Who Taught Steven Salzburg About Chiropractic?

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A Forbes magazine article written by Steven Salzburg declares that $496 million was “wasted” on Medicare payments to chiropractors in 2013. Though Salzburg seems to have a personal problem with chiropractic, he may be on to something. Much of the money spent on supposed “chiropractic care” is indeed wasted, but maybe it is because the Medicare system pays chiropractors to treat eligible people’s eligible symptoms on a very limited basis. The problem is that chiropractic care is not for symptom treatment. Chiropractic care is about keeping people’s brain-body neurological connection clear, free from unnecessary, abnormal pressure.


If the brain-body neurological connection was severed at the C1 level, death is instantaneous. If C1 itself was fractured, the entire body would be paralyzed (e.g. the late Christopher Reeves). Those are facts that require no scientific study, something Salzburg believes – and rightly so – that chiropractic is lacking in. What if the same upper cervical spine is twisted and stuck for years? Might it not put some undue, abnormal pressure on the delicate neurological connection? What would be the effect on the human body? Might it weaken the body? Should a study be undertaken to prove it?

Chiropractic spinal adjustments reduce the pressure on the brain-body neurological connection. That is all it does. The rest of any treatment or recovery depends on the individual.

Every human being is different. Every human being’s body can, and does heal itself. The aim of the chiropractic adjustment is to aid this natural process noninvasively and without the use of synthesized chemicals, of which there are plenty of scientific studies that often indicate harmful side effects. How’s that for an “alternative?”

The human body performs unexplained functions every day. For example, how does it change any food into different, living cells, as they are needed? How does it know? It is communicating, from brain to body and from body to brain. The chiropractic adjustment improves the communication lines by alleviating pressure on the spinal cord. Might that strengthen the body, naturally, all by itself? Should a study be undertaken to prove it? We, as chiropractors, would welcome it.

The human spine has 24 individually moveable bones. Two can easily get jammed, stuck together early in life. Watch any two-year old for 30 minutes and you will see many occasions for this to occur.

Left uncorrected, the young spine compensates as best as it can. Fast forward 20-25 years later, they go to a chiropractor for the first time with a spine that has grown and essentially become maladjusted to the accumulated effects of subluxation. As the sprout is bent, so grows the tree. One or two – or even Medicare’s 12 – visits are not going to correct a person’s spine.

To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a study that provedthat slicing a person’s throat from ear to ear would kill them. Should we do that study? Some things are common sense. Keeping people’s brain-body connection clear is one of the best things a human being can do for another.

Any chiropractor that claims that their adjustments do otherwise is contributing to the “waste” portion of spending Salzburg has identified in his editorial, an article which carries the tone of one who has been led to believe chiropractic should deliver something more, and is bitterly disappointed.

Someday D.D. Palmer should receive a posthumous Nobel Prize for his discovery in 1895. His was made without the benefit of MRI, motion study fluoroscopy or even x-rays. I doubt Steven Salzburg will get any award for his misinformed attempt to discredit an honest profession in his Forbes editorial published on April 20th. More likely, his outrage will vanish into the “thin air” he believes our profession was created from.

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