Everything Pedde

   S J Pedde Canada   S.J. Pedde

Do Chiropractors "Quack"?

Dear Zachary:

Don’t you just hate it when some people are so closed minded that they block out everything except for their own narrow views?  You know the type:  “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is already made up.”

I’m thinking specifically of your paediatrician when we last visited him, although I have encountered similar behaviour from others many times before.  We had gone for your annual check-up.  I mentioned that a previous problem, grinding your teeth in your sleep, no longer existed.  Why not?  When conventional medicine hadn’t helped, we had my chiropractor treat you.  The grinding disappeared, literally after one treatment.

Your doctor scoffed and ridiculed.  His comment, “Well, you can believe that if you want to,” was as typically condescending as I have grown to expect from entrenched practitioners of conventional medicine.

Hmmm.  Let’s analyze the situation:  For months you ground your teeth every night. It was so loud that your mother and I could hear it from the doorway of your bedroom. Then, all of a sudden, after a single visit to a chiropractor, the problem disappeared. Strange isn’t it?  Then after a few weeks you started grinding your teeth again and we took you in for another chiropractic treatment.   You haven’t ground your teeth since.  I think just about any rational person would agree that the remedy just might have been the chiropractic treatment.  End of story.

When I was fourteen years old, some friends and I went camping.  We thought it would be fun to jump off some cliffs at the edge of Lake Erie onto sand hills below. The jump down measured five to six metres, depending on how far we could catapult ourselves forward at the cliff’s edge.  My first several jumps were thrilling.  I flew through the air and landed far below, knee-deep in the sand.  My last jump was not as
much fun.  I didn’t manage to launch myself out as far as I needed to clear a ledge which jutted out from the cliff, about three metres below the crest.  My buttocks landed on the ledge with a terrible crunch as I felt my vertebrae compress.  I tumbled the rest of the way down the cliff to the sand below and collapsed.

I couldn’t move for a while.  The pain was incredible.  I should have been taken to the hospital, but resisted because I knew what a hardship any hospital and medical bills would pose to my parents.  This was before our national health system was introduced.  After a long time, I let my friends help me to my tent and eventually drive me home.  After several weeks the pain subsided, but my back was never the same again.  I never did tell my parents what happened.

Fast-forward nineteen years.  In 1978 I was thirty-three years old.  I hadn’t been able to sit comfortably for more than an hour or so for years.  My back ached constantly.  Finally, in desperation, I got a referral from my family physician to a leading orthopaedic surgeon near where we live.  He probed and prodded, had x-rays taken, then gave me his pronouncement.  I had to change my line of work.  Because I sat behind a desk all day, I needed to find something to do where I could be on my feet instead.  That way, I wouldn’t be uncomfortable when I sat.  Oh... and one more thing... I really should consider getting an operation to get a steel rod inserted along my spine.  That would keep the vertebrae properly aligned and presumably help me be more comfortable.

I have to admit that, stoic and pragmatic as I am, that little bit of information had me considerably frazzled.  I reflected on my options for a bit.  I don’t know which of the two possible eventualities bothered me more -- leaving my desk or living with a stainless steel rod in my back.  I didn’t like either scenario. 

It didn’t take me long to decide.  No way was I going to change my job.  I love my work.  To do it, I need to sit at a desk.  And no, I wasn’t going to get myself cut open so I could live the rest of my life with a steel rod in my body.  Uh uh.  So, what to do?

I remembered that my father had injured his back at work when I was a young boy.  A chiropractor had come to our home to treat him, and my father went back to work.  If chiropractic attention worked for my father, perhaps it would work for me.

Off I went, to a chiropractor whose name I culled from the telephone book.  I was really, really lucky.  I found, on my first visit, a man who would change my life.  I explained to him what my problem was and what the orthopaedic surgeon had told me.  Then I waited to hear the inevitable bad news.  The chiropractor poked and prodded.  He took his own set of x-rays.  Then, he told me I needn’t worry, after several visits I would feel better.

That is exactly how things worked out.  After the first treatment, I could have skipped down the street, I felt so good.  After three treatments, I felt like I had never had a problem.  Yes, there was vertebral damage, bad enough so that even I could recognize it on the x-rays the chiropractor showed me.  But because the nerves and blood vessels were no longer pinched off, my back would begin to heal itself.

As I write this, I am fifty-seven years old.  I don’t have a steel rod in my back.  I still work from behind a desk.  We went to see a musical the other night and I sat in a theatre seat for three hours without discomfort.

Another time, I had a sharp pain in my chest for several weeks.  I went to my family doctor and he sent me to get x-rays.  Nothing.  I mentioned the problem to the same chiropractor I had gone to for my back.  He rubbed some special point on my chest and the pain disappeared before I left his office.  Gone.  Bye bye.  Once, I had a pain in my groin for several months and when I couldn’t stand it anymore had myself referred to a urologist.  He couldn’t find anything wrong and said to me:  “You’re getting older.  You have to expect some aches and pains as you age.”  Off I went again to the chiropractor.  One treatment and the problem was gone.  What was it? A nerve had been pinched off during some activity I had engaged in a little too enthusiastically.  Once the pressure was relieved, I could literally feel the pain subside over fifteen or so minutes after the treatment.  I could go on with more examples, but I’m sure by now you get the point.

You, Zachary, are still just a kid.  As you grow and mature, I want you always to have an open mind.  Think.  Don’t accept anything at face value.  Research, probe, analyze.  When you then draw your own conclusions, at least it will be because you had all the facts, not because someone said it was so or because someone else said it
wasn’t so.

That will make you special.  The world doesn’t need any more people with closed minds.