Chiropractors as family doctors Once denounced by the mainstream, the profession gains ground!
My (David Edelberg, MD) modest proposal is to find a good chiropractic physician and use them as your PCP. There are several compelling reasons to consider this:
Chiropractic physicians, with the exception of pharmacology and surgery, have the same training in sciences as medical doctors. They can recognize signs and symptoms of organic illness, know the limitations of their expertise, and are taught when to refer to medical doctors.
Your chiropractic physician (and her staff) will get to know you as a person. You’ll have a set of your records on file in one place, including details on your health history.
Chiropractic physicians know how to perform a physical exam. In addition, they can do very sophisticated musculoskeletal/neurological testing that I was simply never taught. In addition, most chiropractic offices now draw blood, order x rays and scans, and refer to surgical specialists.
Most chiropractic physicians also have a relationship with an MD (usually their own). Alternatively, they can fax their evaluation to your PCP for uploading into your electronic medical records. Some electronic systems even allow you upload your chiro office visit to your online medical records by yourself.
Any time you see a doctor—an MD (medical doctor), DO (doctor of osteopathy), or DC (doctor of chiropractic)–keep in mind that most symptoms aren’t caused by disease, but rather by unhealthful lifestyles. Most headaches are caused by stress and most digestive problems by poor food choices. Sadly, because they’re so pressed for time, medical doctors treat symptoms with prescription drugs rather than teaching lifestyle changes like healthful eating, stress reduction, and exercise. Instead of endlessly relying on prescription drugs (the side effects of which are the fourth leading cause of death), chiropractors are geared toward nutritional therapies, diet changes, body therapies, and other health-oriented techniques.
Between the ages of 18 and 60, most of your medical problems will likely have their origin in your musculoskeletal system. It’s the first system to peter out as you age, and here chiropractors are in their element, balancing your body, teaching you exercises, and offering a wide variety of treatments that are not drug-based.
PCPs refer patients far too quickly and too often to medical specialists. Although specialists are necessary, their perspective is a narrow one confined to their area of expertise. The result is that many patients receive too many complex and potentially dangerous diagnostic tests and unnecessary surgeries for symptoms that might have been treatable with simple lifestyle changes.
Chiropractic physicians consistently receive “highly satisfied” ratings from patients. This is because they generally spend more time with them than other physicians, really getting to know their patients well. Virtually every chiropractic physician I’ve ever known will squeeze you in if you need to be seen quickly, and virtually all have a relationship with an MD they can call on if actual medical intervention is needed.
Finally—and importantly–unlike the self-reported misery among PCPs, surveys among chiropractic physicians reveal just the opposite: feelings of personal satisfaction, acceptable levels of stress, and a strong sense of being beneficial to society.
I’ve been working closely with two chiropractic physicians, Paul Rubin and Cliff Maurer, for years. In fact, when Dr. Rubin and I founded WholeHealth Chicago, we learned that ours was the first partnership in Illinois between an MD and DC. Many of our patients actually use Paul and Cliff as their primary care physicians, calling on me (or on Drs. Kelley or Donigan) when the situation appears to need medical intervention.
All in all, I’m glad our president is kvelling, but saddened that the word misery is now linked with being a doctor. This just means, as always, take care of yourself and…
David Edelberg, MD
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Matteo Chiropractic & Physical Therapy, College Point, Queens, NY
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By Dr. Michael Noonan, Special to the BDN