I met a guy in chiropractic school who had been a Navy Seal for years prior to entering school. As a member of the military special forces, his training had been extremely rigorous – far more than typical military training. Even among the Special Forces branches, Seals standout as being some tough guys who are intensely trained. I have no doubt that his body showed the effects of the rigors it had undergone. When I met him he was probably in his mid to late 30s.
His particular story, what convinced him to go into chiropractic school, was an experience he had toward the end of his military service. As a result of everything he had put his body through, he had developed significant hip pain. The military doctors had scheduled him for surgery. I can only imagine that any surgery to his hip would have likely spelled the end of his military career. In any case, just before the surgery he went to visit a friend of his in Florida. The friend insisted he see his chiropractor. Since he was only there for a week, the chiropractor saw him every day and adjusted his hip for that entire week. By the end of the week, his hip was feeling 90% better. He went home, canceled the surgery and eventually enrolled in chiropractic school.
As a chiropractor, I hear stories like this all the time. Studies that compare one group of patients that are treated with chiropractic and compare them to similar cases that are treated medically with drugs or surgery or physical therapy tend to find that chiropractic care is cheaper and has better outcomes – especially long-term. This holds true for comparisons between workers comp cases or auto accident injuries. All this has relevance in decreasing runaway healthcare costs. You definitely want to go with a less expensive treatment that is more effective. And yet, the greater importance in my mind is the human suffering involved and the loss of potential. It’s one thing to say that a certain type of treatment saved the insurance company or the patient X amount of dollars. It’s another thing to try and measure the difference between a life of chronic pain versus freedom of movement without pain. As I work every day to get people out of pain, in some cases chronic pain that they’ve had for years, I do reflect on the repercussions the pain has on their lives and those around them. Certainly, a person with pain may not be able to do everything they want in their lives, or if they can, not enjoy those activities as much. At the same time, it also affects those people around the person in pain. If mom’s headaches are bothering her, it’s likely to affect her relationship with her children and husband. Grandpa may be so cranky all the time because his neck and low back pain are hurting him and he knows people are tired of hearing about it.
As chiropractic continues to grow as a profession, I look forward to a world in which people are functioning at their best, free of pain, and able to enjoy a vibrant healthy life.