned chiropractic care during his one-hour show.

Like many viewers who use chiropractors, I was stunned at his omission. Certainly most people would agree if chiropractic care is good for anything, it is good for low back pain. Yet Dr. Gupta could not muster the honesty to admit this fact to his viewers during his hour-long report.

Imagine the millions of viewers who would have appreciated to learn of a safe and effective non-drug, non-surgical option for their back pain. He would have helped millions of patients avoid the addiction to narcotics and the deadly dose he bemoans.

As well, any mention of chiropractic care on CNN would have been a PR boost for my profession; instead, due to his medical bias, it was a bust for both viewers and chiropractors.

I wrote a letter to both Clinton and CNN’s new president, Jeffery Zucker, complaining of Gupta’s shoddy journalism. When I received no reply, my book agent, David Johnson, telephoned CNN to discuss this obvious omission.

Inexplicably, the producer denounced my claims as “baseless accusations” despite the obvious oversight. Then my agent was told I had been “blackballed at CNN.”

“Blackballed” for protesting biased journalism? I believe this censorship by CNN is more newsworthy than Gupta’s original omission of chiropractic in his program. Apparently CNN does not follow the Fairness Doctrine to give equal time to opposing parties.

Dr. Gupta ducking the chiropractic solution to back pain is an excellent example of the prevailing medical apartheid in the media to show that he and CNN refuse to give chiropractors equal time to defend their profession.

Is this a “baseless accusation” or the obvious truth?

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Medical Media Malpractice

  • All Things Not Considered @ NPR 

As a lifetime member of NPR, even my six most favorite shows have been dismal about reporting on the chiropractic profession. Accounting at Highbeam.com shows only 13 articles on chiropractic have been aired in 185,069 segments on these NPR programs, which equates to a frequency rate of only 0.0070091%.

Despite being the 3rd largest physician-level health profession in the nation, chiropractic remains missing in the media. To pour salt into a wound, on Feb. 15, 2012, Morning Edition finally spoke about the use of CAM (chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage therapy) now being used in the military health services.

In this article, former flight surgeon Harriett Hall spewed a malicious epithet at these CAM professions, which isn’t her first. She’s become the heir-apparent to Morris Fishbein, her infamous predecessor in medical propaganda.

 Here’s part of the offensive excerpt:

But Harriet Hall, a former Air Force flight surgeon, shares the skepticism found in many corners of the medical community.

"We call that 'quack-ademic' medicine when it gets into medical schools," she says.

 She is obviously willfully ignorant of the science in spine care today. Her “quack” comment is wrong on many levels and her trash talk is unethical and misleading in light of the recent research supporting CAM methods. For some unknown reason, NPR gave this medical bigot a platform but did not offer the chiropractic profession an opportunity for rebuttal.

I wrote to the NPR reporter, Blake Farmer about Hall’s cheap shot and the lack of any counter-point, but got no response from him. I then wrote to his boss, Gary Knell, about his shoddy journalism, but also got no response. Apparently chiropractic care is not part of “All Things Considered” at NPR.

Again, is it not newsworthy to learn how even the progressive NPR refuses to give chiropractors a fair and balanced opportunity to defend themselves from medical cheap shots?

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Paradigm Shift in Spine Care 

  • Cover-up in Spine Care 

A huge shot across the medical bow occurred when comparative research began in spine care. In the 1970s, states conducting workers’ comp comparative studies found a 2:1 superiority rate for getting injured workers back on the job with chiropractic care over medical care for low back injuries. At the Wilk trial, testimony also revealed hospitals that used chiropractors got patients out in half the time and at a fraction of the cost of medical care.

However, the science remained scant supporting chiropractic spinal manipulation until the early 1990s when major studies (RAND, AHCPR, Manga, UK BEAM) all found more benefit from chiropractic care than from medical care for low back pain. In 1994, even the US Public Health Service listed spinal manipulation a “proven treatment” for acute low back pain in adults.

Another major breakthrough in spine care occurred in 1990 when MRI research by Scott Boden, MD, now director of the Spine Center at Emory University, debunked the discogenic theory when he found many people without back pain also had herniated or degenerated discs.

Richard Deyo, MD, MPH, also agreed that many of these disc abnormalities are “trivial, harmless, and irrelevant,” so much so they have been dubbed “incidentalomas,” equivalent to “finding gray hair” since both are part of the normal aging process.

Despite the new game-changing research, the most complex type of back surgery swelled dramatically between 2002 and 2007 with a 15-fold increase. JAMA reported the patient population increased by only 12%, but MRIs increased 307%, spinal fusion surgery increased 204%, spinal injections increased 629%, and opiate use increased 423%.

Dr. Deyo sounded his frustration: “People say, ‘I’m not going to put up with it,’ and we in the medical profession have turned to ever more aggressive medication, narcotic medication, and more invasive surgery.”

He also found America does five times more back surgery per capita than Great Britain. Even Dartmouth researchers suggest 40% of all back surgeries are unnecessary, which is probably a low-ball estimate. To say spine surgeons have gone wild is an understatement.

A recent study from Washington state workers comp compared patients with low back pain whose first provider was a chiropractor or a surgeon determined drastically different rates for surgery—42.7% of workers who first saw a surgeon had surgery in contrast to only 1.5% of those who saw a chiropractor.

This accumulating evidence is now changing policy at many insurance companies. North Carolina BC/BS announced it will no longer pay for disc fusion if the sole criterion is a bad disc. Even the North American Spine Society in 2010 recommended chiropractic care before spine surgery.

Tony Rosner, PhD, capsulated it best when he testified before The Institute of Medicine: “Today, we can argue that chiropractic care, at least for back pain, appears to have vaulted from last to first place as a treatment option.”

The biggest problem with this paradigm shift is no one on TV is telling the public. This oversight is not by chance, but by design.

For example, Sanjay Gupta is a neurosurgeon who undoubtedly knows of Dr. Boden’s breakthrough MRI research since he works alongside Boden at Emory, but he has never mentioned on CNN the substance of Boden’s important research discrediting the disc theory that could save millions of people from unnecessary spine surgery.

When I mentioned this fact in a letter to CNN, apparently they chose to disregard it as another “baseless accusation” rather than admitting it was biased journalism swayed by money and politics rather than the evidence.

Is it not newsworthy for CNN to present this monumental scientific paradigm shift in spine care or that Gupta has covered up this research that is right under his nose? Indeed, is Dr. Gupta untouchable or what?

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Paradigm Shift in Spine Care

  • Bitter Pill: Part 2 

After Steven Brill elaborated on the high cost of medical care in his TIME cover story, I expounded on two more follow-up questions in my article, Bitter Pill: Part 2:

1) Is medical care even effective, and

2) Are all surgeries necessary?

After a century of touting itself as “scientific medicine”, this notion of is now seen as a hoax considering 2,000 of 3,000 treatments have been shown to be ineffective,  unproven, or not worth the risk as reported in the British Medical Journal. The Washington Post revealed this startling fact a recent article: “Surprise! We don’t know if half our medical treatments work” by Sarah Kliff.

This shocking revelation is particularly true in the majority of medical spine care treatments as Mark Schoene admitted when he stated “Spinal medicine in the US is a poster child for inefficient spine care.”

His opinion came on the heels of numerous studies denouncing the use of narcotics, epidural shots, and spine fusions, yet these ineffective treatments continue to escalate. Hopefully soon medical spine care consisting of spine surgery, shots, and narcotics will be seen as the biggest scam in spine care.

Although medical care is the dominant form of treatment, the ineffectiveness of medical spine care and the huge salaries of spine surgeons “gone wild” have captured attention in the media.

Today, numerous medical experts admit these medical spine treatments are only applicable in 15% of the overall back pain cases that have pathoanatomical problems like cancer, fractures, serious infections or the rare ruptured disc case (1 in 100 cases) that require medical care.

On the other hand, chiropractic care and other CAM methods have proven to be safer, quicker, and less expensive for the 85% of cases of mechanical origin that are pathophysiological, not pathoanatomical, in nature.

In other words, how your spine functions is more important than how it looks on x-ray or MRI scans that find “incidentalomas”—anatomical findings like bad discs, bone spurs, etc., that are now considered part of the normal aging process in most patients.

The key to helping most back pain rests with joint function, not bad discs. Scientists now tell us there are more than 300 joints involved in the spinal column and experts admit joint dysfunction is the primordial problem in most back pain cases.

Long before discs herniate or degenerate and nerves become pinched, the 24 vertebrae and 3 pelvic bones in the spine misalign from childhood accidents, sports injuries, car wrecks, and later in life these spinal joints may buckle from compression as adults from prolong sitting in front of screens.

This scenario explains why anything that restores joint motion such as manipulation, traction, decompression, inversion tables, and stretching exercises are more effective than drugs, shots, and surgery that do not restore joint play.

Without question, the medical profession has knowingly ignored the paradigm shift in spine care that has refocused attention on chiropractic and CAM treatments over medical spine care for the 85% of mechanical low back cases.

Is it not newsworthy to the public to learn that medical spine care is considered “the poster child for inefficient spine care,” or the disc theory is basically dead, or that chiropractic care is now the best care for the 85% of mechanical back pain cases? I think so, but someone in the media needs to tell the public of this research revelation.

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Paradigm Shift in Spine Care

  • Neurophysiologic Disorders 

Another newsworthy controversy rages whether or not this brand of spine care is effective for Type O disorders—organic/visceral problems.

Any discussion into this area requires a high-tech understanding of biology called neurophysiology—how the nervous system controls function in all organs—which most MDs and lay people steeped in the outdated and simplistic germ theory certainly do not understand.

Lately, Dr. Ted Carrick at Life University has gotten much attention for his innovative work in this area of functional neurology. ABC Nightly News did a short program on his work.  Dr. Carrick first made headlines when he treated Sydney Crosby, NHL star, for his concussion and severe headaches.

Moreover, NFL star Peyton Manning has been seen recently on campus after his four neck fusion surgeries proved ineffective. Dr. Carrick recently told me at the ACA convention, “Come sit in my waiting room and you’ll see half of Hollywood.”

Is this not newsworthy for those people who have not responded to medical blood treatments but who may have nerve issues stemming from the spine?

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Paradigm Shift in Spine Care

  • Informed Consent 

By now you can see there is a huge need to inform the public to this paradigm shift in spine care because the medical profession still boycotts chiropractors despite the shift in research and recommendations in the international guidelines.

This boycott not only an ethical issue to Do No Harm, but also raises a legal point that is ignored by nearly all MDs. “Informed Consent” is law that demands treating physicians to inform patients of two issues:

1) Their diagnosis, proposed treatments, and possible risks, and

2) Any options and alternatives to their treatments and possible risks.

Instead, most patients are sold a ticket on the medical railroad—drugs, shots, and surgery—and told never to detour to chiropractors. Actually, many workers’ comp, military health services, and VA patients are told if they refuse being railroaded to spine surgery, they are considered malingerers who could lose their jobs if they want chiropractic care instead.

As a practitioner working next to Robins AFB, I have encountered this unethical and illegal situation repeatedly when spine cases are railroaded directly to spine surgeons and told they cannot see a chiropractor.

This is unconscionable in today’s environment of fairness and equality, and smacks of the medical tyranny that has resulted in the worst healthcare among industrialized nations. Indeed, America’s expensive and ineffective medical care has taken everyone over the healthcare cliff.

Despite the shift in spine care, medical doctors continue to misinform the public, most notably the online trolls at the Institute for Science in Medicine and its sidekick, Science-Based Medicine, clans for medical atheists and demagogues hiding behind the guise of science.

While it may come as a shock to many, the accusation that as many as sixty percent of doctors and scientists are atheists stems from the unnerving admission by Francis R. Collins, MD, presently the Director of the National Institutes of Health, and undoubtedly the most powerful MD in the nation today.

I contend it is very newsworthy that these renowned medical bigots and atheists are a big part of the problem in healthcare due to their incessant hate-mongering, their denial of a God-factor in the healing process, and their intransigence to evidence-based care.

“Don’t confuse us with the facts” is now their creed after decades of telling people chiropractic is an “unscientific cult.”

Indeed, they proudly carry on the Fishbein tradition of medical bigotry to the detriment of their own profession, to chiropractic care, and to millions of people misled by their demagoguery.

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Paradigm Shift in Spine Care:

  • CAM: Not So Alternative Anymore 

Alternative health care in America is at an all-time high with patients making more visits to non-MDs according to surveys conducted by Dr. Daniel Eisenberg of Harvard. In fact, in 1997, his survey revealed Americans, mostly college-educated baby boomers, made 629 million office visits to chiropractors, nutritionists, massage therapists, etc., compared to only 386 million office visits to medical doctors, and spent $30 billion on alternative treatments, according to a recent Harvard study.

As Dr. Eisenberg concluded, Maybe ‘alternative’ isn’t so alternative anymore.”

Since CAM treatments are growing, I sent a letter to Sanjay Gupta at CNN urging him to consider a regular show on CAM:

CNN would do the nation a huge service to have a regular series on different approaches such as the different spinal therapies done by chiropractors to help not only with the back pain epidemic, but with other health concerns and alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, to name but a few. There is a treasure trove of possibilities to explore in the wide world of complementary and alternative medicine, a ripe opportunity presently ignored by the mass media.

 As usual, my suggestion was ignored. Certainly Big Pharma that sponsors all of Gupta’s programs is not interested in its leading spokesman to promote non-drug solutions despite the growing popularity. Nor is Dr. Gupta, a neurosurgeon, interested in promoting chiropractic care, the main rival to his spine surgery colleagues for many cases.

Once again Dr. Gupta shows his lack of impartiality and fair journalism with the denial to give viewers alternatives to their healthcare treatments.

Certainly, the Fairness Doctrine is ignored at CNN in regards to objective journalism in this matter, and as long as Dr. Gupta remains the lead medical reporter at CNN, his medical bias will continue to limit viewers’ understanding of many healthcare issues.

Is it not newsworthy that effective and popular CAM treatments are not promoted by CNN, a network that promotes itself as the “most trusted name in news”?

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Conclusion 

It’s past time to shift spine care management to chiropractors as America’s primary spine care providers.

However, before this good news about chiropractic care is palatable to the public, the stigma against chiropractors—the proverbial 800-pound elephant—must be addressed.

Chiropractors cannot win in the court of public opinion unless we can:

  • challenge the prevailing “perceived wisdom”,
  • confront the "acceptable" medical bigotry,
  • meet head-on the journalistic bias,
  • push back on the outright slurs in the media,
  • reveal the paradigm shift in spine care, and
  • tout our clinical and cost-effectiveness.

Certainly these goals will never happen as long as chiropractors have no voice in the media. Other than a few brief anecdotal stories on Dr. Oz, for instance, never has the chiropractic profession had the opportunity to tell its story to the public in a consistent manner.

While chiropractors certainly cannot help every condition, we can definitely help solve the #1 disabling condition in the nation if given open access to compete on a level playing field, but that requires fair journalism, too.

As I mentioned in my preface, my hope is to find a few newsmen who understand the value of chiropractic care, see the need for free enterprise in healthcare, as well as understand the importance of fair journalism.

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