Historically, chiropractic care has been well known for its beneficial role in alleviating back pain and headaches, as well as improving athletic performance. However, little attention is given to the holistic approach of chiropractic care. This is most likely due to the introduction of third party reimbursement (insurance) in the 1980’s. This era of medicine was cleverly termed the “Mercedes 80s.” The chiropractic board fought for recognition in “modern” medicine. Validation was eventually given through acceptance into the insurance game. Unfortunately, many doctors of chiropractic (D.C.), and other medical specialties, fell into the trap of only performing those services for which the patient had coverage, i.e. the spinal adjustment. This led to the abandonment of, what we know it as today, natural medicine or functional medicine. Concentration on spinal pain became mainstream marketing for chiropractors.
Currently, there are many different facets in the Chiropractic field, with over 100 different techniques, all with the same goal in mind: restoration of human health.
Personally, I was always intrigued with natural medicine. The idea of actually fixing something versus alleviating symptoms was something I gravitated towards. Even from a very early age, I liked to tinker on cars. I knew a good solid exhaust weld beat some tin foil and a band clamp for an exhaust leak and replacing a section of roof shingles was far superior to slapping some tar on old ones.
Chiropractic Internist, explained:
Now back to the question at hand…what is a chiropractic internist? First, a chiropractic internist is a doctor of chiropractic that has gone through a comprehensive, postgraduate course and testing to achieve board certification from the American Board of Chiropractic Internists. This Chiropractic Internist Program was created to marry the original paradigm of chiropractic (that the body is one complete entity and each and every organ is interconnected) with today’s modern advancements in diagnoses and treatment. Utilizing blood work, physical exam, stool analysis, urine analysis, and many more diagnostics modalities, a chiropractic internist formulates a comprehensive treatment plan based off of clinical symptoms and hard evidence.
How we treat
Treatments come in the form of natural therapies such as herbs, homeopathics, vitamins, and minerals. Often, lifestyle changes, such as exercise and dietary alterations, are put into motion, along with stress management techniques. We truly try to hit every aspect of a patient’s life. We use supplements and remedies to jump-start a particular biochemical pathway or support detoxification, for instance, while patients work with lifestyle modifications. By performing in this way we are gearing up to “maintain the gain” in hopes that one day we can completely remove our therapy and the patient remains healthy and resistant to future complications or re-infections. Many chiropractic internists still perform spinal and extremity joint adjustments as well as soft tissue therapies and rehabilitation. This truly builds a holistic platform from which the patient is given the greatest chance of long-term success.
As natural medicine practitioners, we are often seen as early adopters or even inventors of therapies and diagnostics; often times, taking recent theories or research and applying them into clinical practice right away. This is not to say that we are reckless in our approach, quite the contrary! We try to develop treatment methods that address concerns where traditional medicine has had no benefit. Many times this leads us back to a fundamental flaw in a specific pathway that we learn to recognize even before its manifestation as “disease.” I feel we assume this authority of “early adoption” due to our relatively safe, non-toxic treatment approaches. A properly trained doctor in natural medicine is well aware of the cost-benefit ratios of his/her therapies, as well as interactions it may have with pre-existing treatments. If there is a therapy that we feel carries a greater risk to the patient, we most surely postpone the adoption of a new technique or theory until stronger data is available.
Benefits of working with Chiropractic Internists
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of natural medicine is its honest attempt at being curative for the disease process. Let’s look at one of the hottest disease trends in our society: autoimmunity (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, etc). Traditional medical treatment has failed in the treatment of autoimmune disease. This statement is not intended to be demeaning. It is simply fact.
The cause of fibromyalgia, and many other autoimmune diseases, is now well recognized as being a microbe-induced disease (more on this in another article). This theory is supported in the research and the results speak for themselves in clinical practice. Specific numbers have not been calculated, but in our office we have over 90% success with the resolution of symptoms, even after treatment is removed. Studies show that many drugs on the market for autoimmune diseases produce a poor success rate and can be more harmful than the disease itself.
Not just anyone is trained in the safe and effective administration of natural therapies, which, unfortunately, is often how it is often perceived. There are countless weekend seminars, certifications and “degrees” that are awarded to individuals with minimal training. This is not to say that just because someone isn’t a doctor that they are not intelligent. I have many patients that have taken the time to teach themselves about their bodies and conditions because their previous doctors have failed to do so. What I am saying is that you need to do your research about the practitioner that you trust with the health of you and your family. As mentioned previously, a lot of the natural therapies do not pose a direct negative effect, but if given improperly their ineffectiveness can be just as dangerous as negative side effects. Improper administration of natural therapies may allow a disease process to continue with the false confidence of proper treatment. Alluding to a cure of a disease with no results, leaves a patient emotionally frustrated and financially inconvenienced. This gives a very poor perception of natural medicine that may dissuade the patient from attempting it again with a different practitioner that carries higher knowledge or a different perspective that can truly help them.
In my opinion, chiropractic internists are some of the most well equipped medical practitioners. They are trained and have the ability to recognize and treat chronic complex conditions. Although a rare breed, with less than 300 active Chiropractic Internists across the country, you will find that they often spend 60-90 minutes on the initial visit taking a detailed history. It is also not uncommon for follow-up visits to last nearly an hour! Their recommendations are based off of sound scientific diagnostic labs (LabCorp, Quest, etc) that are popular and rooted in functional medicine. Their treatments are relatively safe and extremely effective with a patient-centered approach. The number one benefit of a chiropractic internist, is that we specialize in people and listening to our patients. Both of those qualities seem simple enough yet have been dismissed from traditional medicine for one reason or another.