I have been contemplating all day… scratch that, my entire career now, (which is coming into it’s 14th year as a chiropractor) how to gently break the news to those patients who come to me who have been misled into believing that the “corrective” care plan they were under with certain chiropractors of 4, 6, 8, 12, or even 18 months at 3x/ week which was said to be “needed” or “necessary”, was actually completely and utterly bogus.
I am sad to say that the empathetic physician in me has failed at finding a way to gently confer that message. I have struggled with that through my career, as the reality is no one wants to hear that they have been duped. It sucks. It’s painful. And perhaps what’s worse is that it’s not even illegal, just deeply questionable. Caveat emptor is Latin for “Buyer Beware.” It is utterly reprehensible in my opinion that caveat emptor should even play into healthcare at all. But it very sadly does. While over-treatment and unnecessary expensive treatments are certainly not isolated to chiropractic, since I am a chiropractor I will keep my focus in this discussion on my field.
Even if a chiropractor promoting these care plans is a “good” person and really believes in what they are doing, they are duping themselves and their patients. That self-duping could be a failure of their education or it could be a failure of their morals. The fact is though that there is not a shred of good evidence that those types of care plans make good sense, other than financially for the people providing them.
I can tell you as a clinician and as a chiropractic patient myself, with a multitude of injuries from my Marine Corps service and a very active athletic life, I have to advise you very frankly, extensive “corrective care” plans are utter BS. Run away. I have had every style of care there is. The simple truth is, that if you are not being empowered to take control of your own health, encouraged to change your lifestyle and habits, and given a multifaceted approach to healing and rehabilitation from injury… something is missing.
Don’t get me wrong. Chiropractic care is extremely effective for many musculoskeletal conditions. We have a strong and continually growing body of evidence that we positively affect and resolve many musculoskeletal issues that plague society. We also have a ton of anecdotal evidence that chiropractic care may be useful for certain other conditions with certain patients. I absolutely love my work. I love seeing my patients walk out of my office every day feeling better, with less pain and being more functional than when they came in. It drives me and it is huge part of my passion for my career.
However, it is equally as gut wrenching for me to have someone come in with a rotator cuff disorder who has been under a “corrective care” plan for six months for cervical “subluxations,” which was completely ineffectual and yet still they have to wrestle with a pointless $3000 bill for that “care.” The quagmire of the multitudes who have shown up in my clinic over the years, suffering with ongoing pain, jaded by misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, and having the visible shadows of the dollar signs from other chiropractors burned into their eyes, and so subsequently their perception of me… That is always painfully sobering, no matter how many people I help.
If you have been misled to believe these types of long-term care plans make sense, talk with me. Send me an email. Call. Let me help you understand why they don’t.
I have no agenda, other than educating you. Throughout my career I have always been a clinician and an educator. It is what I do and who I am. If you want to see me as a patient, that’s fine. If you don’t, that’s fine too. I am happy to assert that the majority in my profession are chiropractic physicians, looking out for the best interests of their patients and I am more than happy to send you to them.
There are still though a very small minority of very vocal, very visible, and very wealthy (wealthy off of your backs, literally) chiropractors who would try to enroll you to be dis-empowered into their long-term care plans and try to convince you only they can keep you healthy. That is completely bogus. Don’t buy it. Chiropractic care can change your life for the better. I know that for a fact and I wholeheartedly know that is true. Just not that way.
Look for short-term, limited treatments plans. Decreasing care over time in any given treatment plan. Multifaceted, concurrent care with other types of treatment if necessary. Referrals out to other providers if you are not getting better. Most of all, look for a healthcare provider who is interested in empowering you to take control of your healthcare. That is the most important part. Healthcare is about you.
In health, Dr. Neely