Adjustment of Thought

Top chiropractors debunk common myths about chiropractic care.

More than one million New Jerseyans are treated by chiropractors each year. For those undergoing treatment, chiropractic has added to their quality of life by alleviating lower-back and neck pain and by providing a foundation for wellness. However, misconceptions still prevail. On the heels of New Jersey’s recent legislation updating the scope of chiropractic practice, we asked Steven Clarke, D.C., president of the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (, and Greg Stetzel, D.C., president of the Garden State Chiropractic Society (, to answer some of the most common misunderstandings about the specialty.

Myth: Chiropractors are not doctors.
Dr. Clarke: Chiropractors carry the title “Doctor of Chiropractic.” They are recognized as physicians whose examination findings are legally acceptable. Any diagnostic or analytical test that is consistent with chiropractic practice may be ordered by a chiropractic physician. Chiropractors in New Jersey must be licensed and follow all of the mandates outlined by the scope of practice governing chiropractic care. The education required for a chiropractor is extensive, and the academic program is rigorous and includes courses in inorganic and organic chemistry, biology, and physics.

Myth: Once you go to a chiropractor, you have to go forever.
Dr. Stetzel: People see us for a lot of different reasons. They may have an ache, pain, or condition and had heard that chiropractic care can help. Chiropractic is about helping the nerve system by working through the spine. By improving the function of the nerve system, we help the body improve in all of its functions, not just in relief of pain. Our practice members tell us that they see an improvement in their overall well-being since beginning chiropractic care: They experience fewer illnesses and injuries, sleep better, have more energy, are able to think more clearly, and are better able to enjoy their lives. People under chiropractic care who discover the difference an interference-free nerve system makes in their lives often choose to continue to get adjusted, but it is always up to the individual how long he continues chiropractic care.

Myth: Chiropractors just treat lower-back pain.
Dr. Clarke: Chiropractic began in 1895 by treating the spine to improve the function of the nervous system, which in turn affects the other systems of the body. This means that a broader spectrum of conditions beyond lower-back pain — including headache, pain in the extremities, ear infections, infantile colic, and, possibly, high blood pressure, to name a few — have the potential to respond to chiropractic treatment. Chiropractors have a holistic, integrated perspective on whole body health. They are also trained in nutrition and exercise, and can help patients develop a lifestyle that optimizes health and quality of life. Nonsurgical treatment of the soft tissues of the body, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the spine and extremities, also fall under the treatment of chiropractic care, although some chiropractors today still limit their practice to spine-only care.

Myth: Children do not need chiropractic care — they don’t have back pain.
Dr. Stetzel: The purpose of chiropractic is to correct a common form of nerve interference, which allows the nerve system to function as best it can. Although children may not have back pain, their bodies are growing and can benefit from proper nerve function for optimum development.

Myth: Chiropractors deliver only high-velocity thrusts in their treatments.
Dr. Clarke: Chiropractors are trained to perform a wide variety of low-velocity manipulations as well as soft tissue treatments, hot and cold treatments, electrical muscle stimulation, and cold laser treatments. Many also provide nutritional counseling and rehabilitation exercises; still others may perform diagnostic muscle testing and acupuncture. Chiropractic adjustments involve restoring motion to joints that have become stiff or tight. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments are the soft tissues that surround joints, and they, too, need to have proper flexibility and function. Treating these soft tissues of the body is taught in chiropractic school, and many doctors of chiropractic continue their training beyond school to add additional soft tissue techniques to their treatment regimes.

Myth: Chiropractic adjustments are dangerous.
Dr. Stetzel: When performed by a trained, qualified, and licensed chiropractor, chiropractic adjustments can be a positive practice for your health. You can find out more about a chiropractor’s background through the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners (