Chirophobia & Other Skeletons in the Medical Closet
Recently there has been much ado about a pro basketball player coming out of the closet. Jason Collins of the Washington Wizards NBA team has become the first athlete for a major U.S. team to reveal he’s gay. The accolades for his “coming out” has been widespread from other pro players to former President Clinton to President Obama who said “he was impressed by his courage.”
Collins is not the first player to come out of the closet. Tennis great Martina Navratilova came out in 1981. Greg Louganis, who won four Olympic gold medals for the U.S. over his diving career, has been openly gay since 1995. In 2012, Orlando Cruz became the first active professional fighter to publicly announce that he was gay. And the list goes on with many athletes of lesser known stature who must feel better that their sexual preference will not stymie their careers.
President Bill Clinton released his statement soon after the Collins announcement went online. “I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea’s classmate and friend at Stanford. Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community. It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities.”
The wind of social change against old prejudices has suddenly become a gale force, foremost with the help of a friendly media that speaks of Collins’ courage to come out and praising the relief he felt as a person being true to himself.
As a nation, “we’ve come a long way, baby,” in a very short amount of time about sexual preference and gender equality. It seems just a few years ago being LGBT was taboo in the conservative news media and Congress, but now it is portrayed as chic.
We’ve seen other examples of this diametrical change in attitude toward sexual equality with the legalization of gay marriage, women in the military, and the rescinding of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that now protects gays in the military.
Slamming the Door on Chiropractors
The social acceptance of sexual diversity and gender equality comes at a time when past “acceptable prejudices” are on the wane except for one notable omission—the medical bigotry toward chiropractors—who are still subjected to unfair prejudice by medical detractors, ostracized online by medical trolls, marginalized with the “wither on the vine” policies in the healthcare system, and virtually ignored in the media.
Indeed, just when will the medical closet be opened for chiropractors? Although LGBT people are allowed to come out of the closet, women are allowed to break the glass ceiling, racial minorities are fully protected, the AMA keeps the door closed for chiropractors who want to offer a choice in health preferences to the public.
So, let me ask when will the protection of health preferences be fully implemented? When will DCs be applauded like Jason Collins for the courage to have fought the 100-year war against the medical bigotry?
This may be an excellent time to do just that with the implementation of Obamacare and Section 2706.
Here is one novel way to raise this issue in the media. Since sexual preference is now the chic issue in the news, I think we should jump on this bandwagon with a news release about gay chiropractors who want to come out, too.
That ought to get the media’s attention since nothing else seems to help, such as the paradigm shift in spine care guidelines, the deaths, addiction, expense, and ineffectiveness of medical spine care, or the current healthcare mess caused by the medical monopoly.
Aside from the sexual stigma our LGBT chiro colleagues may have endured, we can combine that prejudice with the general medical bigotry and media disinformation every DC encounters daily.
You know the standard medical trash talk—chiropractors are dangerous rabid dogs who practice as an unscientific cult that causes strokes and paralyzes patients. Yada, yada, yada.
This medical hate speech is so ridiculous in today’s atmosphere of tolerance that I would love to hear the AMA hate-mongers repeat it now to the media. I believe the public would cringe. Even the most ardent medical media newsmen would have a hard time disseminating their drivel to the public, unless it happens to be Sanjay Gupta at CNN who has proven himself to be unashamedly biased toward chiropractors.
This may be the angle we DCs need to break the code of silence in the media by announcing gay chiros, like all gay people, are trying to come out of the closet, too. Perhaps our LGBT colleagues can lead the way followed by the rest of our profession demanding equality, fairness, and freedom of choice in healthcare preferences.
Indeed, the chiropractic profession wants out of its forced containment in the medical closet that the AMA keeps slamming shut. Similar to the “homophobia” that kept millions in the sexual orientation closet, the medical profession’s “chirophobia” has kept the image of chiropractors entrenched in exclusion, controversy, and degradation.
If not for the century-long defamation campaign by the AMA to keep chiropractors in its closet, as Bill Clinton said, we too would be better able to “be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities.”
Follow the Money
Perhaps the biggest difference between discrimination against chiropractors and the sexual orientation of LGBT folks is one huge reason—a nearly $300 billion annual spine care industry.
First of all, the AMA has a manufactured image to maintain as the so-called “guardians of health.” As authors Wolinsky and Brune mentioned in their book, The Serpent on the Staff, Americans had best awake to realize the AMA is not an altruistic medical organization dedicated to the betterment of patients, research or education; in fact, it is a virtual monopoly that should be branded as “AMA, Inc.”
Indeed, money is its real concern rather than the smokescreen of “guardians of patient safety” or falsely accusing all rivals of quackery. This explains the AMA’s lack of tolerance for any profession with a different orientation than drugs, shots, and surgery. It is a scam that has persisted way too long and needs to be confronted.
Whereas no one profits by Jason Collins coming out, if chiropractors were unencumbered by the medical boycott and defamation, we would capture a huge part of this back pain market considering the experts’ opinion that 85% of back pain is mechanical, not anatomical, in nature.
In no way does the medical cartel want those pesky chiropractors to become acceptable in the minds of millions of Americans during this epidemic of back pain that could save the healthcare system billions of dollars if DCs were used as America’s primary spine care providers as they should be.
In fact, I contend the main reason why back pain is the #1 disabling condition in the world is due to the medical war against chiropractors. Imagine if the AMA had waged the same defamation against dentists, Americans’ smiles would be as bad as the spines we chiropractors see daily.
Even the North American Spine Society, the bastion of those uber-wealthy spine surgeons, has given tacit approval of chiropractors as primary spine care providers, a point lost to the public but one we need to emphatically reiterate.
The NASS clearly stated spine fusion should be a last resort:
Unfortunately, current techniques to precisely identify which of the many structures in the spine could be the source of a patient’s back or neck pain are not perfect. Because it can be so hard to locate the source of pain, treatment of back or neck pain alone by spinal fusion is somewhat controversial. Fusion under these conditions is usually viewed as a last resort and should be considered only after other conservative (nonsurgical) measures have failed. 
The admission by NASS that fusion should be a last resort preceded by conservative care is a huge warning that has been unheard by the public. In this era of rising healthcare costs, one would think the media would be keen on this cost-savings that chiropractic offers, but apparently not when Big Pharma pays the bills of medical reporters like Dr. Gupta.
More surprisingly, the spine researchers again admitted that spinal manipulation should be considered before surgery in the October, 2010, edition of The Spine Journal:
Several RCTs (random controlled trials) have been conducted to assess the efficacy of SMT (spinal manipulative therapy) for acute LBP (low back pain) using various methods. Results from most studies suggest that 5 to 10 sessions of SMT administered over 2 to 4 weeks achieve equivalent or superior improvement in pain and function when compared with other commonly used interventions, such as physical modalities, medication, education, or exercise, for short, intermediate, and long-term follow-up. Spine care clinicians should discuss the role of SMT as a treatment option for patients with acute LBP who do not find adequate symptomatic relief with self-care and education alone.
Despite the call for evidence-based best practices, the mainstream medical society has never had the honesty to tell the public of this paradigm shift in spine care and referrals to DCs have not improved. In other words, the door to the medical closet stays closed to chiropractors despite the evidence. “Don’t confuse us with the facts” remains the medical mantra when it comes to spine care.
Skeletons in the Medical Closet
Hidden far from public view are skeletons of embarrassing issues in the medical closet that reveal the medical profession’s sordid history of prejudice, deception, and dirty tricks.
Wouldn’t it be delightful just to hear the AMA admit to its own lies and transgressions?
- “Yes, we lied about the danger of tobacco for 56 years because they paid us millions to push their cigarettes.”
- “Yes, we lied about endorsing Sunbeam products because we never actually tested them.”
- “Yes, we lied about chiropractors because they practiced differently, some spoke of vitalism, and they all competed directly for the lucrative back pain market.”
- “Yes, we refused to let black physicians in the AMA and only apologized because a black candidate, Barack Obama, was soon to be elected.”
- “Yes, we lied about being ‘scientific medicine’ considering two-thirds of the 3,000 medical treatments analyzed were shown by the British Medical Journal to be “ineffective, unproven, or not worth the risk.” The Washington Post revealed this startling fact a recent article: “Surprise! We don’t know if half our medical treatments work”.
- “Lastly, we continue to disregard the call for equality and freedom of choice in healthcare by passing Resolution 241 that calls for the repeal of Section 2706 in Obamacare, the non-discrimination clause that would allow patients to seek the care of any licensed provider.”
Few people realize the numerous skeletons in the AMA’s closet that reveal the long lineage of questionable ethics in the AMA’s track record. Indeed, since the AMA is considered “the most terrifying trade association on earth,” to fight the might of the AMA with its war chest of money funding political dirty tricks and media disinformation, it is a battle unlike any other profession has had to endure.
So, the same old slow dance continues if the AMA has its way. Free enterprise is thwarted, freedom of choice is denied to patients, a new direction in healthcare is co-opted, and other than 50 million more Americans who will have access to Obamacare, in effect, it may be just more of the same old and ineffective medical care.
Certainly if one gay basketball player can come out of the closet with popular support, if women and the LGBT community in the military now are protected from discrimination, if gay marriage is now legal in many states, and if the movie, 42, featuring the life of Jackie Robinson, teaches the racial struggle of this courageous Dodger, why can’t the chiropractic profession jump on this wave of social change?
Perhaps we chiropractors should embrace a statement by MLK, Jr. who said it best: “Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
Somewhere at sometime with someone this message will resonate with the media and the public that will understand that we chiropractors have fought this 100-year war for their benefit. This story from persecution to vindication is a great tale that we need to take to the nation, and opening the medical closet may be the best opportunity we now have.
 Clintons, White House welcome announcement from friend Jason Collins, Posted by CNN Political Unit, April 29, 2013
 Wolinsky, H and Brune, T, The Serpent on the Staff, Putnam Book, New York, 1994, p. viii.
 “Spinal Fusion,” North American Spine Society Public Education Series, www.spine.org/documents/fusion
 MD Freeman and JM Mayer “NASS Contemporary Concepts in Spine Care: Spinal Manipulation Therapy For Acute Low Back Pain,” The Spine Journal 10/10 (October 2010):918-940
 M Mayer, “The Rise and Fall of Dr. Fishbein,” Harper’s Magazine, 199/1194 (Nov. 1949): p. 76.