Who needs a Paradigm Shift?

Paradigm shift is an often heard phrase in chiropractic motivational circles – and as a profession we have been waiting for the community to have the necessary paradigm shift to comprehend and gravitate towards our vitalistic healing services. But what if it is us that need the paradigm shift?

We beat up on the medical profession and quote the growing body of evidence of harm produced by pharmacy and surgery. We beat up on the common man as though he is too simple to understand that a spinal adjustment can release his inborn healing potential. But even if these two scenarios are true – can we change them? Can you make someone else have a paradigm shift? Will a research paper convert the medical profession to refer each and every inpatient to our rooms instead? Will a better spinal health care class transform the average Jo into a compliant, new patient referring machine? If we could just get our educational brochure to say what we really want it to say, then the world will finally notice us? Maybe a glossy TV advertising campaign will convert the masses…

If chiropractic is the answer that many of us think it is – and I’m not talking about curing cancer, turning HIV+ to HIV-, blind seeing, lame walking and deaf hearing: I’m talking about the ability of chiropractic adjustments to improve quality of life – regardless of the ailment. Haven’t we been around long enough for others to notice this is happening? Maybe not enough have seen what we see because:

1) It isn’t happening – maybe the clinical benefits from adjustments aren’t as big as we would hope?? Maybe only a small percentage of adjustments release innate intelligence – If so, is this a failing of chiropractic or of chiropractors? I am a huge fan of objective functional assessments and progress exams, but in my long involvement with professional development I have noticed that few in our profession truly share this obsession. Most want a tool that converts sceptics to long term practice members – few want to have their therapeutic effectiveness or lack thereof exposed and measured. I have to be honest that I have needed to make some significant shifts in the way I do things to find ways to more consistently and significantly improve function – and I am still looking for better ways.

2) It is happening but we don’t have the evidence to show anyone else. I am bamboozled by members of our profession that desire to limit our scope of practice to musculoskeletal pain on the basis that there isn’t any evidence to support any wider claims. I wonder how you can adjust large numbers of people and not see internal physiological improvements of some sort – surely at least one asthmatic, bed-wetter, parkinsonian, multiple sclerotic, migrainous, immune deficient would have returned to their office and thanked them for the help? Maybe not? But I think that this alludes to a wider challenge – how do we SEE the changes that our adjustments deliver? Can an Xray do it, CAT scan, MRI, blood test? My fantasy is that we will develop the skill and acumen to decipher which body function tests best measure the most important changes that occur in someone who receives regular chiropractic care. I’m a bit disappointed with our scientific and academic community that this hasn’t already been achieved: I don’t think the oswestry questionnaire is the answer…

3) It is happening, and we have the evidence, but we can’t get the message out. There’s a neuroscience to marketing – and I don’t think we use it – in fact to a degree we are forbidden to use it. I’ve never been fully able to find the words or images that convey the message that I want my surrounding community to perceive and comprehend. I’m still looking for the perfect imagery that encompasses a subluxation – and it is definitely not the one with two vertebrae pinching against each other and shrivelling the spinal nerve. And I scratch my head as to how McDonalds, Coca-Cola and other life threatening products succeed where I fail. But I do know that if you tell the wrong story then you will be misunderstood – I don’t think that anyone will expect improved quality and quantity of life from visiting a profession that promotes themselves as the spinal care experts.

Paradigm shifts birth from A-Ha moments: Someone looks at why and how they do things and all of a sudden sees a problem, but more than that, they envision a different way of thinking, being and doing: The thought that a circle could be turned into transport, electricity into light, sound transmitted along wires or through the air etc etc. So what is the paradigm shift awaiting chiropractic?

We have this concept that spinal dysfunction leads to nerve dysfunction. And regardless of our technique, practice management style, straight or narrow, type o or type m etc – the language of chiropractic tends to centre back to this one concept. And we claim that this is a vitalistic concept – it’s not – it is a mechanistic concept!

IF we are vitalistic then we need to practice with model, theory and technique that are also vitalistic. Let me illustrate what I believe was a paradigm shift in my own chiropractic world. We say that a Subluxation is a mechanical lesion which can interfere with the transmission of something in the nervous system (Let’s not argue today about whether that something is intelligence, mental impulse, action potentials, neuropeptides, type c fibres, proprioceptors – Whatever). What if the mechanical lesion is not the cause – what if it is merely a symptom of what’s really going on? It’s not a huge paradigm shift in terms of language but what if a Subluxation is a neurological lesion first and foremost? What we see and intervene against is a manifestation of this disturbed neurological state. Hence our intervention does not necessarily have to be mechanical as is required by the former model – but it does need to be “neurological”.

How else can we describe the variation in adjustment vectors, forces and contact points all having similar therapeutic outcomes: Without regressing to the placebo copout that is. Many have tried to win the argument of which technique is best on biomechanical grounds, but maybe that misses the active ingredient? How often have we seen in the nutritional product world where they try to extract the active ingredient only to find that they have lost something magic in the process?

Stop for a moment and allow your mind to stretch around the idea that the Subluxation is a neurological pattern – an altered state of frequency that may manifest with tightening muscles, reducing range of motion, and amended flow of neuropetides – but the underlying state is at least electrical and perhaps more accurately energetic. When you read this, do you have this internal mental tension attempting to bring it back to the fact there must be a mechanical explanation – if you do then you are not ready for the paradigm shift quite yet.

I’ve been teaching vitalistic, neurological, tonal chiropractic for roughly eight years now and I have observed the furrowing of the chiropractic brow when I present the idea that we can forget the mechanical component of the Subluxation altogether and still be a Chiropractor: DD Palmer predicted that we would find better ways of doing things. But I often have Chiropractors approach me during the refreshment breaks asking “you’re not really serious are you”?

Let me put it another way – we have a public image problem, and a professional image problem. The public has trouble comprehending how a “bone out of place” can produce anything but a sore back bone. And the other health care professions doubt that spinal dysfunction can cause anything but mechanical back pain. And we have to go through this long-winded process of trying to explain spinal anatomy to connect the dots between a vertebra and the immune system, or an organ or even the brain.

What if you just skip the vertebra part of the explanation? If you talk in terms of nervous system only you will observe some different A-Ha experiences occurring in your practice members. As soon as you mention a bone or a muscle their minds will get stuck there and they won’t hear anything else you say. If you hear this statement– “so it’s just a muscle” or “so something is out” – then the chance of new communication has ended.

Here is a challenge for the next two weeks in practice: Do not mention a single bone or muscle. Make all of your conversations about nerves. It’s not easy for most chiropractors and the temptation to take the easy path will be strong. Don’t talk about pinched nerves – that’s a mechanistic concept. Use words like tone, tune, tension, frequency, vibration, electricity, energy, balance, harmony, spinal cord, spinal nerves.

Use illustrations like guitars and pianos being tuned, electricity flowing through the body, fuse-boxes with blown fuses, switchboards with switches in the off position, radios or televisions tuned to the wrong frequency/channel or with volume switches turned up or down too far. Talk about the nervous system and how it controls and regulates every cell in everybody – but avoid the need to then talk about spinal bones – instead talk about the flow of information around the body and how there can be blockages – and how your specialty is to locate and reduce those blockages.

Here’s what you may discover – your practice members stop asking you about whether this will help their sore neck or back, instead they will ask about the internal functions that need help. You see – they innately know that the nervous system controls and regulates every cell in every body. And they innately know that the spinal bones don’t control and regulate every cell in every body. Heresy you say? Paradigm shift I say…

Now give yourself permission to attend a Torque Release Technique Seminar to complete the shift to a vitalistic and neurological adjusting system – one that DD himself aspired to. Check the details of the next TRT Seminar at this link: www.torquerelease.com.au/Torque-Release-Discount.htm

Yours for better health and better chiropractic
Dr Nick Hodgson, 2005 Victorian Chiropractor of the Year

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2 Responses to “Who needs a Paradigm Shift?”

  1. Jonathan Moore Says:

    Love it Nick - keep pushing the boundaries mate.
    Well done

  2. Justin Peatling Says:

    well said Nick - we all as a profession need to ask critical questions of what we do and how can we help those within our communities get the most from the miracles we call adjustments.
    Lets keep speaking it out. NBC (Neurologically based chiropractic)

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