Great thread. Sorry I didn’t stumble on to it earlier. I am an attorney working both sides of workers’ compensation law. The issue of Chiropractors has long been a bone of contention in my industry. I have spent much time reviewing and evaluating chiropractic records and developing my thoughts on efficacy of Chiro therapy. I will try to answer each of SCSA’s questions:
1)Chiros in general. Do you believe in them? What do you think about his philosophy that I've laid out? What do you think about his theory that the spine is very important to health and that if it's out of alignment, it can lead to other problems?
Yes, but not for the usual reasons. I do not believe that chiros heal the spine or provide treatment, which permanently alters the spine in a therapeutic manner. Instead, it is my opinion that chiro therapy operates on the same strong emotional/physical part of the brain that causes the placebo response. Don’t pooh, pooh the placebo response. In clinical drug trials it is not unheard of to see the patients on placebo alone have positive outcomes of 25% to 50% better than patients in the control group, and nearly the results of the group taking the actual medication. The drug must usually be significantly better than the placebo to be approved by the FDA. An example: a TENS unit (topical electrical stimulation) was touting its efficacy indicating that it provided a 60% better result than the control group. The placebo however had a 50% improvement over the control group. But Dr.’ can’t Rx placebo since they must disclose and receive consent from the before entering a therapy regime.
I came to this belief after reviewing a number of studies, which show that chiro has a positive results for the first few weeks or months of therapy, chiro has no long term benefit over other therapies, and, chiro does not seem to have any significant preventative qualities, which would be expected if the therapy actually resulted in spinal realignment.
So, while I believe the chiro works, the therapy will only work for certain people. Unlike a drug, chiro only works on people who are predisposed to the belief that a hands on medical approach will have a benefit. It does not work for those, like me, who don’t want the medical provider to touch them.
Lastly, I do not believe most back pain is muscular in origin, but is stress driven. Yes, I realize that skiing is hard work and uses many muscles in the low back. But, a skier, near the end of the season, who is in shape and who skis a normal day should not have spasm unless something unusual happened, like a fall, or an extraordinarily tough day skiing, which could account for the spasm. If stress is a major contributor to the problem, no amount of stretching, chiro, surgery, etc. will cure the problem, although they may temporarily help. The only fix is removal or redirection of the stress. You will have to find that solution on your own – yoga???
2)How many of you budget "body" expense every month? Where do you spend your money? Chiros? PT's? Massages?
I do not budget such expenses. I ski hard and I am not young. I think stretching, strong abs, and stress venting are the key to reducing or eliminating back pain.
3)Or, given my situation, where would you spend your money each month? Getting adjusted? Getting massages? PT work?
NOTE: if you have anything significant going on in your back go to your Dr. first. I once had a case where the patient (my client was the insurance company not the patient) had significant back pain, and self cured for months. At his first Dr. visit, the Dr. found a crushed vertebra. He ended up with unnecessary permanent injuries. NOT SMART!!!
I would take a stepwise approach. First, try exercise, and use a good trainer to help set up a good routine. If that doesn’t work enlist your Dr. and a good PT. to help with exercises and training. If that doesn’t work try chiro, acupuncture/pressure, etc. If something works and you can afford it great. If not, I empathize.
4)Then, since we're coming up to the off-season, what kind of bodywork are you doing? In particular, who here is using the ball regularly? Is it working for you?
There is no off-season for me. I snow ski till the end of May then immediately start water-skiing and wakeboarding. I use the Stairmaster for 1 hour each day and try to do abs work as well. I also stretch for 20 minutes.
I know someone who has tried almost everything, and for a short time after trying each new “therapy” claims victory, followed by defeat. She needs to find a way to redirect her stress out of her body instead of focusing it inwards.
Final thoughts: MD’s and Chiro’s use the same essential technique to heal non-surgical back problems – time and the patient’s internal ability to heal himself or herself. The body heals itself. The meds prescribed by the MD, the manipulation of a masseuse, the realignment of a chiropractor, or any other treatment can assist in the initial reduction or resolution of the spasm, but this is not healing, it is symptom relief only. Yes, these therapies may make the patient more comfortable, but they do not heal (exception – steroids, in very specific cases, and NSAIDS, i.e., aspirin, which you do not need a license to Rx).