With so many businesses closed right now, even in the healthcare realm, many people assume that chiropractors would be closed as well. I meet people (virtually, and in real life) every day who are surprised to hear that we are open.
How and why is it that chiropractic is considered essential, even in the current covid pandemic?
Indeed, as many have pointed out, there are some real ambiguities and inconsistencies about what we can and cannot do under quarantine and in cooperation with shelter-in-place orders. While Amazon and many big box retailers and chains thrive, many if not most small businesses have been shut down. On the one hand, we aren’t supposed to visit and hug loved ones. On the other, we can go to Costco and touch everything in the store. The list goes on and on.
In Illinois we must be distanced 6 feet, and must wear masks in any situation where that distancing cannot be guaranteed. Many retailers are making masks mandatory for customers entering their establishments. Large plastic shields are being erected between customers and cashiers for protection.
And yet chiropractic clients continue to see their chiropractors. Chiropractors touch their clients (with their hands) and are clearly not distanced during treatment and adjusting procedures. Is this some sort of strange loophole?
Not exactly. As I discussed in a recent blog, the mainstream perception of chiropractors– that we exist only to manage pain-based musculoskeletal conditions– is probably working in our favor in the current covid pandemic cultural context.
The role that chiropractors play in helping clients manage pain, improve mobility and function, and keep them out of emergency rooms by helping them maintain their health is what’s being recognized. It’s being recognized that working with a doctor trained in all things health, spine, and nervous system is irreplaceable (we can’t simply stretch and exercise more and expect the same result, for example). And that’s important.
However (you knew I was getting to this part!), that’s definitely not all. Pain is only a part of what is likely to be going on when someone’s nervous system is under stress and the communication between the brain and body is interfered with. Pain, posture, internal organ function, immune function, and even our emotions and thoughts are related to how the nervous system is functioning.
The real reasons chiropractic is essential come back to offering a different, necessary paradigm for your health and your life.
Here are my top 4 reasons chiropractic is essential.
1. We see you differently
It’s a fact that our perceptions are shaped by our lives and day to day experiences. Imagine if all you did all day was watch the TV show “Cops.” It would be hard not to come away with the idea that there’s a criminal at every routine traffic stop, right?
Similarly, being a chiropractor all day every day impacts the way we perceive people. I don’t EXPECT people to be sick. In fact, I expect them to be healthy (though perhaps facing some adaptive challenges that may be manifesting in pain, poor posture, stress, etc).
Because all day long I watch people transform into more relaxed, less stressed, more aware, more empowered, more adaptable versions of themselves before my very eyes, I am biased to see that when I look at you. I see you for all your potential, as necessary to this world, and as miraculous. Yes, roll your eyes if you must, but you try spending all day in a chiropractic office and not coming away with that perception.
Yes, we may at times in our lives need medical professionals who are focused on our risk factors, our genetics, finding a diagnosis, managing our symptoms, prescribing medications, and telling us exactly what to do, but we need a balance. The chiropractic focus on you at your best and in all your potential is essential in this world.
2. We see life differently
So far, it may sound like chiropractors live in a magical world where everyone feels good all the time, no one gets sick, and we basically pretend that illness doesn’t exist. But that’s not true either.
Birth, life, sickness, life, challenges, breakthroughs, highs, lows, mediums, death– it’s all necessary and part of life. We see you on your worst days and on your best days, and we regard all the days as potentially fruitful parts of the human experience, enabling our nervous systems and immune systems to adapt, form antibodies, learn, make different decisions, and grow.
Because we don’t pathologize pain or symptoms the same way others might (ie by immediately responding “this SHOULDN’T BE HAPPENING!” and trying to make the problem go away as fast as possible to get you to shut up about it), we are able to see you as you are, allowing you to feel it, and heal it.
3. It’s a world you want to be part of
Through a combination of the care we provide (in the case of my care, specifically directed at the nervous system and it’s functioning), and the culture that care creates, chiropractic offices can become communities that are experienced as providing an additional benefit for their members. A research study on chiropractic clients found that over months and years of receiving care, the clients rated themselves in surveys as healthier and healthier over time. AND clients were found to have gravitated toward more and more health and lifestyle practices to support themselves as time went on.
In a world where we increasingly long for connection and meaning, where we need not only more people at their best, but also more people who are willing to work cooperatively and for the common good, chiropractic is essential.
4. It’s all about the relationships
In chiropractic– it’s all about the relationships. So instead of immediately assuming you have a foot problem because you have foot pain, we would ask what might be improved in the relationship of that part, the foot, to the whole through the nervous system. Because you aren’t a collection of parts.
As Donny Epstein, creator of Network Spinal care has said, “There is no mind-body connection, because they were never separate.”
Similarly, one of the reasons people thrive in chiropractic care is due to the relationship that is created between themselves and the doctors. Because many people choose to see chiropractors over months and years of their lives, many people develop close, lifelong relationships with their chiropractors. These relationships are of the type that has become increasingly uncommon in the medical realm (for many reasons).
I would also say that medical doctors are very afraid of being wrong (again, for many reasons). I recently had a former client post on Facebook that during a routine medical visit, she asked her doctor what he would recommend in terms of supplements and prevention to help boost the immune system.
To her surprise, the doctor became very defensive and angry, even telling her that “that’s not science” and to “see a nutritionist.” While I by no means imagine this doctor to be representative of the entire medical profession, I do see it as a potential difference in the quality of the relationships that are fostered in the chiropractic world.
If you asked me about supplements and nutrition to boost the immune system, I would tell you my opinion based on what I’ve read, send you some links to some resources (or write a blog about it as I did with Vitamin D), and encourage you to make your own decision. I don’t have to worry about you suing me because I allegedly said that “Vitamin D cures covid” (which I didn’t) or something crazy like that, because I assume that you view me as an expert and a person you respect with an opinion, but not as the be all end all.
This close, ongoing relationship of mutual respect and premised on personal responsibility is one of the reasons why chiropractors, as well as so many natural health practitioners, are so essential.
Content provided by Women Belong member Katie Ray