TO: Georgia Health News
RE: “How chiropractors can win the war against the AMA?”
FROM: JC Smith, MA, DC
Chiropractors Shall Overcome
Most people realize there has been a medical war against chiropractors—they’ve heard the hate-mongering from MDs and they’ve read the negative articles from biased reporters—they just don’t understand the truth of the matter or why this war lingers on today.
Victories in Legislation & Litigation
Despite being over 110 years old and the third-largest, physician-level health profession, people do not realize that chiropractors treat the #1 disabling condition in the world—back pain—that 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.
According to Scott Haldeman, MD, DC, PhD, a leading inter-professional spine expert: “Spinal disorders have a greater impact than HIV/AIDs, malaria, lower respiratory infections, stroke, breast and lung cancer combined, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression or traffic injuries.”
The reason this pandemic of pain is huge is due to the medical war to thwart the growth of chiropractic care in lieu of its narcotic painkillers, epidural shots, and spine fusions, none have proven clinically effective. In fact, 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.”
The American Chiropractic Association has battled on Capitol Hill and in the courtrooms with great success in terms of expanding coverage in Medicare, the VA, military health services, and workers comp program.
Obamacare will also protect coverage for all CAM (complementary and alternative medical care) in Section 2706, the non-discrimination clause, to give patients freedom of choice in healthcare as well as to protect “minority” health professions from the monolithic AMA.
Truth v. Medical Fiction
Although the chiropractic profession has won many battles in legislation and litigation, chiropractors have not won in the court of public opinion—the final battleground in this medical war.
Once the researchers began taking a closer look at chiropractic care in the early 1990s, the facts about chiropractic were found to be quite different than the medical propaganda.
In 1993, Canadian health economist Pran Manga, PhD, showed in his comparative studies that chiropractic care could save billions and help millions of patients with spine-related disorders. “There is an overwhelming body of evidence indicating that chiropractic management of low back pain is more cost-effective than medical management.”
In 1994, the US Public Health Service listed spinal manipulation as a “proven treatment” for acute low back pain in adults.
In 2003, Dr. Tony Rosner, PhD, 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.”
Today, every international guideline on chronic and acute low back pain recommends chiropractic care before narcotic drugs, epidural shots, and spine surgery the majority of cases.
The Seeds of Medical Bias
Unfortunately, few in the public have heard about this newfound appreciation for chiropractic care due to the ingrained prejudice seeded by the AMA that once dispersed in the 1960s Quack Packs to misinform journalists.
Chiropractors have been called quacks, accused of practicing pseudo-science, and their methods have been deemed dangerous. Although these issues were never proven to be true in the landmark Wilk v. AMA federal antitrust lawsuit, they remain an insidious part of Americans’ perceived wisdom about chiropractic.
While many Americans have encountered discrimination in their lives, few understand the prevailing prejudice about chiropractors is the fabrication of medical propaganda. Even Ann Landers, the nationally syndicated columnist of Ask Ann Landers, was discovered at trial in 1976 to be on the AMA’s payroll to disseminate misinformation about chiropractors.
Professional Amnesia or Bias?
An example today of medical bias in news reporting was witnessed at CNN in Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s latest exposé, Deadly Dose. Former President Bill Clinton asked Gupta to do a program on the abuse of narcotic painkillers that caused the death of his friend’s son who mixed OxyContin with alcohol and never woke up.
Dr. Gupta reported that nearly 38,000 people die annually from this Hillbilly Heroin epidemic, and two-thirds of those who died were taking painkillers for back pain.
Ostensibly, viewers might presume Dr. Gupta was searching for a non-drug solution to this back pain epidemic, but he failed to mention chiropractic care, America’s leading non-drug, non-surgical treatment for back pain.
His boycott of the chiropractic profession typifies the medical bias we see in the news media. For example, even NPR has developed a bad case of professional amnesia about chiropractic care. Being an NPR supporter for nearly thirty years myself, I sent my book to my favorite shows without any response, even from All Things Considered.
When I researched the frequency of chiropractic as a topic on my favorite NPR programs, I was startled by the findings:
· All Things Considered: 8 of 87,252 = 0.009%
· Morning Edition: 4 of 79,782 = 0.005%
· Talk of the Nation Science Friday: 0 of 1,918 = 0.0%
· Weekend All Things Considered: 0 of 5,346 = 0.0%
· Fresh Air: 0 of 1,286 = 0.0%
· Talk of the Nation: 1 of 9,485 since 1997 = 0.01054%
This accounting shows only 13 articles on chiropractic in 185,069 segments on these six NPR programs which equates to a frequency rate of only 0.0070091%. Apparently, chiropractic is not among all things considered by NPR.
As someone who believes in fair journalism, it is disturbing to witness that two of the more liberal news organizations, CNN and NPR, have shown a huge bias against chiropractors in this era of evidence-based healthcare.
Until this media stranglehold stops, Americans may never understand the war against chiropractors or the benefits we bring to the table. Until medical news becomes fair and balanced, Americans will continue to suffer from the epidemic of back pain and suffer from ineffective, dangerous, disabling, and often deadly narcotics, epidural steroid injections, and unnecessary spine surgery.
JC Smith, MA, DC, is a 33-year practicing chiropractor, author of The Medical War Against Chiropractors, and he maintains a website, Chiropractors for Fair Journalism.
 Peter W. Crownfield, Back Pain Is #1 Cause of Disability Worldwide, Global Burden of Disease 2010 highlights the pressing need to prevent, treat spinal and musculoskeletal disorders. Dynamic Chiropractic – February 15, 2013, Vol. 31, Issue 04
 Scott Haldeman, Analysis of Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 Impact of Spinal and MSK Disorders, The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States Bone and Joint Decade, Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. ISBN 978-0-89203-533-5, pp. 21.
 The BACKPage editorial vol. 27, No. 11, November 2012.
 P Manga, D Angus, C Papadopoulos, W Swan, “The Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Chiropractic Management of Low Back Pain,” (funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health) (August, 1993):104
 Bigos et al. US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Clinical Practice Guideline, Number 14: Acute Low Back Problems in Adults AHCPR Publication No. 95-0642, (December 1994)
 Testimony before The Institute of Medicine: Committee on Use of CAM by the American Public on Feb. 27, 2003.