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  • Dr. Richard McIlmoyle BSc, DC, PgCPain

What's the problem within the Chiropractic profession?

IS there a problem within the chiropractic profession today?

Perhaps there's a problem, but it isn't merely within the Chiropractic profession, it's that we have professional titles at all, which create a culture of identities???

Maybe we should just do away with all the different professions within manual therapy? No more physiotherapists, doctors of physical therapy, massage therapists, osteopaths, or chiropractors? What would it look like if we all identified under one banner, with subspecialities related to the way we choose to interact with people????

HAHAHAHAHA... I know... When hell freezes over, right? I understand that's not likely to happen; at least in my lifetime…

However, I digress to my original topic...


In actual fact, the perception of what a chiropractor IS varies wildly within the profession and creates significant internal conflict.


In practical terms, many chiropractors view their role and provide patient care just like physiotherapists do. (both philosophically and physically)

They help with exercise rehab, movement coaching, plus some passive interventions (manipulation/mobilization, dry needling, cupping, K-tape, IASTM, US, etc..)

They read the same research to inform their clinical decision making, go to some of the same continuing education courses, use the same tools etc.

In fact, there may be no distinct difference between PT and DC care, from the patient’s perspective.

Now on the other end of the spectrum…

Many chiropractors entered the profession with the goal to be master adjusters of the spine, in order to be the best subluxation detector and corrector they could possibly be, in order to help the world be healthier and express their INNATE without interference.


This leads to members of the same regulatory board, who all identify as chiropractors looking at the other and accusing them of either, being “quacks” who don’t follow the science, or “sellouts” that have lost their way and are no longer “real chiropractors”. Regardless of which end of the spectrum the Chiro is from, they view the other as a charlatan and have a hard time stomaching that they are viewed as the same from the outside world.


There are a lot of chiropractors in the middle who sway one way or another, or move in and out of both philosophies when it comes to different topics. They just do what they do and are ok with what’s going on at the ends because they earn a decent living, and for the most part are helping patients live better lives.

The profession has been trying to resolve the internal conflict for decades to no avail, and it makes sense that there has been no resolution. Individuals at both ends of the spectrum express features that will be nearly impossible to dismantle

  1. They stand proudly with the title of chiropractor .

  2. They have internalized that title into their sense of self.

  3. They feel it would be a travesty to give up that title to the other group

The two groups' ideas of what it means to "Be a Chiropractor" are what are at odds AND neither side will be able to convince the other to change.

So... what do we do?

1. Get rid of the title all together???

2. Spilt the profession into 2 types of Chiropractors???

3. Meld all manual therapy practitioners together?? (DC, DPT, DO, RMT)

I do believe that the individuals throughout the spectrum of chiropractic ideologies who hold so very tightly to their identity as a “Chiropractor” will be the ones to create the insurmountable hurdle. The changing of a sense of self is wildly challenging and neither side will be willing to let go of the title to the abhorrent other. Some others in the profession have had discussions on how to attempt to resolve the divide, most recently Charlotte Leboeuf-Yde et al (1) proposed a divorce, but the details are still up in the air. I concur with their assessment that we are at a point where we can no longer co-exist as chiropractors and move forward as a profession.


What do you think??? Can we move forward as a profession like this? Can we give up that title to one "faction" while the other begins to use a new title? What goes on at the regulatory college level? I ponder all of these questions and realize there is no answer that will be satisfying to everyone...


The more I ponder this and look around social media chiropractic pages, the more often I come to this thought... There is a storm brewing and a battle is coming.



1. Leboeuf-Yde, C., Innes, S. I., Young, K. J., Kawchuk, G. N., & Hartvigsen, J. (2019). Chiropractic, one big unhappy family: better together or apart? Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 27(1), 4. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12998-018-0221-z

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