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So You Want Evidence?

Chiropractors affront a variety of challenges daily. None, however, in the current climate that demands proof, demands evidence, are so challenging as our communication problems. 
Describe something that is life changing, that merits every superlative imaginable.  Mere hyperbole is insufficient to express the potential of this thing. Now, do so in a way that seems real, compelling, and inspires action. It’s tricky. 
This is the conundrum we face as chiropractors. The chiropractic adjustment is so powerful, can change lives, can facilitate the most profound healing, yet it is so easy that it can seem “too good to be true.”  Our culture has become complacent its use of superlatives such that they don’t really mean much anymore. If a Jamba Juice smoothie is “awesome,” or a new pair of sneakers are “life changing,” then how do we articulate what happens, the miracles, that we witness on a daily basis in our chiropractic practices? 

People are unpredictable. Bodies are dynamic

Decades ago our profession made a choice, give small bits of digestible information. We make the adjustment, we make chiropractic, smaller, so people can grasp it, so they can find a practical purpose for it. How does this translate in chirospeak?
Headaches? Yes, regular chiropractic care can help headaches! Back pain, you betcha, there are STUDIES that can verify the success of chiropractic in alleviating back pain. Posture? Yes! And we even have more studies to verify postural change as a result of chiropractic care. Talk about changes to digestion, fertility, sleep, quality of life, liver function, asthma, autism and the literature, however, becomes very sparse. The scarcity of scientific literature related to chiropractic and these conditions reflects two problems. The first is the difficulty in producing studies that take a multifactorial set of symptoms and apply linear scientific logic. People are unpredictable. Bodies are dynamic. Human systems and healing is non-linear.  Current scientific studies are not reflective of the reality of a vitalistic chiropractic office in which the chiropractor is not applying the adjustment as a therapeutic modality to obtain a specific result. In the vitalistic office, the chiropractic adjustment is offered to bring ease to the nervous system, which then assists the body to self regulate in a way that is conducive to its healing.  Most double blind randomized studies have to be based on mechanistic processes, predictable forces that apply a consistent input to a closed system. This isn’t how our artful and intuitive adjustments work, it isn’t how our offices actually work, it isn’t how healing happens, and it certainly isn’t how chiropractic “works.” The second problem is that the majority of chiropractors who truly understand the potential of chiropractic aren’t willing to dedicate their time to double blind randomized controlled studies that measure various factors that are trackable. They are out there watching the magic unfurl on the table, and serving the adjustment. It is messy, unpredictable, the healing is often measurable in ways that seemingly have nothing and yet everything to do with the symptomatology, because the healing process is entirely non linear. These chiropractors want to be on the front lines, serving as many people as they can. 
Our culture wants evidence based chiropractic. You want evidence? Good, sit and talk to people who receive chiropractic care and be amazed at how their health profile changes. I am still amazed every day, and I have been in practice for twenty years. Talk to parents who have watched their kids reach milestones that seemed impossible. Talk to couples in the practice who couldn’t conceive as they hold their new baby. Talk to people who couldn’t leave the house because of IBS and now forget they ever were scared that they would soil their pants. Talk to the kid that couldn’t focus in school and now is on the honor roll. Ask to see pictures of the dad that couldn’t walk who, two weeks later, walked his daughter down the aisle. Talk to the mom whose labor was stalled then was threatened with a c-section, who called her chiropractor. The chiropractor came and adjusted her and her baby was born 50 minutes later. Talk to the parents who were told that their kid had to wear a helmet for their child’s brachycephaly, who, after two visits of the most gentle touches to the skull, the baby’s head became round and gorgeous. Talk to the opiate addict who stopped using because they were no longer in pain.  Talk to anyone in the reception room and ask them their story. That is all the evidence that I need to understand that the chiropractic adjustment cannot be narrowed to one purpose, to one kind of suffering, to one sort of outcome, and to know, on a cellular level, that chiropractic works.
If we each take on the challenge of writing, of expressing in a video, of publishing a testimonial in some format, every week, the discourse related to chiropractic will shift to reflect the reality of what we see in our offices. Imagine if each of us posted with regularity, a success story from practice. We don’t need to put bells and whistles on it, just tell the story. Week after week, office after office.  Studies won’t ever be able to prove what we already know anecdotally and experientially: that people’s lives are exponentially better when they are well adjusted. I can’t wait to hear what you have to share. 

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