Beyond Bad Backs - What Chiropractic is and How it Can Help You
I am delighted to have Dr. Christopher Kent post this article about chiropractic care. Many of you that read my free health e-newsletterare among the 30 million Americans that are treated by chiropractors. However, many others among you remain somewhat skeptical or just unclear of the care chiropractors provide. I believe this article, by one of the most respected chiropractors in the country, will help clarify the important role that they can serve in helping you improve your health.
After reading this article, the practical challenge you may want addressed is how to identify a good chiropractor who can help serve as your health and wellness guide. Dr. Kent will be a among several new columnists regularly appearing in my e-newsletter, and one of his forthcoming articles will expand on this important topic in detail so you can properly utilize this important component of the health care team. So watch for his future articles!
By Dr. Christopher Kent
Many people have a misconception about chiropractic and the critical role it plays in health and well-being. That misconception is that chiropractic care is limited to treating back and neck pain. Although many people have experienced relief from back and neck pain through chiropractic services, the foundation, intent, and vision of chiropractic is far beyond simply helping to reduce symptoms.
Chiropractic is the largest licensed, non-medical health-care profession in North America, with approximately 60,000 practitioners in the United States. Chiropractors are doctors. They earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree after completing three to four years of undergraduate study, and a four-year professional course. After graduation, they must pass further exams to obtain a license to practice.
There are basically 2 styles of chiropractic practice. One type of chiropractor is what we refer to as limited scope practitioner. These chiropractors choose to limit their practice to dealing with back and neck pain only. Such doctors provide specialized care to patients with musculoskeletal injuries and disorders.
The other type of chiropractic doctor is a wellness chiropractor. This wellness chiropractor focuses on your general health and well-being, and that of your family. The objective of the wellness chiropractor is to work with you in maximizing your life potential.
In his book "The Wellness Revolution" , economist Paul Zane Pilzer predicts that wellness will become the next trillion-dollar industry. According to Pilzer, wellness is "not about a fad or trend, it's about a new and infinite need infusing itself into the way we eat, exercise, sleep, work, save, age, and almost every other aspect of our lives."
Pilzer succinctly articulates the difference between sick care and health care: "The sickness business is reactive. Despite its enormous size, people become customers only when they are stricken by and react to a specific condition or complaint...the wellness business is proactive. People voluntarily become customers -- to feel healthier, to reduce the effects of aging, and to avoid becoming customers of the sickness business. Everyone wants to be a customer of this earlier-stage approach to health."
As the culture moves in a direction seeking behaviors that enhance well-being, there will be those who attempt to fit old paradigms with new clothes. For example, some factions in medicine are promoting early detection protocols as "wellness" services.
Such services may include such things as screening for hypertension, cancer, or other medical conditions. While there is a place for early disease detection, it should not be confused with a wellness strategy.
Similarly, some medical and chiropractic practitioners employ fear-driven preventive strategies. People are encouraged to get their spines checked, or control their blood pressure because they fear the consequences of not doing so. As with strategies based upon the early detection of disease, such approaches should not be confused with wellness care.
|Prevention and early detection of disease
||Maximize the expression on innate potential
||Based on "normal" values and epidemiologic data
||Goals set by the individual
What then is wellness? The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines wellness simply: "The quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal." 
Arizona State University has a more comprehensive definition: "Wellness is an active, lifelong process of becoming aware of choices and making decisions toward a more balanced and fulfilling life. Wellness involves choices about our lives and our priorities that determine our lifestyles. The wellness concept at ASU is centered on connections and the idea that the mind, body, spirit and community are all interrelated and interdependent." 
The National Wellness Institute definition is as follows:
"Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.
The key words in this first sentence are process, aware, choices and success.