Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Acupuncture vs. Chiropractic - WHO WILL WIN THE BLOODY BATTLE???

Yes, that's a rather dramatic title. I hope you'll take it for what it is - a light-hearted poke at the way some people view the medical profession in the United States.

With a few notable exceptions, almost every chiropractor I have ever met has a huge chip on his shoulder. He feels disrespected by M.D.s. He feels put-upon. He feels like the AMA is trying to put him out of business. Not without reason: just take a look at these articles on the epic battles waged over chiropractic scope of practice in California. Doctors don't want them to be able to give a diagnosis. Physical therapists don't want them to be able to do physical therapy. Acupuncturists don't want them to be able to do acupuncture.

Part of the problem is that chiropractors don't have a separate system of diagnosis in the way that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) does. Doctors have no reason to feel threatened by someone who says their patient has Liver Qi Stagnation or Kidney Yin Deficiency - they have no idea what that is, so they can shrug it off.

But chiropractors, for whatever reason, seem to be squarely in the targets of the medical profession. Maybe it's because they are much more likely to act like what most people think of as "doctors" - they wear white coats, order X-rays and lab reports, bill insurance at a higher rate and much more frequently than acupuncturists. Also, they get to use the title of "doctor".

So, with all that in mind, I wasn't really surprised to see an article like this one surface on the internet. The author, John Amaro, wants chiropractors to be able to use acupuncture in their practice. The article is more than 10 years old now, but take the measure of the language used:

A Warning to All States That Do Not Currently Include Acupuncture into Your Practice Act. Do it now. Time is of the essence. The acupuncture profession is dedicated and is quickly becoming a major thorn in the side of chiropractic nationally. As acupuncture becomes more and more a generally accepted therapy, it is of the utmost importance we incorporate it into our practice rights. Currently, more than 60% of the chiropractic state boards in the United States regulate the practice of acupuncture.

The article begins by throwing out a bunch of statistics about how miserable acupuncturists are at running their practices, how they're all a bunch of part-timers who don't bill insurance and make less than $30k a year. Amaro doesn't make any citations, just says it's from a study that "came across my desk." Then he amps it up even more with this:

As acupuncturists aggressively seek licensure in all states, we are now seeing the brick throwing, mud-slinging tactics of this new profession to discredit those DCs who have added acupuncture to their practice through state board regulated graduate school. Please remember, acupuncturists: DCs who have added acupuncture to their armamentarium do not have to retake anatomy, physiology and the multitude of basic science courses required in the acupuncture college. They have already done that! It is not necessary for us to sit in a college for 2,400 hours for the express purpose of retaking classes we have already been examined in by the national and state boards. Also understand that all acupuncture is not traditional Chinese medicine (TCM); there are numerous styles of acupuncture, just as there are different martial arts forms and chiropractic techniques.

The practice statistics for doctors of chiropractic are much more impressive than the ones we have just examined. I can only sense a severe case of sour grapes emanating from the acupuncturists who currently are doing everything they can politically and legislatively from allowing DCs to include acupuncture into their practice act.

John Amaro is an interesting cat. If you take a look at his biography, he's been studying acupuncture since before it was legal in the U.S. He writes a column for Acupuncture Today. So why would he throw bombs like this? I imagine it's just reflex, the habitual defensiveness that so many chiropractors fall into.

The reality is, there are plenty of patients for everyone. Let's not waste time by scrabbling over who gets to do what. I haven't yet made up my mind about who should be able to practice acupuncture. Is it wrong for chiropractors to be able to do acupuncture after 100 or 300 hours of training? To be honest, I'd love to be able to take a 300-hour course on chiropractic adjustments and then be certified to carry them out. I feel confident that after 300 hours I could perform an adjustment safely. Would I be a master? No. Would I understand chiropractic in the same way that a chiropractor does? No. But I would be able to help patients in a way that I can't do now.

Let's not even mention that ANYONE can prescribe Chinese herbs with absolutely no training whatsoever. That's a topic for another day.


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1 comment:

Dr. Ross Carter said...

As I am dealing with Chiropractic treatment method, I think this natural treatment method can solve all problem with nervous system. In my experience I found it is successful in almost every case.

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