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However, is bounded by chiropractors’ status as limited practi- tioners. Insurers now often pay for chiropractic services—approximately half of the people who use chiropractic services have full or partial coverage—but usually will do so only for treating specific conditions in specific ways . State licensure laws sometimes set similar limits, as does patient demand: Despite many chiropractors’ desire to treat a broader range of problems, most patients visit them solely for treatment of acute back, head, or neck pain. In addition, only 5% of chiropractic patients were referred by a medical doctor, clearly indicating that doctors don’t regard chiropractors as colleagues.

Nevertheless, chiropractors continue to push for a wider role in health care. Many chiropractors believe spinal problems underlie all illness and that spinal ma- nipulation can cure most health problems from asthma to cancer. As a result, they believe they can serve effectively as primary care providers and now advertise heavily that they offer care for the whole family throughout the life course. This has stimulated new conflicts with mainstream medicine, especially because a signif- icant minority of chiropractors oppose medical treatments, drugs, and vaccination . “Contemporary Issues: Vaccine Refusal,” discusses the risks incurred when children are not vaccinated.

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Current research suggests that chiropractic care may provide slight help to those with acute lower back pain but is unlikely to help others. Nor does it seem likely that future research will identify more benefits given that the basic principles of chiropractic simply don’t mesh with scientific understandings of human biology.


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