The New Face of Chiropractic Medicine
Sep 30, 2014 10:33AM
● By Linda Sechrist
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, a nationally recognized functional medicine physician and New York Times bestselling author, it was noted in the World Economic Forum 2015 global economic update that the single biggest threat to worldwide economic development is chronic disease. “Lessons [allopathic] doctors learn in medical school training have very little to do with how to prevent and treat chronic illness. We are in crisis point for the first time in medicine and are recognizing that the old paradigm doesn’t work anymore,” remarks Hyman.
Fortunately, chiropractic medicine has evolved outside the conventional medicine model. In 1896, when Daniel David Palmer founded the Palmer School of Chiropractic, prevention, wellness and a profound respect for the human body’s ability to heal itself without the use of surgery or medication became the foundation of study for chiropractic physicians. These pioneers in the field of non-invasive care promote science-based approaches to a variety of ailments following a philosophy of natural and conservative methods of treatment that include spinal manipulation, herbal and vitamin supplements, proper nutrition and exercise. Chiropractors devote careful attention to the biomechanics, structure and function of the spine and how that affects the musculoskeletal and neurological systems. They believe that when these systems are functioning optimally, health is restored and preserved.
In a survey regarding the quality of nutritional counseling among chiropractors practicing in the state of New York, published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine in 2007, 80 percent of the responding chiropractors reported using some form of nutritional counseling and dietary changes proven to reduce inflammation with patients suffering from inflammatory conditions and autoimmune disorders.
Chiropractic physician Gary Gendron, owner of Nutrition Specialists of Florida, in Bonita Springs, chose the chiropractic profession because of its approach to treating the root cause of health challenges by eliminating interference in the nervous system. “A spinal adjustment relieves the pressure on the nerve, allowing the impulses to travel through without impingement. Think of a vertebra pinching a nerve as you would a light controlled by a dimmer switch turned to low. To get more light, adjust the switch so that the bulb receives more electricity,” explains Gendron, who is also a certified clinical nutritionist and diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition.
Chiropractors now mirror a national trend toward returning to the classroom for diplomate certification and master’s degrees, according to Robert E. Dubro, DC, president of the American Board of Chiropractic Specialties and past president of the Occupational Health Council. “After graduating from chiropractic college, you have the basic skill set to treat patients presenting with average, everyday complaints and injuries,” he explains. “In general, you do not yet have the expertise to treat highly chronic illnesses and injuries or specific, complex occupational, sports or traumatic injuries. Specialty training is an important path to that kind of expertise.”
The path to postdoctoral chiropractic specialization as a diplomate requires some 300 to 400 hours of advanced study in a specific concentration, concluding with rigorous written, oral or practical board examinations. Diplomate training is usually offered through chiropractic colleges or associations. Between all of the nine councils of the American Chiropractic Association, 10 different diplomate specializations are offered: pediatrics, physiological therapeutics and rehabilitation, acupuncture, diagnosis and internal disorders, diagnostic imaging (radiology), neurology, nutrition, occupational health, sports physician and orthopedics.
Dr. Robert Gilliland’s quest for postgraduate specialty training led him to enroll in classes and workshops in nutrition, neurology and functional endocrinology offered through the Carrick Institute for graduate studies. The owner of Southwest Florida Natural Health Center, in Bonita Springs, chose this latest evolution in integrative medicine to help improve his patients’ health. “Functional medicine requires consideration of the human body as a finely orchestrated network of interconnected systems, rather than viewing it as autonomous individual systems,” says Gilliland, who is board certified in integrative medicine with a focus on thyroid management.
“Traditional spinal manipulation is no longer ‘the’ answer,” Gilliland says of why chiropractors are enrolling in advanced studies. “Factors such as the overload of toxins in food and drinking water and those that contribute to poor indoor and outdoor air quality, along with the poor standard American diet, significantly interfere with the ability of our cells to accept nutrition and produce energy,” he explains. “The whole point of chiropractic is to enable the brain to communicate with the cells, which in the case of many patients, can’t be optimized because the toxic environment inside the body has to be dealt with first.”
Chiropractors are more likely to suggest integrating into their treatment plans other natural therapies such as acupuncture; massage therapy or bodywork; energy work; Network Spinal Analysis, an approach developed by Dr. Donald Epstein; and pulsed electromagnetic therapy (PEMF), a technique in which pulsed magnetic fields are directed through injured tissue in order to stimulate cellular repair, especially in bones. “A library of several articles archived in Pubmed.com note that PEMF has helped with fibromyalgia, postoperative pain and edema, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, bulging discs and wound healing,” notes Gilliland, who has recently incorporated the therapy into his services. “PEMF gives the cells the energy they need to work properly,” he advises.Network Spinal Analysis, practiced by Michele Pelletiere, DC, owner of Pelletier Family Chiropractic, in Bonita Springs, uses gentle and precise touches to the spine to cue the brain to connect with the body’s natural rhythms and create new strategies for adapting to stress, dissipating tension from the spine and nerves. “This treatment frequently changes the way a patient responds to their pain,” comments Pelletiere.
Today’s chiropractor chooses to help patients restore health and achieve optimal wellness, rather than focusing solely on disease or pain management. Patient care protocols may include evaluation of their health problems in light of their lifestyle choices and interactions with their environment, as well as any genetic predisposition. Another common practice among chiropractors is referring patients out to a medical doctor, physical therapist, acupuncturist, massage therapist or nutritionist when necessary.Vivian Ebert, DC, owner of LivingWell Chiropractic, in Bonita Springs, focuses on structural protocols that relieve pain. “Every patient is different. Some garden, while others run or bicycle, play tennis, golf, practice yoga, or work in front of a computer eight hours a day.” says Ebert. “Repetitive movements and the patient’s lifestyle greatly influence the treatment protocol. This is just one reason that I need to spend time with them to understand the root cause of their pain, how to treat them and to whom to refer them if they need additional treatment.”
Promoted by public demand, there is a wellness and prevention wave building in U.S. health care. Chiropractic treatment, which is not dependent on expensive technology or pharmaceutical drugs, is part of this movement toward integrative and lifestyle medicine.
Nutrition Specialists of Florida, 28315 S. Tamiami Trail, Ste. 101, Bonita Springs. Call 239-947-1177 or visit DoctorGendron.com.
Southwest Florida Natural Health Center, LLC, 27449 Riverview Center Blvd., Ste. 255, Bonita Springs. Call 239-444-3106 or visit SwfThyroid.com.
Pelletiere Family Chiropractic, 9138 Bonita Beach Rd. (Sunshine Plaza), Bonita Springs. Call 239-949-1222 or visit HealTouch.com/pelletiere.
LivingWell Chiropractic, 10020 Coconut Rd., Ste. 134, Bonita Springs. Call 239-498-2225 or visit LivingWellFl.com.