Of the 642,000 healthcare workers in Australia, 33% are Allied Healthcare Professionals. The Allied Health Professions Australia recognises 27 fields under this category, including counsellors and psychotherapists, dietitians, optometrists, and chiropractors. While the public perception of chiropractic is mostly positive, healthcare has a hierarchy where traditional medicine dominates. This means alternative or complementary disciplines are often singled out for scrutiny and disfavoured as pseudoscience. To call chiropractic pseudoscience would be to affirm that its theories and methods are fallacious and scientifically incompatible. However, every healthcare speciality, procedure, or practice has its benefits and limitations, from chiropractic to cardiology.
Through a balanced presentation of benefits and limitations, this article will help you determine: Is chiropractic pseudoscience?
Benefits of Chiropractic Treatment
Chiropractic Methods are Low-Risk
While the chiropractic back crack or neck crack might inspire aversion or fear in your mind, it is essential to remember that professionals in Australia are highly educated and licensed chiropractors who abide by ethical codes, just like traditional doctors. In 2005, over 3,200,000 Australians (16%) made at least one chiropractic visit. The numbers show good faith in the safety and positive conception of chiropractic treatment, the country's 9th biggest registered health profession.
Moreover, chiropractic science believes in a non-invasive and drug-free approach. Grand View Research cited non-invasiveness and the unlikelihood of prescription drug abuse as factors for the market growth of chiropractic treatment.
Chiropractic Can Reduce Aches and Pains
An ABS survey reported that 71.1% of respondents experienced body pain over a month, with 62.6% reporting disruption to their work. Another survey noted that 72.8% of respondents met the guidelines for physical activity and that roughly under 50% of employees were in sitting-heavy jobs. Chiropractic treatment can assist you regardless of which umbrella you are under:
- Someone whose bodily pains prevent you from doing your jobs.
- Someone whose job causes physical distress.
Manipulating the musculoskeletal system with a focus on the spine allows chiropractors to address the pain caused by upper and lower back pain, neck pain, sciatica, and frozen shoulder—conditions that can interfere with work or arise due to physically intensive or sedentary jobs.
Chiropractic is Suitable for All Ages
A 2021 study reported that 16% of 6,781 chiropractic consultations involved patients above 65 years of age seeking relief from back and neck problems. You should remember that while 'cracking' is the most widely recognised chiropractic method, it is not the only one. Chiropractors apply age-appropriate techniques like soft tissue therapy when handling senior adults and children.
Older adults may see a chiropractor when they experience pain due to ageing changes in the musculoskeletal system, the aggravation of old injuries, poor posture, and lack of exercise. Paediatric chiropractors commonly address pain from carrying heavy backpacks or poor posture due to excessive screen time.
Limitations of Chiropractic
Chiropractic is Not a Cure-All
You can see a chiropractor to fix the crick in your neck, but if your aches and pains stem from a condition like spinal cord injury, cancer, or heart disease, you should knock on the door of a medical doctor. This is because chiropractic can treat your pain but cannot cure your disease.
While chiropractors believe in a holistic approach, they concentrate on your spine. However, your spine is only one part of your body. Stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise can cause your pain, but these are not necessarily the chiropractor’s zone of expertise.
Second, chiropractic is not a magic bullet. It can help to relieve pain and improve function, but it does not always cure the underlying problem. For example, chiropractic can help to alleviate back pain caused by a muscle strain, but it cannot fix the muscle strain itself.
Chiropractic May Not be Effective for Everyone
While chiropractic is generally safe, it is not the road for everyone to take. You may be unsuitable for chiropractic treatment if:
- You have a serious medical condition. If you have a concerning medical condition, it will help to talk to your doctor before commencing chiropractic therapy.
- You are pregnant. There is evidence that chiropractic may be safe for pregnant women, but more research is needed.
- You have recently had spinal surgery. Please wait at least six weeks after spinal surgery and get the green light from your surgeon and healthcare team before starting chiropractic treatment.
- You have osteoporosis. Chiropractic may be safe if you have osteoporosis, but you would rather talk to your doctor before starting treatment.
Chiropractic is Not a Substitute for Medical Care
While chiropractic can coexist with traditional medical care, it has yet to reach a juncture where it can replace the latter. Here is why.
- Diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors diagnose and treat musculoskeletal disorders but are not qualified to diagnose or treat serious medical conditions.
- Training. Medical doctors have years of training in anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. Chiropractors have a different level of training.
- Tests and medication. Unlike medical doctors, chiropractors cannot order tests and prescribe medication.
So, is Chiropractic Pseudoscience?
'Is chiropractic pseudoscience?' well, that’s tricky to answer. You have evidence that chiropractic can effectively relieve pain and improve function. However, the proof of the effectiveness of chiropractic is mixed, and there needs to be a clear consensus on its long-term effectiveness. For these reasons, some believe that chiropractic is pseudoscience. However, others believe it is a legitimate and helpful form of healthcare. Ultimately, whether or not you want to bark up the tree of chiropractic treatment is a personal decision.