What should we make of a discipline whose disciples are unsure of what the discipline is?
Yes, I am talking of chiropractic!
Surely, the inventor of chiropractic has told them what it is. True, DD Palmer left them no end of definitions; here are just 4 to choose from:
- Chiropractic is the science of healing without drugs.
- Chiropractic is the art of adjusting by hand all subluxations of the three hundred articulations of the human skeletal frame, more especially the 52 articulations of the spinal column, for the purpose of freeing impinged nerves, as they emanate thru the intervertebral foramina, causing abnormal function, in excess or not, named disease.
- Chiropractic is a name I originated to designate the science and art of adjusting vertebrae.
- Chiropractic is a philosophical science; it has solved one of the most profound and perplexing problems of the age, namely, what is life?
Despite this plethora of definitions, chiropractors are still struggling to define their trade. This article, entitled ‘So What Is Chiropractic?’, marks the end of a recent series of papers published in a chiro-journal trying to make progress in this regard. They revealed deeply rooted disagreements within the chiropractic profession about what chiropractic is, and what it should be, as a profession [13, 19, 20], as well as disagreements and variation in relation to education of chiropractors [14, 15] and chiropractic clinical practice .
In the opinion of the authors’ paper, it is ironic that, while chiropractic has a strong presence in large parts of the world , is taking on increasingly important roles in disability prevention [6, 7, 17], in the military  and in interprofessional care  as well as growing research capacity , discussions about fundamental values and direction of the profession are unresolved. They believe that this unresolved issue creates confusion for stakeholders and threatens to impede professionalization and cultural authority. If chiropractors are to remain relevant in today’s evidence-based healthcare environment, they argue, there is an urgent need to agree on, and further describe, what chiropractic is, what chiropractors do and importantly to provide evidence for value of these activities to patients and societies.
So, what do we make of chiropractic in view of the fact that chiropractors seem to be unsure what it is?
I let you decide.