Chiropractor and the Orthopedic Surgeon

In healthcare circles there are professions that do not always see eye to eye. Chiropractic has earned the trust of the public, the healthcare agencies, the insurance industries and government programs, as a well-educated and proper healthcare disciplines.The Chiropractic focus has always been on the spine and nerves and when the general public seeks professional help they are encountering two very different philosophies of health care in this areas of service: the orthopedic surgeon and the chiropractor.

chiro-medIt is most unfortunate that the orthopedic surgeons as a group, are more than anyone else, guilty of attempting to discredit and marginalize the chiropractic profession. Referrals from orthopedic surgeons to chiropractors is nearly non-existent, yet the reverse is not true as Chiropractors remain open to the fact that sometimes their patients need the services of a surgeon. When a patient seeks relief from hip pain and the joint cartilage has degenerated beyond nature’s ability to restore normal function, a hip-joint replacement is the most effective solution. Torn knee and shoulder ligaments may only partially respond to conservative care – sometimes surgery is the best long-term answer. These are instances when the chiropractor will refer to an orthopedic surgeon; yes, even an occasional lumbar disc pathology as many as 10% may still need disc surgery.

However, there is ongoing contention regarding spinal surgery. Given equal opportunity for people with moderate to advanced spine and nerve disorders to be seen and treated by either the chiropractor or the orthopedic surgeon, the chances of surgery being recommended may be a high as 10Xs more frequent with the orthopedic surgeon than the
chiropractor. This is not a small discrepancy and one that is worth noting, but also the main reason for the discontent among orthopedic surgeons with chiropractors. Basically, we fix people so the need for surgeons is greatly reduced; a fact not likely to be appreciated by the surgeons, but definitely most appreciated by the patients. As for professional courtesy, in the Philippines I must admit, that after 27 years in America and 8 years in the Philippines, doctors here, even orthopedic surgeons, are much more considerate and respectful of my profession than their American counterparts. That’s how it is.

In a perfect world patients should receive the best recommendation from their healthcare professionals. Sad to say if a person who is undergoing an orthopedic surgeon’s evaluation is not likely to be referred to the chiropractor because that specialist is more effective in conservative spine care. In truth, people on their own raise issues that they are always being offered surgery for conditions that in any reasonable person’s mind should have less invasive solutions offered to them.

Lucky are the few who find themselves in the chiropractor’s doorway and can be offered care that does not include drugs or surgery.

Yours in Health,

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