Objective: The purpose of this commentary is to discuss the philosophical and hypothetical underpinnings of chiropractic and consider whether there is a need for chiropractic to have a questioning philosophy and theory-driven process to guide future scientific endeavors in the profession.
Discussion: The earliest beliefs of the chiropractic founders centered on chiropractic vertebral subluxation but differed on whether this was a static, bone-out-of-place misalignment or a lesion whereby joints had lost their normal direction or range of motion. More recently, new hypotheses such as dyskinesia, inflammation, and neuroplasticity attempt to explain the purported clinical effects of chiropractic. Yet practitioners and students advocate for both traditional viewpoints that typically tout misalignment and embrace a science of chiropractic. I propose that chiropractors should not have to choose between philosophy and science. Instead, they should advocate for adoption of a modern questioning philosophy that not only informs their clinical questions and drives their theories, but also that is in turn influenced by outcomes from their research. Such a questioning philosophy is in stark contrast with the dogma that some have mislabeled as “philosophy” in the profession. I recommend that a review of chiropractic hypotheses and a theory-driven research process is needed to help guide the profession’s research agenda given its wide range of clinical activities and limited resources. As the chiropractic profession increasingly embraces evidence-informed practice, enhanced integration within the wider health care community may then result in further gains in utilization.
Conclusion: Theory-driven research that results from and subsequently informs a questioning philosophy may expose truths related to practice behaviors, activities, and outcomes, and spur more complete integration of chiropractic within the wider health care community.
Author keywords: Chiropractic | Philosophy | Research | Manipulation, Spinal
Author affiliations: Leach Chiropractic Clinic, Starkville, Mississippi, United States
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