Answers to Questions about Chiropractic:
I have Had Many Treatments.
When Is It Time to Stop?

Samuel Homola, D.C.

Question

Thank you for your informative book entitled Inside Chiropractic. I am a layperson, working in the field of foreign language translation. Two summers ago, I had a second "attack" of pinched nerve (the first had been 15 years prior) that was extremely painful and lasted many months. Eventually, feeling stressed out by the demands of my employer, I chose to freelance, with my employer becoming a client. For this past year, the arrangement has worked out very nicely and I am more able to manage whatever positive and negative stresses life offers.

I began chiropractic treatment during the 2nd "attack." Reading your book taps into doubts I have been entertaining. My chiropractor, who attended Palmer College, does several things that your book warns against: treats infants, teaches that the "Innate wisdom" will fix the body once the subluxations are undone, and offers payment plans for long courses of treatments. I have had 103 adjustments in the past year and am wondering whether it's time to move on with less. Your book equips me with more confidence in my own commonsense observations.

Answer

Many people have doubts when a chiropractor says they need a series of treatments that must be continued long after symptoms have disappeared, allegedly to maintain spinal alignment and to prevent a recurrence of symptoms. Many patients continue with such treatment, even in the absence of improvement, because they cannot imagine that a licensed doctor would mislead them. I am pleased to learn that my book reinforced the suspicions you had about your treatment, providing you with more confidence in your own judgment.

There is no earthly reason why you should have had 103 adjustments in one year. Treatment should be discontinued when people are free of symptoms or after a couple of weeks if there is no improvement. You should not undergo regular spinal manipulation for no good reason. You should seek such treatment only when needed and only if it is effective in relieving your symptoms.

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Dr. Homola is a second-generation chiropractor who has dedicated himself to defining the proper limits on chiropractic and to educating consumers and professionals about the field. His 1963 book Bonesetting, Chiropractic, and Cultism supported the appropriate use of spinal manipulation but renounced chiropractic dogma. His 1999 book Inside Chiropractic: A Patient's Guide provides an incisive look at chiropractic's history, benefits, and shortcomings. Now retired after 43 years of practice, he lives in Panama City, Florida.

This page was posted on February 22, 2002.