During the 20th century, chiropractors established themselves as the experts in the recognition and correction of structural deviations from normal. The chiropractic profession has survived the slings and arrows of its detractors by producing consistent results for relief of back pain, headaches, sprains and strains, and many other structural problems. Important contributions have been made in the management of sports injuries, occupational or ergonomic problems, rehabilitation, and personal injury. However, recognizing and correcting structural problems is only half of the issue; deviations from normal function must also be diagnosed and the cause identified before treatment can be effective.
Chiropractors continue to produce amazing results in the treatment of such common maladies as digestive problems, allergies, anxiety and depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, poor immune function, and arthritic aches and pains. However, the profession seems to lack the diagnostic acumen or diagnostic paradigm to produce consistent results in these areas of functional or viscero-somatic disorders.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1994, the American public felt that medicine was ineffective in treating the above-mentioned symptoms. While somewhat surprising, this information spurred the pharmaceutical industry into lobbying Congress to allow direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs on television, in newspapers, and in magazines without revealing all the dangerous side effects associated with these drugs. This industry now spends much more on advertising than it does on research and development, a fact that continues to increase the price of these remedies. Despite the pharmaceutical industry’s best efforts, I doubt that the American public feels any different now than they did then.
I am not out to denigrate the pharmaceutical industry. Medicine has already proven they are ineffective in the treatment of symptoms in the absence of measurable test results indicating a disease process. But, what of the drugless healing professions, like chiropractic? How effective are we at recognizing deviations from normal function and identifying the causes? Throwing remedies at symptoms simply doesn’t work consistently. Relief only comes when the cause is identified; only then does the treatment become obvious. So, what do you have to see before you know what to do about indigestion, heartburn, gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea?
The continuum from health to disease is usually a long one, particularly for chronic degenerative diseases and the leading causes of death. Heart attack, stroke, cancer, chronic pulmonary disease, and diabetes require prevention, according to the Surgeon General’s Report on Health and Nutrition. Symptoms of visceral dysfunction can persist for years as evidence of exhaustion of normal body processes and biochemical pathways.
Health -> Appearance of Symptoms -> Recognizable Disease
There are many more “walking wounded” not receiving appropriate healthcare than there are diseased patients requiring medical care.
Until medicine can identify a specific disease process, it must rely on statistical data to practice what is mistakenly referred to as “preventive medicine.” But chiropractors should be trained in the recognition of not only somato-visceral dysfunctions, but also viscero-somatic dysfunctions. Such an approach allows the practitioner to tailor-make a health plan for each individual, not for an average of the total population. During my seminars, I often ask if there are any average people in the audience and, of course, I have yet to find one. Why do we allow drugs with dangerous side effects to be given for relief of symptoms without first identifying the cause?
Consider this: the biggest sellers for the pharmaceutical industry are anti-inflammatory drugs and antacids or proton-pump inhibitors. If we turn off the production of stomach acid for 24 hours or even neutralize it temporarily, what body process will make up for that normal function? The only normal body process that can is your immune system. It responds by producing symptoms of heat (fever), redness, swelling, or pain. If you now take an anti-inflammatory drug, what are the long-term consequences? My point is that you cannot maintain health or restore normal function using drugs (either recreational or prescription). Drugs should be reserved for the treatment of an identifiable disease process and lifesaving emergencies.
Medicine and the pharmaceutical industry have left the door open for chiropractic to step into the area of symptom-related disorders. And it is time for chiropractic to become as recognized for its effective treatment of symptoms arising from functional or visceral symptoms as it is for structural problems. But, in order to achieve this, we need a legally defensible, scientifically sound and accepted method of determining the cause of visceral dysfunctions.
I will be speaking at the Chiropractic 2006 gathering in Panama in February, where I will present a quick and convenient exam for identifying patients who are locked in the cascade of physiological events associated with stress. More importantly, I will show you how to identify those who are not responding appropriately to stress and are exhausting their normal health-maintaining processes. I hope to see you there to continue this discussion. In the meantime, consider what it would mean to you and your patients if they knew you could recognize an impending health problem specific to them and truly prevent its appearance.
Dr. Loomis welcomes your comments or questions through the Loomis InstituteTM at 6421 Enterprise Lane, Madison, WI 53719 or by phone at 800-662-2630.