The Truth of the Matter Pt VIII — In Search of the Magic Bullet

Ah the “Holy Grail” in Chiropractic.

It continually shows up in our dialog but takes on different forms. We can trace the roots back to D. D’s insight regarding the first adjustment of T4 to restore Harvey Lillard’s hearing. The application of x-ray plates and the supposition that a vertebral mal-position was the magic subluxation was the next step. All we needed to do then was adjust the magic spot and all would be well.

Our great desire to make the application of Chiropractic simple has lead to hundreds of techniques, all claiming to have the answer as to where to adjust a patient for the best results. We have seen personal battles and challenges that have created splits within the profession based on this “magic bullet” concept of Chiropractic care.

The over simplification of Chiropractic stems from the lack of the ability to explain the great benefits the practitioner sees in his/her practice. Any DC, having been in practice for more than 10 years, has most likely seen good patient responses to a variety of techniques.  By far the most used approach in practice, when it comes to describing a technique, is called “diversified”. Which just means the practitioners use a variety of techniques in their practice? This puts a “twist” in the “magic bullet” quest when addressing the concept of a “one technique is the answer” approach.

My 32 years of practice taught me that I needed to evaluate the needs of each patient and closely monitor their responses to care. There were patients whose nervous systems where so damaged that only very light forms of care were indicated, while others needed to have a “kick start”.  Well, not actually kicked, but a firm manual adjustment was the only care that altered their current poor neurological pattern.

The search for the simplest answer continues to persist in the profession and we now have an additional “Simple Simon” format.  The magic wellness index number, – “if you’re a 3, your bad, and if you’re now a 20 you’ve improved” approach.  My question is based on “What”? This is like evidence based care – based on what evidence? – Symptom relief? – Reduction of drug use? Who compiled these numbers? What was the baseline data? Was it from acceptable research or did someone just make it up? The concept may be good but we need to be very careful about our supporting claims.

Chiropractic has been doing this for years and it is one of the challenges that continue to get us in trouble. Where is the proof that a straight spine makes you healthy? Or that a normal cervical curve improves your health?  Now that I have your attention listen up – How do we explain the patients who improve (at least symptom relief) while their curves don’t change? How do we explain how the light touch techniques get great results? Where is the magic bullet here?

As we continue to demonstrate the power of the adjustment to improve the neurological response through pre and post NeuroInfiniti stress response evaluations we have begun to see that all the techniques have merit. Not only is there no “Magic Bullet” for technique but how can you measure health through a number? It reminds me of the scene in “Dead Poet’s Society” where measuring poetry was reduced to a graph and number rating.

Look at this definition of Health

“The states of health or disease are the expressions of the success or failure experienced by the organism in its efforts to respond adaptively to environmental challenges.”

Success or failure starts at the central nervous system and ends with the body’s systems being able to respond and adapt to its environment. This is a very complex, interrelated, closed loop system that continues to respond to health challenges on an individual basis. The Stress Response Evaluation (SRE) shows how individuals continue to change and adapt. We continually get asked, “Does this SRE tell you where to adjust?” Ah, in search of the “Holy Grail” once again!

The reason we call our career “practice” is because what we get to do every day, with every individual, is to think, apply our training and experience, so that we meet the needs of that individual in front of us.

For me the “Magic Bullet” is the adjustment and the “Holy Grail” is what the nervous system does with that stimulus.

This post was written by Richard Barwell, D.C.

Dr. Barwell is the Founder and President of the Chiropractic Equity Offices, Inc. program, and has more than thirty years of experience in chiropractic practice. After graduating from Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College with clinic honors in 1964, he started a family Wellness Practice in British Columbia. He has since established numerous successful practices, won several awards and guest lectured at various chiropractic institutions. Before establishing CEO, Inc. Dr. Barwell was the Director of Seminars and Programs at Quest and Executive Director of the Chiropractic Leadership Alliance.

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