Physicians and Chiropractors – Like Priests and Rabbis

Laura is about 25, a sweet kid with a doting husband, Mike. She was in the office yesterday to follow up on a weekend emergency room visit for vomiting and diarrhea. She wasn’t getting any better. Her liver tests were off the scale, but her pancreas numbers were pretty good. Her hepatitis profile was still pending. I got an urgent ultrasound on her to make sure she didn’t have her family curse – unusual and dramatic presentation of gallstones. This test was normal.

Today she was back for a follow-up visit. She wasn’t getting better. Her hepatitis profile from this weekend came back negative. Her liver tests from yesterday were unimproved from the ER visit. Overnight she had run a fever. She was vomiting more, her diarrhea was worse, and the pain was getting worse. She needed to go back to the hospital for some IV fluids and a CT scan.

Laura was alone in the room today. I asked if Mike was in the waiting room, which would have been unusual. No, her father had brought her, but he was waiting in the car. I must have looked puzzled. She said: “He’s a chiropractor, remember, and he has problems with doctors’ offices…”

I made the arrangements and Laura went back to the hospital with her father at the wheel.

I have had reason to think about physician-chiropractor relationships before; my brother-in-law is a chiropractor. We have never talked shop. I have always been a staunch allopath but have sometimes seen patients who were helped, dramatically, by chiropractic. Recently, Caleb, our horse with an unexplained limp, seemed to be very much improved after acupuncture and chiropractic treatments.

The practice of medicine in America is flavored by the malpractice climate. I have a form letter on my computer, stating that I as a patient’s primary care physician agree to authorize insurance payments to their chiropractor, but I don’t assume any responsibility for the chiropractor’s diagnosis or treatment.

When patients ask me if they should see a chiropractor, I usually answer their question this way:

“You wouldn’t ask your rabbi how often you should go to confession, would you? Chiropractic and allopathic medicine are like two religions. We don’t speak the same language and we use different tools. But even though our practices are different, we ultimately work for the same higher purpose, and it may be that our differences are smaller than we were taught. We don’t know enough about each other’s practices to make specific recommendations, but support you, our patients, in your pursuit of better health and wellbeing.” 

I wished Laura’s father had been more present as she sought allopathic care for a potentially serious, maybe even life threatening condition, and I wish my brother-in-law and I could sit down and talk about what it means to be in two different, yet similar healing professions…

7 Responses to “Physicians and Chiropractors – Like Priests and Rabbis”

  1. 2 jenn November 26, 2009 at 6:54 am

    whether allopathic, naturopathic, or chiropractic, we are physicians whose “highest calling, our only calling is to make sick people healthy–to heal, as it is termed.” (in the words of samuel hahnemann). and while our methods may vary we aim towards the same purpose–worth keeping in mind. thank you for your honesty.

  2. 3 Kim December 11, 2009 at 9:39 am

    He left his private practice in August of 2006 to join us here in the Pacific Northwest, and he hasn’t looked back! Dr Early is an accomplished physician, successfully treating the general public for a wide variety of ailments ranging from headaches and low back pain to digestive disorders and fibromyalgia.

  3. 4 louisville chiropractor December 11, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Yup, you’re right about it. I had fun reading you article about the Physicians and Chiropractors – Like Priests and Rabbis. All the things that you said about your article were true.

  4. 5 WSA May 29, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    I see no reason why MDs and Chiropractors, in fact, any sincere, capable practitioners of any reputable healing modalities might not converse and learn from each other; support each other, in fact, just as a priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist lama might find common ground in their goals and their day to day challenges, and find that only the superficialities of their Paths might differ.

    Of course, I am not an MD. I am an Acupuncturist, an Herbalist and a Homeopath as well as a Wilderness First Responder and a member of the Ski Patrol. I would welcome contact with any deep-thinking, deep-caring, MD (or any other healer from an authentic healing modality) but I have found with very few exceptions that MDs don’t want to talk with me. And I wonder why. I can’t even find an MD in my area to refer patients to when I think they should see an allopath. Sad isn’t it? I practice a modality of medicine practiced for no less than ten thousand years, recognized by WHO (not that I care about that, frankly, but the MDs might) that works very well for what it works well for and I can’t even get a call back from an MD (in my area, I have a couple MDs elsewhere that are friends and resources, but far away.)

    Truly I scratch my head over this. And I wonder if it’s how they, the MDs, see me, or how they seem themselves; or even if it’s maybe how they see the patients that they cannot even be bothered to take the referral of a patient that would see me? It’s a puzzle, that. But even so, I am still open to finding a local MD with whom to develop a relationship either social or professional.

    Meanwhile, I will continue in my mission to support as many people as choose to come to me to the best of my ability and to the deepest and largest totality I can see (hat’s off to Jenn and Samuel Hahnemann.) And I will continue to study as may aspects of the healing journey as possible, from emergency allopathy, to homeopathy, to acupuncture, herbs and spiritual philosophy, so as to better support the people whom are drawn or sent to me. Which is why I read and enjoy this blog. Thanks.

  5. 6 walkaboutdoc February 5, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    I like the analogy. In my town, the FPs go together and bought an MRI. Then because of profit motive, they built a bridge to the chiropractors in hopes of getting the revenue. It worked. The barriers have lowered but not disappeared. I tell my patients that some chiropractors do some people some good sometimes, and, when it comes to acupuncture, I can give them a personal recommendation.

    In residency, one of the most respected of my mentors said, “If you don’t work with the chiropractors, you’ll work against them.”

    I try not to judge them by their failures, and I hope they give me the same respect.

  1. 1 Should I see a chiropracter, doctor? « Nice Lady Doctor Trackback on September 5, 2008 at 9:41 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.



Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Top 25 Doctor Blogs Award

Doctor Blogs

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


contact @
Bookmark and Share
© A Country Doctor Writes, LLC 2008-2022 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

%d bloggers like this: