Recently I have been seeing more and more advertisements by Chiropractors teaching sublaxation. What this means is that physical adjustments are needed to correct subluxations or “misalignments” of the spine. As spinal misalignments cause pressure pressing on the spinal nerves, interfering with the flow of nerve impulses to the rest of the body and producing susceptibility to disease. By correcting spinal misalignments (subluxations), correct performance of the nervous system is restored, maintaining our health.
“Annually, about five million people are treated by the estimated twenty-five thousand licensed chiropractic practitioners in America” (Can You Trust Your Doctor? John Ankerberg and John Weldon, p. 203).
This number is probably much higher since this book was written and Chiropractic has been accepted as a means to treat patients by insurance companies.
What I want to do is look at the spiritual background and philosophy of Chiropractic before we understand its usage of relieving pain. This is not an indictment against Chiropractors but a discovery of its origins and usage for us today. My conclusions are at the end of the article.
Chiropractic was developed in the in 1895 by D.D. Palmer a magnetic healer. Both D. D. Palmer and his son were interested in the occult; one or both were interested or involved in radionics, masonry, phrenology, spiritism, and Eastern religious beliefs such as reincarnation (28:36; 30:21, 39-40; 24:29; 153:162-63, 220). (Quotes taken from Can you trust your Doctor?” Ankerberg and Weldon unless otherwise noted)
Palmer had been a psychic healer, a practice that during his day was associated with and/or part of magnetic healing. He was trained under one of the most famous magnetic healers in America at that time, Paul Castor (73:131). Palmer even confessed that chiropractic evolved from magnetic healing and was an outgrowth of it (26:17).
Chiropractic or “Chiropraxy,” for example, has been practiced among the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese, and Hindus (65:1045). Palmer himself confessed that practices like chiropractic were not new and were associated with ancient pagan religion and cults and also in various contemporary occultic societies of his day (26:11-14, 21; 30:5-21) ( p.210 “Can you trust your Doctor?” Ankerberg and Weldon)
Palmer concluded that an innate intelligence ran through the body and was connected to the greater universal intelligence that is in the universe. Each person is supposedly plugged into the universal intelligence through their nervous system.
His view was that spinal adjustments were needed because when the spine is out of alignment the energy flows were blocked. Chiropractic (meaning “done by hand”) so manipulation to the spine is done supposedly restoring “innate's” ability to heal the body and maintain health. Palmer described the Innate .. “is a segment of that intelligence which fills the Universe” (26:491,cf. p.382) it is connected to the world and in the nervous system.
The Palmers call this psychic energy that is used in the occult by a specific term, “Innate.” “Innate was a mysterious, divine life force within all men that flowed from the brain through the nerves to the organs of the body. D. D. Palmer, described “Innate” in the following terms: that which I named `Innate' . . . is a segment of that Intelligence which Its the universe.”(26:491, cf. p. 382)
Innate is said to be part of the “All Wise, Almighty, Universal Intelligence, ie Great Spirit, the Greek's Theos, the Christian's God, the Hebrew's [elohim [sic], the Mahometan's Allah, [homeopathy founder] Hahnemann's Vital Force, new thot's [sic] Divine Spark. . . :' (26:493, cf p. 864)Daniel David Palmer discovered the relationship between subluxations and dysfunction when he restored the hearing of an employee by adjustment of the upper cervical spine. The employee had been-deaf for seventeen years. D. D. Palmer remained in relative obscurity during his lifetime, but his son, Bartlett Joshua Palmer began to direct the course of the chiropractic profession during the crucial early years of its growth and development. B. J. Palmer, was a high powered 'preacher' of chiropractic religion. He said, “The power that made the body - can heal the body.”
He was right about that to a certain extent. But he called this power, 'innate intelligence' instead of the only true God as a person. This “innate intelligence” is said to be connected to the “universal intelligence” [God] through our nervous system. The Bible teaches that God dwells in us by His Holy Spirit only after conversion by believing the gospel (Romans 8:9). The Biblical world-view of God is that He is transcendent, not part of or the creation - that He is a personality not a force found in all things (panentheism).
Nontraditional therapies have become more accepted over the alternative of drugs (which is only good in radical situations.) Many still accept Palmer's innate theories, some are Christians who are in the profession of Chiropractic. This can lead one into other worldviews and further involvement of other occult methods for treatment if not understood. The concept of the Innate is similar to other various practices of Occultic energies form other religions.
There is a need for caution as Chiropractic practices can be integrated with many other new age therapies, unwittingly promoting new age medicine in general. It may further lead to Occultic practices or beliefs using other new age health treatments employed by chiropractors. Many who were Chiropractors became further involved in New Age therapies. For example Bernard Jensen founder of Iridology. George Goodheart inventor of applied Kenesiology. John Thie the inventor of Touch for Health. Having said this I know a number of Christian Chiropractors that are aware of the new age and stay far a way from it and are respectable in their profession.
From the outset of this article I need to say that out of all the new age practices that are used today this is one of the few that can be practiced apart from its Occultic energy philosophy. This can only be done when physically adjusting your spine excluding the occult view that is attached to it. Many modern Chiropractors have removed themselves from the spiritual concepts that Palmer incorporated in his spinal adjustments for health. I know of many people who have been physically helped and relieved of pain by Chiropractors. Since physically pinched nerves or spinal misalignment can lead to pain and a bent frame and a lesser quality of living. The spiritual philosophy can be disregarded and Chiropractic treatment can be applied simply for physical adjustments on the spine. However with this said, we need to be aware of how our doctor is treating us.
It is important for one to know what their Chiropractor believes and practices. This can be seen by Christian chiropractor I. Mark Brett, vice president of the CCA, noted: The first letter written by the new president of CCA to its membership includes the statement, “Let innate speak forth from your hearts and minds.” (Letter dated 8/25/88.) There is chiropractic literature today that is -promoting books, tapes and programs which are clearly a different world view. (e.g. Inner Winners-”whose main function is to take the innate philosophy to the masses of the world”). (327:8) (From “Can you trust your Doctor?” Ankerberg and Weldon)
Sometimes Christian chiropractors try to find their justification for it in the Bible but instead make it sound more like the chakras of Hinduism. A good example of finding biblical significance to Chiropractic is seen “Sickness can really be a pain in the neck,” is truer than we know. The 7 neck bones picture the 7 spirits of God: They help send messages from the Head to the body. These 7 bones have 32 joints that are very easy to hurt. Most people have about 7 bones out of place in their backs. They don't even know it. They learn to live with feeling crooked” (p.7 Confessions of Chiropractor John Paul Carroccio).
While the physical interpretation may be true the idea that the 7 bones are related to the 7 spirits in the book of Revelation is not.
“As Christians, we need to have a clear definition from a philosophical as well as anatomical standpoint. We must realize that innate intelligence is the measurable life energy, neuro-energy, bio-electrical energy which originates in the hypothalamus of the brain and is transmitted through the nervous system” (Christian Chiropractors Association, Glenn M. Hultgren D.C., August 1988, p. 20).
He goes on to say “Many in chiropractic both past and present have erroneously made the assumption that this innate intelligence is God or even a part of God. Modern New Age chiropractors also use this premise to teach that God is within us and God's power flows from above down-inside out, and this is totally contrary to biblical teaching” (Ibid, p. 21).
A point well taken and needed to be remembered.
The fundamental chiropractic theory of subluxations causing disease is not proven: subluxations have never been proven to exist or to function in the manner claimed. Again straightening out the spine does have benefits for blood flow to the organs but there are other factors found to cause disease.“Though some physical manipulation, general massage for tension headaches and rational, conservative spinal manipulation therapy for some neuromusculoskeletal disorders is medically justifiable and may be safe and beneficial, the fundamental chiropractic theory of subluxations [spinal misalignments] causing disease is false” (Can You Trust Your Doctor, Ankerberg & Weldon, p. 202).
Then as in any profession there is a problem of the diagnosis. “Consider an illustration of the problem faced in chiropractic diagnosis: one committee against health fraud sent a healthy four-year-old girl to five different chiropractors for a physical checkup. One claimed the child's shoulder blades were “out of place” and that she had “pinched nerves to her stomach and gallbladder.” Another said that the child's pelvis was “twisted.” third said that one hip was “elevated” above the other and that spinal misalignments might cause her headaches, digestive problems, nervousness, and other disorders in the future. Another predicted that if her “shorter left leg” were not treated she would have a problem in childbirth. The fifth found hip and neck problems and adjusted them without bothering to ask permission (3:219). (p.234 Can You Trust Your Doctor, Ankerberg & Weldon)
There should be more common diagnosis if this is to be accepted as scientific. This is not to say that some of the diagnosis was not accurate but there certainly can't be this wide of a conclusion if one is to be treated correctly.
There is also the problem of dependency as repeat business is generated by a patients dependence on this treatment to relieve their pain. Unfortunately many get hooked on Chiropractors like they do drugs. Andrew Weil, M.D., observes: “Chiropractors are quite successful in making patients dependent on them. I have never heard of a patient being told he or she has a normal spine on a first visit to one of these practitioners. There are always subluxations. Must patients are told they must come in for regular manipulation to make the adjustment “hold.” The tendency of chiropractors [is] to seduce patients into long and costly therapy . . . . (17:132-133) (p.235 “Can you trust your Doctor?” Ankerberg and Weldon)
I happen to know a number of people who were adjusted by Chiropractors and had received permanent damage. One person was adjusted with a frozen back and was disabled for sometime from a lack of receiving a message and heat to soften the muscles frozen before their adjustment. On the other hand I know of many more who were tremendously helped by spinal adjustments.
“The problem in chiropractic is not with reformed-minded chiropractors who are attempting to use manipulation in a medically justified manner. These Chiropractors are to be commended” (Ibid, p. 206).
D.D.Palmer wrongly concluded of a latent force that resides in man that when wakened and manipulated can heal. The further Chiropractors get away from his concept the better. Again we should be careful not to call ALL chiropractic care occult or quackery. Many Chiropractors do provide temporary and even permanent relief from pain, as structural misalignments are corrected and nerves are relieved. Chiropractors are a help, but not a cure all, they are better than depending on prescribed drugs for relieving certain types of pain, unless there is permanent damage. The point most often missed is that if one wants to get their spine aligned and stay aligned so they do not continue to go back for treatments, they need to build up their stomach muscles or it will only be a band-aid on the problem.