THE CHIROPRACTIC ALTERNATIVE: A Spine Owner's Guide by Nathaniel Altman


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Chiropractors would be better off without the kind of hype found in this brief, sometimes enlightening, often irritating explanation of their practice. Basically, chiropractic seeks to restore ideal health by realigning the spine to reduce pressure on nerves; but this modus operandi has been added to and embellished by different sub-groups. Altman, a grateful patient, first sets forth the usual ""evidence"" of the benefits of chiropractic: incontrovertible facts (""healthy people are far less susceptible to disease than unhealthy people""); celebrity expertise (do Burt Reynolds or Marvin Belli know more about medical problems than we do?); and twisted logic (a cited ""possible relationship"" between hyperparathyroidism and spinal curvature seems to suggest that if the curvature is corrected, the metabolic disorder will go away). The ballyhoo aside, there is something of interest here: the story of how chiropractic began in this country and of the A.M.A.'s attempts to eliminate it (as unwelcome competition?), plus a look at chiropractors' education. Ignoring Altman's contention that ""many courses required for graduation compare favorably with those taught in medical school,"" it's instructive to learn that the emphasis is more on anatomy than neurosciences, and that little attention is paid to drug therapy, surgery, or epidemiology. Altman also looks at the difference between ""straights,"" who practice only manipulation, and ""mixers,"" who also utilize nutrition counseling, massage, and other techniques for which they may or may not be trained. Altman doesn't evaluate the relative merits of the two approaches nor describe the depth of the conflict between the two groups (not only are there different professional organizations, but the ""mixers"" have been attacked on 60 Minutes and elsewhere by the ""straights""--who may even call them quacks). Ignore both the hype and the advice, then; look at this for the basics on chiropractic, and wait for a more thoroughgoing examination of the practice.

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 1981
Publisher: Tarcher--dist. by Houghton Mifflin