No, Dr. Hoffman, I Salute You!

[originally published in KCN, January 2011]

Having just celebrated the first anniversary of my internet radio show, Spinal Column Radio, I have a heightened awareness and interest in other health radio programs — especially when another professional makes a positive reference to chiropractic.  So you’ll understand when I tuned my ear to Dr. Ronald Hoffman’s long-standing, nationally-syndicated, medical broadcast, “Health Talk,” as he “saluted his chiropractic colleagues” in a recent live show.

Dr. Hoffman stated that while we chiropractors are on the insurance company cost-containment “chopping block,” we  “…do yeoman’s service when it comes to helping Americans.”  And that we’re “…an important part of the health care delivery system in the U.S. — and much neglected by the government and insurance companies.”

In his program, he presented to his audience the soon to be published research finding that low back pain care initiated with an chiropractor was 40 percent less costly than care initiated through a medical doctor.  This is a big deal when you stop to realize that we spend over 100 billion dollars every year in this country on costs associated with lower back pain.  That’s a lot of coin.

“Clearly,” he said, “[this is] a resounding vindication to the chiropractic approach to back care.”  And that “early initiation of proper chiropractic care could make a huge difference in our health care costs, and people would have less side effects and complications of aggressive medical treatment.” (Listen)

Listen to Dr. Lamar's Podcast on this subject!

These are words that don’t typically come out of an MD’s mouth when it comes to chiropractic.  But as amazing as his comments were, what prompted me to write about him and his kind remarks towards our profession was what happened next when he went to the phones.

His first caller was a perfect illustration of the shackled, health paradigm mindset that our country has fallen victim to.  He was an upper middle-aged gentleman who wanted to know what he could take for his painful, arthritic shoulder because his doctor advised against Ibuprofen due to his ulcerative colitis.

Well, Dr. Hoffman’s answer literally shocked me — because it was not the typical MD answer.

First, he explained how Ibuprofen could actually damage his intestines further. The caller then asked about natural things he could take. Dr. Hoffman then rattled off various herbal and supplemental approaches to create a “natural Ibuprofen.”  But — and this is what floored me — he explained how his arthritis was most likely manifesting because of his colitis.  And that the most comprehensive approach to his arthritic shoulder was to not treat it symptomatically, but to find and work on healing the cause, or the source, of his problem.  Which, in the caller’s case, was most likely coming from his gut.

This caller was stuck in the “health-comes-from-the-outside-in” mentality, instead of realizing that true health emanates from the inside-out.

And while Dr. Hoffman’s answer didn’t mention chiropractic (and it certainly could have in my opinion), it did allude to a point that I am a big fan of:  we need to ask better questions.  Why was this gentleman suffering with arthritis?  Are we going to take our myopic focus off his shoulder and start looking at him as an integrated human-being?  Or are we content with setting him up with an endless, cash cow, conveyor belt of symptomatic relief?

If we are truly going to heal our nation’s health care system, each one of us has to start asking better questions.  Don’t count on a policy issued from Capitol Hill to shift our nation’s health paradigm.  It simply won’t happen.  There is too much political and financial influence at play to make such a radical shift.  No, the change must occur on the individual level.  And when it does so in mass numbers, the groundswell of this newfound view of health will literally transform the health care marketplace.

So, Dr. Hoffman, for your willingness to take a stand and broadcast the truth, this chiropractor salutes you!

____________

Source used for this article:
American Chiropractic Association.  Study:  Starting with chiropractic saves 40% on low back pain care. Press Release, November 16, 2010.
Hoffman. Health Talk. radio program. November 27, 2010, second hour. WOR Radio Network, New York, NY.
Liliedahl, Finch, Axene, and Goertz.  Cost of care for common back pain conditions initiated with chiropractic doctor vs medical doctor/doctor of osteopathy as first physician:  Experience of one Tennessee-based general health insurer. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.  33(9); 640-643. November 2010.  Full Text Link
Information on Dr. Hoffman’s Radio Show:  http://www.drhoffman.com/page.cfm/19
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