3 Guesses (first 2 don’t count) Why MDs Still Refuse to Refer to Chiropractors

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Yet another person, suffering from a grueling marathon of ripping
low back pain, sat with me in my office. First visit.

He jumped through all the medical hoops recommended by
his doctors. Did everything he was told to do.

For three long years.

Pain killers, anti-inflammatories, steroids, MRIs, rest,
exercise, physical therapy, injections.

Nothing helped. Not for long.

The final, medical last-ditch effort: surgery.

Spinal fusion of five low-back vertebrae. Two five-inch
rods of metal on each side of his spinal bones.

Radical, risky, irreversible. 

End of story. The medical story.

However, not the end of the pain.

The vice-gripping back pain didn’t stop. In fact, it got worse. Constant.
Pain that messed with his life. No hope of getting better–ever.

The final recommendation: take pain killers and “just live with the pain.”
He was only 35 years old.

Sound familiar?

A bleak place to live.

The doctors said they did everything they could do.

The Missing Link 

But wait! Let’s look at the big picture. Did the medical doctors really do
everything they could do?

Something was missing.


The medical doctors put this man through years of trying one treatment
after another, but never once recommended chiropractic.

At the very least, they could have referred him
to a chiropractor BEFORE
jumping into invasive
surgery that, once done, can never be undone. 

Can Chiropractic Help a Fused Lower Back?

Desperate for help, he found his way to me, a chiropractor—
his very last resort AFTER the medical doctors’ last resort.

His friend referred him, not his medical doctor. In fact, he
probably didn’t tell his MD about his own choice to see a
chiropractor—for fear of ruffling feathers.

Wouldn’t want to ruffle puffed-up feathers.

Within a week of starting chiropractic care, we both
we were on the right track. Big Phew.

Within a couple months, he was back to work, the gym,
and his normal life, with little to no back pain.

We both couldn’t help but wonder:

“Why didn’t at least one of his MDs refer him to a chiropractor?”


The Elephant in the Room

Early on in practice, I didn’t give much thought to the reasons
behind medical doctors’ ubiquitous thumbs down to chiropractors.

People, in pain, still found their way to my practice—even without
their doctor’s referral or approval.

I, like most, chose not to ruffle any feathers.

But now, forty years later, I can no longer ignore the elephant
in the room.

Too many people suffer needlessly, often endlessly,
because their medical doctor, gatekeeper to healthcare,
to refer to chiropractors. EVEN after all medical
procedures fail.

Seems like common sense, the right thing to do. Encourage
patients to explore all options, including chiropractic, especially
when someone continues to suffer, and definitely before undergoing
invasive procedures that can never be undone.


Despite David and Goliath Odds, Chiropractic Thrives.

What’s the deal? This is the 21st century, 2023. The healthcare profession
of chiropractic has been around for almost 128 years.

If chiropractors weren’t effectively getting rid
of people’s pain,
improving their lives,
the all-mighty AMA and Big Pharma with
unlimited resources and long-reaching, powerful arms

would have crushed chiropractic decades ago.

However, chiropractic thrives, in spite of the odds.

Research supports the value of chiropractic, especially for
muscular-skeletal pain and symptoms: low back pain, middle to
upper back pain, neck pain, leg, hip, and shoulder pain, as well as
headaches and migraines.

Chiropractic patients experience and share with others the
pain-to-no-pain chiropractic phenomenon.

Chiropractors, just like me, witness daily the amazing results
from chiropractic adjustments.

Yet, most medical doctors continue to pooh pooh chiropractic care
for their patients.


How, in this day and age, can medical doctors ignore the benefits
of chiropractic care for their patients.

Let’s toss around this hot potato, albeit through the perspective
of a well-seasoned, not-so-objective chiropractor.


Why Do MDs Still Refuse to Refer Their Patients
to Chiropractors for Back Pain?

Three guesses (and the first two don’t count): 
  1. Time
  2. Ignorance
  3. Prejudice


Medical doctors stay crazy busy in their practices, so busy
they’re often forced to close their doors to new patients.

Consumed by treating patients, building knowledge, honing
skills, and squeaking out time for their families, MDs have
no time to fully explore and grasp another healthcare profession,
completely different from theirs.

Like chiropractic.

Understandably, if MDs don’t get what chiropractors do,
they can’t, in good conscience, refer patients for chiropractic care.

2. Ignorance.

Unarguably, medical doctors are among the brightest people
on the planet. It takes intelligence, discipline, motivation, and
do-it-or-die determination to slug through twelve years, or more,
of rigorous, even brutal, education and training.

However, for all their smarts and knowledge about the human
body, symptoms, diseases, diagnoses, drugs, and treatments,
most medical doctors remain ignorant about chiropractic.

(**NOTE: Ignorance means lack of knowledge, not stupid.)

Most likely, they’ve never investigated chiropractic.

  • Never stepped into a chiropractor’s office.
  • Never experienced an excellent chiropractic adjustment.
  • Never felt the pain-to-no-pain chiropractic phenomenon.
  • Never studied supportive chiropractic research.
  • Never asked their patients about their experiences with
    their chiropractors.
  • Never had a conversation about chiropractic
    with a chiropractor.

Ignorance leads to assumptions. Assumptions, based on a few
negative reports, hearsay, guesses, and conditioning, lead to
the accumulation of myths and misinformation about a profession
they know little to nothing about.

In a nutshell, most MDs are clueless about chiropractic
its benefits, especially for back pain, neck pain,
and head pain.

3. Prejudice

Okay. Catch. Here comes the hot potato.

As a culture, we collectively know that medical doctors are
prejudiced against chiropractors. You’d have to live in a vacuum
to have not experienced or heard about anti-chiropractic biases
and scoffers, permeating throughout the medical professions,
our culture, and our minds.

Like some cancers, prejudice multiplies,
spreads, and,
impossible to stop, ruthlessly
invades the collective
consciousness of an
entire culture.

Deeply-rooted prejudice is passed down from generation to generation,
from groups of people to individuals, from medical schools
to medical students.

In one of my blog posts, I share my undergraduate health
professor’s biased, derogatory declaration about all chiropractors,
and the young heads bobbing in agreement, whether those heads
understood chiropractic or not–including mine.

According one dictionary, prejudice is a preconceived opinion
not based on reason or actual experience.

I believe that most medical doctors have preconceived
opinions about chiropractors not based on reason or actual
personal experience.

Bottom line: IF medical doctors could consciously
cut off the head
of this powerful, pervasive,
century-old beast, called PREJUDICE, they
be more motivated to carve out the time to explore and

understand chiropractic.

For the sake of their patients.

After making the conscious effort to build knowledge and shed
built-in biases, MDs could seek a chiropractor or chiropractors
whom they trust with their patients, and to whom they could
confidently refer, similar to building trust for and referring
to their medical colleagues.

My Dream, My Prayer

My dream, my prayer is that one day medical doctors and
Doctor of Chiropractic will leap across the great chasm that has
historically, nonsensically divided us.

Not in my lifetime. Not in the lifetimes of my daughter and son-in-law,
both chiropractors.

But, perhaps, one day my two-year-old granddaughter will be blessed
by one medical doctor-chiropractor team, working harmoniously together
for her comfort, health, and well-being as well as all of their mutual patients.