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Not Just Back Talk by Crick and Crack: Medicine and Chiropractic: Part 2

In our last column, I talked about how many people across the country, and indeed across the world, have an unfounded prejudice towards the practice of chiropractic, and how I too fell victim to a conspiracy by organized medicine to denigrate and eliminate, the chiropractic profession.

This resulted in a landmark lawsuit that began in October 1976, initiated by Chester Wilk, a chiropractor, and four colleagues, who filed suit against the American Medical Association, as well as the American Hospital Association, the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Physicians, and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals. The suit claimed that the defendants had participated for years in an illegal conspiracy to destroy chiropractic.

On August 24, 1987, 11 years later, after endless wrangling in the courts, US District Court Judge Susan Getzendanner ruled that the AMA and its officials were guilty, as charged, of attempting to eliminate the chiropractic profession. While the AMA and co-defendants denied many of the charges, they admitted that they had labeled chiropractic as an “unscientific cult,” by claiming that the basis for chiropractic was unscientific and that chiropractic education was insufficient. After the judge’s ruling, the AMA appealed but lost their appeal.

The fact is that manipulation is a well-established healthcare practice/form of treatment. It dates back 4,000-5,000 years. Research shows that cave dwelling wall paintings depict practitioners manipulating their patients. The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, treated many of his patients with manipulation, and in fact, said “look first to the spine for the cause of disease,”

Over the centuries, manipulation interventions have fallen in and out of favor with the medical profession. Historically, manipulation can trace its origins from parallel developments in many parts of the world where it was used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including spinal disorders. It is acknowledged that spinal manipulation is and was widely practiced in many cultures and often in remote world communities in Indonesia, Hawaii, Japan, China and India, and Central Asia, and Mexico, as well as in Russia and Norway. Claudius Galen, a noted Roman surgeon, provided evidence of manipulation including acts of standing or walking on the dysfunctional spinal region; he even commented on the works of Hippocrates with many illustrations of his manipulative techniques.

After the Renaissance, many medical texts included treatises on manipulation. By the 19th century, a significant portion of the established medical profession expressed disdain for the “bonesetters” and their practices and did their best to run them out of business. At the same time, however, they couldn’t help but recognize just how popular these bone setters had become to the general populace.

In 1882, Robert Jones, the founder of British orthopedics, wrote “we should mend our ways rather than abuse the unqualified. Dramatic success in their hands should cause us to inquire as to the reason. It is not wise or dignified to waste time denouncing their mistakes, for we cannot hide the fact that their successes are our failures.” It is around this time that both osteopathy, founded by a medical physician, Andrew Taylor Still, and chiropractic, founded by Daniel David Palmer, were both founded. Dr. Still founded osteopathy due to his disenchantment with the results of traditional medicine, which even at this time included the common practice of bloodletting. Daniel David Palmer, credited with treating patients with manipulative of the spine and codifying chiropractic in 1895, started a chiropractic college shortly thereafter.

Next time: the evolution of medical and chiropractic colleges; the Wilk suit begins.

Yours in Health,

Crick and Crack

Dr. Thomas Turek grew up in New Jersey and attended Rutgers University and New York Chiropractic College. He has practiced in St. Johnsbury for over 35 years, and lives in Waterford with his wife Dorothy. Dr. Travis Howard grew up in Rantoul, Ill. He was a medic in the Air Force for eight years. He attended University of Maryland European Division, Illinois State University, and Logan College of Chiropractic. He lives with his wife and three sons in Littleton, N.H. To submit a question for the column, email