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Dynamic Chiropractic
March 1, 1991, Volume 09, Issue 05

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Review of "My Aching Back" -- L.A. Times Magazine Article


The November 11th, 1990 Los Angeles Times magazine article, "My Aching Back," is proof positive that the rest of the world is catching up with chiropractic.

Surprisingly, the authors are two MDs, Michael S. Wilkes and Miriam Shuchman. The article examines the alternatives to surgery for treating "uncomplicated" back ailments (often caused by muscle inflammation), which chiropractic deals with frequently. Since the L.A. Times has a daily circulation of 1,225,189, this is obviously excellent exposure for chiropractic.

The authors begin the article by affirming that back problems are all too common: Over 75 percent of Americans will injure their backs at least once, and they spend around $16 billion annually seeking relief. Many people do not take time to visit health care professionals, and instead risk further injury by treating themselves with over-the-counter remedies, and ignoring the pain.

Drs. Wilkes and Shuchman emphatically inform readers that there are alternatives to the time-worn, and often ill-advised options available to chronic back pain sufferers: "Muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, and painkillers are old standbys, and recently, doctors have started offering other options." The alternatives the doctors mention include chiropractic treatment and a method chiropractors sometimes use called transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS).

Drs. Wilkes and Shuchman take an open-minded approach to chiropractic and its methods, which reflects the changing attitudes of many health care professionals, and the public at large. The power and simplicity of chiropractic are becoming more and more difficult to ignore. Although some of chiropractic's methods have not been "proven," the authors of the article cannot deny that they work. Of TENS the MDs write: "Although many doctors and patients say TENS provides relief, a recent study found that it offered no more benefit than did a placebo. Of course, that doesn't mean it won't work for some people." Certainly, this is not a glowing assessment, but they do not discount TENS, nor do they deny that it has been effective for back pain sufferers.

More importanly, Drs. Wilkes and Shuchman have quite a bit of praise for the chiropractic profession itself. Despite the apparent blunder of calling chiropractors "non-physicans," they have important things to say about chiropractic:

"In the past, doctors have been quick to share stories about the ineffectiveness of chiropractors. But several recent studies have found that when chiropractic was compared to conventional medical treatment for uncomplicated back pain, the chiropractic treatment produced better results -- people had a greater relief of pain, a more rapid return to work, and a smaller chance of recurrence over the following two years."

In this quote, these MDs state very clearly and succinctly what chiropractic has been trying to tell the public for years: Chiropractic deserves acknowledgement as a viable, effective health care profession. Chiropractic accomplishes its goals -- faster healing, longer-lasting healing, less time away from work -- and accomplishes them naturally.

Drs. Wilkes and Shuchman even cite a case study that supports chiropractic treatment over surgery. They document the case of 38-year-old Nancy, who underwent surgery to end her chronic back pain, only to have the pain return just months after her operation. The scar tissue that had developed would make it difficult at best to attempt surgery on the area again, a common occurrence in back surgery. The figures speak for themselves: As many as 30 percent of back surgery patients find no relief from their pain. The authors quote Dr. Robert Debois, a physician and a private health consultant: "For many people, back surgery is no panacea."

Nancy was later sent to a chiropractor. After undergoing treatment and doing the recommended excercises, she improved, and was even able to play tennis again.

Preventative, holistic health care is gaining prominence in the "back-to-basics" 1990s, and this is just the reason why chiropractic is receiving such positive attention. This L.A. Times magazine article is unsolicited public relations indicative of a new and refreshing attitude. People (including MDs) are beginning to realize that pills and operations should be the last resort, not the first choice.

Barbara Migliaccio

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Dynamic Chiropractic
March 1, 1991, Volume 09, Issue 05

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