Is chiropractic a complementary or alternative specialty?
By Maria DiDanieliFeatures Clinical Patient Care
Some linguistic experts argue that
language limits the extent to which members of a so-called “linguistic
community” can think about topics. Others feel the opposite – that
language develops to reflect notions previously encoded into the mind
Some linguistic experts argue that language limits the extent to which members of a so-called “linguistic community” can think about topics. Others feel the opposite – that language develops to reflect notions previously encoded into the mind. Either way, linguistic theories suggest that the terminology used to describe an entity – for example, classifying chiropractic as a complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) – relates to society’s impressions, regarding that entity, perhaps even influencing how that entity is perceived (and, therefore, when it is sought out.) Are these semantic considerations trivial? Clinical experience and a growing body of research demonstrate that chiropractic should be a first line of defence in many situations. What does the persisting application of the classification CAM, to chiropractic, demonstrate about the profession’s role in health and wellness?
But, you may say, we do not term the profession alternative, or complementary. Fair enough.
If you look at the scientific literature regarding chiropractic, you will find a number of papers wherein it is still termed CAM, even when chiropractors are involved in, or are the focus of, the studies. This is particularly true when the primary author(s) are not chiropractors themselves. Furthermore, when medical-based researchers – even those whose work advocates for natural therapies – present to, or about chiropractors, they often use the term CAM as a descriptive for the profession. In other words, although the term is not used within the profession, it is still applied to chiropractic from without. One year ago, our research issue discussed the emergence of chiropractors as leaders in their areas of expertise, especially in the context of interdisciplinary teamwork. Can this leadership not also involve guiding other professionals to the use of more appropriate nomenclature when referring to chiropractic?
In this issue, Canadian Chiropractor features Dr. Jerome Fryer, an independent chiropractor who took a concept from his clinic and turned it into a research project that is being published in a medical journal. We will hear from Dr. Louise Marcotte, who is involved, within a multidisciplinary effort, in the development of flexible bracing as a treatment of spinal misalignments in both adolescents and adults. Dr. Jaspar Sidhu educates us about the work being done by chiropractic in vibration therapy. Dr. Marshall Dickholtz Sr. discusses his NUCCA/hypertension study’s journey from private practice to medical publication. Dr. Barbara Sturm returns to offer advice about conversing with patients to better educate them on chiropractic, and Brandi MacDonald teaches DCs to encourage their CHAs to become chiropractic advocates. What do these contributors have in common? They are bringing chiropractic to the scientific and medical communities, and the general public, on terms guided by the profession, and in language that places chiropractic on equal footing with other disciplines.
The time has come for DCs to redirect the perception others have regarding chiropractic. This involves re-educating those you aspire to work with. No one else is mandated to do this, and no one can do it better than doctors of chiropractic. You comprise a primary health-care profession, and only as such should you strive to be referred to, in any context.
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