Episode 001 — Chiropractic 101
SHOW NOTESRadio Microphone

Title: Chiropractic 101

Episode Number: 001

Host: Dr. Thomas Lamar

Show Date: 01/08/2010

Run Time: 14:56

Description:  What does a chiropractor do?  If you can’t solidly answer this question, school’s in session and Dr. Lamar is at the blackboard.  Enjoy this debut episdoe that starts listeners on the “chiropractic ground floor” by exposing a common misconception held by many —even some chiropractors!

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The Chiropractic 101 newspaper article.

The USA AHCPR Guidelines for Acute Low Back Pain

The Canadian Low Back Pain Manga Report

Does your podcast listening schedule need a little backbone? If so, then maybe it’s time to schedule an appointment with your podcast chiropractor, Dr. Thomas Lamar.

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Spinal Column Radio, episode number one.

Coming up on Spinal Column Radio — Chiropractic 101


[intro theme music]

And welcome to the much anticipated episode number One of Spinal Column Radio.  My name is Dr. Thomas Lamar.  And this is the podcast that gets you to think — to think about your health in a whole new way.  We’re the podcast for your backbone… the podcast with backbone.  We’re about informing and educating…  Inspiring, and Entertaining…. All through the lens of a chiropractor.

I’d like to invite you to visit our podcast website at http://www.spinalcolumnradio.com where you can learn more about us, podcasting in general, and can access the show notes for this episode.  And of course You can also leave comments and ask questions.  Additionally, you can shoot me an email at DrLamarATspinalcolumnradio.com (that’s D-R-L-A-M-A-R ATspinalcolumnradio.com) and I’ll do my best to include it (if appropriate) in a future show.


[transitional sound effect]

Okay, technically this is the debut episode of Spinal Column Radio — being episode number on and all.  Last week we released episode zero which wasn’t really a typical episode, but more of an introduction to our podcast that  detailed out the who, what, and why of Spinal Column Radio.  I encourage you the check it out if you missed it.  And of course you can find that on our website as well.


[school bell sound effect]

All right, school’s in session.  And this is Chiropractic 101.

What is it, exactly, that Chiropractors do?

This was the question that we posed to complete strangers on the street during my first week in chiropractic college back in the early 90’s.

You know, once I got over my initial fear of approaching people I didn’t even know with this question, the exercise was actually pretty interesting… and enlightening.

What our class of 150 found was that a good number of people we approached really didn’t know or, to be fair, didn’t know enough to feel comfortable sharing an answer.  But, of the ones who did share an answer, most basically said that chiropractors are “back doctors.”

Seems logical.  Chiropractors work with the spine, and that’s the back.  And back pain — Back pain is all around us.  And most people know someone with back pain that has been helped — or they’ve been helped themselves — by a chiropractor.

You know,  statisticians tell us that 80% of the population will at some point in their life experience a bout of back pain.  As a matter of fact, back pain is so prevalent in our society, it ranks number two for the reason people visit their medical doctors — with number one being the common cold.

Most people understand, or have heard, that chiropractors do pretty a pretty good job at helping people with back pain.

Enforcing this notion, they may have heard news reports in the past surrounding two very notable research projects that praised the type of treatments rendered by chiropractors at being very effective at treating lower back pain.

Now mind you, I’m basing our show today on an article that I authored the same name — Chiropractic 101 — back in 1997.  Look for the newspaper icon in the show notes for a direct link to it.  These studies that I’m about to discuss, may seem a bit dated… and other studies have come along that enforce their findings, but these studies were very pivotal and have been foundational for the advancement of — in terms of acceptance — for our profession…. so they’re definitely worth talking about.

Let’s take a look.


[transitional sound effect]

The first one was conducted by our very own U.S. Government back in 1994.  You see, the US Government, in an effort to curb health care spending (yes I know some things never change), took a hard look at some of the major health conditions that were financially bogging down our society.  Guess what condition was right up there at the top? You guessed it, Back Pain .  So, the United States government decided to turn to the research in an effort to figure out which form of treatments for back pain made the most sense.  In other words, what worked and was it cost effective?

To do this they created an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services called the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (or more easily known as the AHCPR).  Actually, as a side note, this agency doesn’t even exist now.  Ironically, shortly after their findings, the cord was quickly pulled on it due to some behind the scenes political pressures — a story we will definitely talk about in a future episode…  Nonetheless, the likeness of the AHCPR eventually did resurface with a brand new name .

To get back, the AHCPR, as it was known, was  commissioned to come up with a set of researched-based, clinical guidelines to determine to most effective forms of treatment for acute lower back pain in terms of functional outcome and cost.

The process that they undertook was pretty impressive and took a whopping five years to complete.  So they actually started all of this — if I’m doing my math right– in 1989.

Essentially they had a 23-member panel (whittled down from a list of more than 200 nominees) representing the fields of biomechanical and spine research, chiropractic care, emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, neurology, neurosurgery, occupational health, nursing, occupational medicine, occupational therapy, orthopedics, osteopathic medicine, physical and rehabilitative medicine, physical therapy, psychology, rheumatology, and radiology.  In all, this well-rounded panel, sifted through more then 10,000 research articles on various back pain treatments published since 1984 — tossing out the “junk science” articles that did not pass their stringent criteria. They even looked back to a previous exhaustive literature search that was compiled by the Quebec Task Force on Spinal Disorders for publications that were published prior to 1984.  And if all this wasn’t enough, the comprehensiveness of the panel’s review and their prevailing conclusions were overseen by a group of over 100 peer reviewers who had expertise in the care of low back problems.

In formulating their conclusions, the panel not only focused on what was working but they also factored in the risks of the different treatment methods and their relative costs.

Five years, and a lot of reading later, the panel released their conclusions.  Among other things, they found that spinal manipulation (that’s the medical description for a spinal adjustment — which is the type of care delivered primarily by chiropractors) to be a “preferred” form of treatment for acute lower back pain.  Let me repeat that.  The panel found that spinal manipulation was a “preferred” form of treatment for acute lower back pain.  The panel downplayed the use of prescription medications (eg. muscle relaxers and steroids) and bed rest — and they were highly critical of surgery.

As a side note — although the guidelines did not mention chiropractic specifically, they might as well have.  Being that chiropractors perform approximately 95% of the spinal manipulations in the United States, many people (including the media) easily interchanged the two.


[transitional sound effect]

Now I won’t take as long on study number two — but it was equally impressive.  For this one, we turn to our friendly neighbors to the north — Canada.

Their low back pain report was released in 1993 and was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health to aid them in their efforts to contain and reduce health care costs in their province.  (Sounds familiar).  To do this they commissioned health economist Pran Manga, PhD, a professor of health economics at the University of Ottawa.  After an exhaustive review of the scientific literature, Dr. Manga and his team released some pretty bold findings in their comprehensive report entitled:  “The Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Chiropractic Management of Low-Back Pain.”

They found that spinal adjustments given by chiropractors were more effective than other forms of treatment for low back pain.  In fact, they reported that “many medical therapies were of questionable validity or were clearly inadequate.”  They also found chiropractic care was safer than medical management of low back pain, and that “an overwhelming body of evidence indicated that chiropractic management of low back pain was more cost-effective than medical management.”  In their recommendations to the government for health care reform, they stated that not only should “chiropractic services… be fully insured under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan,” but that “a very good case could be made for making chiropractors the gatekeepers for management of low-back pain in the workers’ compensation system in Ontario.”

Wow.  Some pretty strong words of support for chiropractic — and from a health economist, no less.

By the way, if you’re interested, you will find links to both of these historic studies in the show notes at SpinalColumnRadio.com


[transitional sound effect]

So, chiropractors are back doctors.  Right?  Well, Wrong.

Now, I’m not going to discount the fact that what we do as chiropractors can have a profound impact on someone’s back pain…. I mean it obviously does, research shows it — people know it.  But chiropractic’s more foundational than that.  What I mean is that back pain is nothing more than a symptom — an outcropping of a deeper, more underlying issue.

You see, chiropractors really don’t focus on the back at all — but rather the nerves that stem from it.  Sure we care about the back, but Chiropractic’ main focus is the integrity of the nervous system.  It’s the nervous system that controls and influences every aspect of the body.  Its the master control, if you will.  Its so important that its the very first system that is created when life begins in a human being — every other system follows. And the Central Nervous System (composed of the brain and the spinal cord) is the the only system that can boast that it’s entirely encased in bone — must be pretty important.

The spine is made up of 24 moving vertebrae that literally stack on top of one another.  Not only does this segmentation allow us to bend and twist and turn, but it also acts as a protection  and distribution center for the nervous system.  The nerves that branch out of the spine, between each vertebra, go everywhere in the body.  Each and every organ, tissue, and cell of the body is innervated, or fed by, these nerves.  Think of the spine, or your back, as the circuit breaker box to the electrical wiring of your house.

The reason that we chiropractors lay our hands on the spine, and might be misconstrued as back doctors, is because this is how we can  have an influence on the proper functioning of these nerves.

Many everyday activities can cause these vertebrae — these spinal bones — to lose their normal position or motion.  The can literally mechanically seize.  This can result in the delicate tissue of the nerves that exit between these offending segments [voice distortion on]to become pinched or choked — which creates nervous system dysfunction and ultimately ill health [voice distortion off].   For some people this surfaces as low back pain .

Our approach — as chiropractors — is to restore proper alignment and motion of these wayward vertebrae with a carefully, and skillfully administer chiropractic adjustment.

With a return of proper  mechanical action, the problematic  nerve pressure and irritation is reduced or relieved, allowing for proper nervous system communication to resume — and overall health to restore… Which for many people, means that the pestering alarm call of pain that their… back, let’s say, was having is no longer needed.  Because, after all, it was never the problem to begin with, but a sign of an underlying problem.

Ironically, it’s not the chiropractor that relieves a patient’s pain — but rather their own bodies.  You see, as a chiropractor, I merely remove irritation on the nervous system and allow the body to heal itself.  Our bodies are amazing, and can keep us healthy if given the chance.

I encourage you to learn more about chiropractic.  Seek out your local chiropractor.  Ask questions.  And see how chiropractic can help your body function the way it was designed.


[outro theme music]

Well that’s going to wrap up class for today.  Thanks for joining us.

Spinal Column Radio would like to remind you that true health comes from the inside out — not outside in.  As such, the content of this podcast, along with the show notes and related links, are not intended to cure, diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.  But, instead, is meant to inform and inspire you in asking better questions regarding your health.  Since the circumstance surrounding your particular situation are unique, you are encouraged to consult with a Doctor of Chiropractic — or other health care practitioner of your choosing.

Well, before I sign off, I’d like to say thanks to my son Logan for running the sound board and the rest of my family and my staff at the office for rallying behind me to get this podcast up and running.  Thanks guys.  Hey, we’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to leave a comment under the show notes for this episode  or  drop us an email through our Contact page.

Folks we are just scratching the surface on this thing called chiropractic.  There’s so much more to talk about  Speaking of which… next time on Spinal Column Radio, we’ll take a look under the hood at the education of a chiropractor.  Until then, I’m Dr. Thomas Lamar, your podcast chiropractor.


Spinal Column Radio is a production of Spinal Column Communications in conjunction with AnchorChiropractic.net.  Copyright 2010.

Download a PDF version of these Show Notes

4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Great job, Tom. The site and the podcast are both first class, professional media productions. I’m impressed.

My only suggestion would be to make the feedback link a bit more obvious. I had to look for it, since I don’t do Facebook.

Comment by Don Hutchins

Thanks Don for the nice compliment and the constructive feedback. Changing the size of the feedback/comment link is something I’m unable to do without having access to the CSS programing of my blog’s theme here on WordPress.com. I think I’ve found a good work-around however. Starting with Episode #3, the Show Notes will now display a very obvious “Comment Button.” Let me know what you think. Thanks again and keep listening!

Comment by drlamar

Thanks for sharing this information about chiropractic. Great information and the more we share the better. People need to know about this stuff!

Dr. Michael Horowitz
Vancouver Chiropractor

Comment by Vancouver Chiropractic

Dr. Horowitz…. so glad that you found our podcast! Thank you for the encouraging comment. Be sure to check out some of our other episodes and let me know what you think.

Dr. Thomas Lamar

Comment by drlamar

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